One of the many faces of our society is the face of the oppressed. It is characterized by poverty, injustice and in some settings, human rights violations. Despite this crude face, there still exists the good. Cliché though it may seem, that truth makes a whole reality present in all cultures worldwide since time immemorial. That essentially, we can trace back to many faith dynamics, life philosophies and economic styles.
Promoting the good of the marginalized has become advocacies resulting in organized groups, i.e., institutions that influence many people not to raise arms but to provoke good and generous actions. For example, the Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center in Sta. Cruz, Manila, is recreating the self-image, reclaiming self-respect, and restoring the self-worth of the hungry, dirty and wounded people in our streets. Also, the Balay Samaritano, a center located in downtown Cebu City, whose sublime commitment is to nurture, a home where the street children and homeless elderly can find care.
I have been to these two centers and visited with their clients. They shared their life stories candidly. For them, the center is a joy. Thus, their thankfulness is beyond dispute. Their tales are captivating. Most of them told their stories with enthusiasm, but it broke my heart that as I listened to them attentively, I ineluctably resonated with their plights. Their voices echoed society’s issues: poverty, lack of education, corruption, crime, unemployment, child abuse, forced labor, drug or substance abuse, etc. My heart bled while I was listening to their voices.
Those people whom I visited are undeniably embodiments of a suffering community. I believe they only represent a small portion of a bigger reality so robust it could drown the presence of the good. I believe this crude reality is a force calling everyone to engage in a kind of politics that Pope Francis introduced in his 2020 encyclical entitled Fratelli Tutti, the “better kind of politics.” Politics for the common good. Politics that is for and with the people. It is politics with social charity seeking human dignity. Politics that practice political love by integrating the economy with the social and cultural structure into a life-giving human project.
I tend to believe that the “better kind of politics” is already manifested in several corporations’ practices through their causes in their corporate social responsibility (CSR). But are their employees individually aware or engage with their CSR? If yes, it is something to be applauded. If not, the company should consider programs that engage their employees in CSR through its Human Resource Office.
Several studies indicate the importance of engaging or making the employees aware of the company’s CSR. A 2020 study by Bouraoui et al. showed that employees’ perception or awareness of their company’s CSR had a positive effect on the level of their affective commitment to their organization. Also, the study of Franco and Suguna in 2017 indicated a highly significant positive relationship between CSR and employee organizational commitment. Chaudhary’s 2017 findings showed that employees’ perception of the company’s CSR positively influences employees’ engagement level at work.
Making aware or engaging the employees with the company’s CSR is beneficial to both the company and the employee. On the one hand, the employee’s desire to be involved in a noble cause is satisfied. On the other hand, the company benefits from having an employee who has a significant commitment to the company. More interestingly is the positive impact of the whole company in its share to address the society’s face of being a place OF oppressed people.
We continue to grapple with society as a place OF oppressed people. This reality is far from being addressed, but I am hopeful that we can do it. The call continues and persists for all individuals and companies to engage themselves in the “better kind of politics.” Everyone is called to contribute to creating a society in which every person is treated with respect and dignity, everybody is loved and cared for equally, and every family has the hope of a strong and stable future.
Meeting poverty and inequality face to face, I am convinced that we are called to solidarity. Quoting from Fratelli Tutti: There are no “others,” no “them,” there is only “us.” No one cares for them until you and I care. Let us be the other face of society–the big-hearted and benevolent ones. Let us engage ourselves in the “better kind of politics.”
Dennis B. Testado is a doctoral student at the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University. He is mainly involved in the corporate governance of several non-stock corporations. He can be reached at [email protected].
The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.