-Between reform and revolution, which do you choose?
-Is this the right question? The poorest have seen so many reforms and revolutions that have brought them nothing. They are both ways of dealing the cards differently to those already playing. Dealing the cards differently is not enough to make room for new players, the rules of the game have to be changed. The Movement is often reproached for not “playing the game.” It doesn’t fit in with recognized partners. This is true it brings a new player to the table. This is equally inconvenient for everyone.
How can we choose sides in the debate between reformists and revolutionaries? Our duty is to ask everyone: Where are the poorest? In this respect, the Movement becomes a nightwatchman. By asking everyone the question about the poorest, the Movement affirms its conviction that all must contribute to the creation of new rules. These are two principles that are not currently fashionable: Believing in the fragility of our systems and ideologies; and accepting the need to examine all our actions from the point of view of the excluded. This is not a new principle for our societies, they have just never made use of it. To say that all our fellow citizens, all the political parties and trade unions, all our institutions and churches must contribute to the quest for the introduction of the poorest into their lives is not new either. But this struggle to gather together around the excluded does not figure among the rules of the game in the modern world. (…)
This is not about prioritising minor changes to detail based on importance, or the effort needed to achieve them. What is frightening is that we can no longer pigeon-hole people according to their problems. The change required is to fully recognise the dignity of the poor, to take their knowledge as a reference point for all our policies, and their hopes as a reference point for all our actions. This kind of revolution in the way of thinking about and looking at people, this way of understanding society as identifying itself entirely with the needs of the poorest, is unsettling for all of us. To face the question, “What have you done to me?” at every moment and every bend in the road destroys any intellectual and material security. We would need to build on securities of a different nature. This is the reversal of priorities the Movement is talking about.