Proximity and distance

“We need to be simultaneously in proximity to extreme poverty and distant from it.  Proximity, because the poorest are our common concern and our raison d’être.  Distance, because they must be able to help us progress constantly in our own lives.  The great opportunity the Movement offers is that its cause is, at one and the same time, individuals who suffer and a people who are on the move, forcing us to move with them.

The fact that they are individuals prevents us from making the people into a reason, an excuse or an alibi for a struggle.  Individuals force us to live at their rhythm and to make their heartbeats, their hopes and their thoughts our own.  The fact that they are also a people forces us to stay as we are — men and women to whom the poor can say, “You can do all you want, but you will never be able to understand because you haven’t experienced what we are going through.”  If they couldn’t say that to us, we wouldn’t be forced to give them the right to speak”.

Joseph Wresinski

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