Danger of new paternalism

PETROPOLIS, Brazil, Nov. 9 (NC)—Unless aid programs for underdeveloped regions are carried out in close cooperation with local people who know the needs of their areas, the result can be ’a new kind of paternalism propelled by pity,” the International Young Christian Workers’ representative to the United Nations said here.

Caroline Pezzulo of Brooklyn, N.Y., told the YCW world congress here that there has been a general awakening in North America to the responsibility of the economically developed lands to help alleviate the miseries of their brothers throughout the world. This has resulted, she said, in “a barrage of programs’ designed to aid the peoples of other lands in various ways.

Miss Pezzulo continued: “There are more and more generous people who would like r to do something l for the so-called underdeveloped lands. We feel at first glance this may seem very fine, but there is a danger that if we do not work closely with the people who know what the real needs are in the newly developing areas, we shall merely cultivate anew kind of paternalism propelled by pity. The resultant reaction on the part of the people in Asia, Africa and Latin America is sure to be resentment.

“That is why we feel the YCW has a special role to play motivated by its unity in the Mystical Body and steeped in the line of the worker movement. We would like to begin a dialogue among the YCWs of the economically developed countries and those of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Through dialogue we can come to know each other better and through dialogue we shall better be able to plan actions which will respond to Pope call for the developed areas to take their responsibilities.”

In a report on conditions affecting young workers in North America, Miss Pezzulo said that one of the most difficult tasks is that of helping young people to “recognize that there are problems.”

Noting that young workers of the U.S. and Canada in general have a comparatively high standard of living, she said: “Even though he may be lonely, bored or dissatisfied with his Job, when the young workers is materially well situated, it is very difficult for him to see and then to admit that something may be wrong.”

“This attitude explains in part,” Miss Pezzulo continued, “why there does not exist a spirit of unity among workers. On the contrary, there is a strong individualism…. The largest grouping of workers in the United States is that of the office worker who, by and large, is not to be found in the trade unions.

Unions are having a difficult time attracting young people to membership and participation in meetings, nor are they training new leadership to any great degree.

Miss Pezzulo cited the following as among the major problems among young North American workers:

  • Automation, which though creating the possibility of a much richer life has created a major unemployment crisis.
  • The “thirst for excitement” which results in the squandering of leisure time, and which is one of the facets of the dating system “one of the largest contributing factors to poorly matched and poorly prepared marriages with all the consequent family problems.
  • “The problem of discriminatlon, especially toward the Negro In the United States, but also toward other minority groups such as migrant workers, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. Miss Pezzulo said that “the YCW must find a way to reach more and more young workers in these modern Industrialized societies and lead them to a full Christian life.”

Canadian YCW groups have performed major service In studies on unemployment and the use of leisure time, she said, and have developed widely emulated courses to help prepare young workers for marriage.

The YCW movement In the United States has made a special drive to determine the situation of migrant workers and has also fought for remedial legislation In Congress, she said.

She also cited the fact that the YCW has organized in large cities a number of apartments for young people living away from home—some for men, some for women—where rent, food and community life is shared in a Christian atmosphere.”


Danger seen of ‘pity’ creating new paternalism (NCWC News Service)