A Statement of Social Concern-General Assembly . UCCP AKO

A Statement of Social Concern-General Assembly

A STATEMENT OF SOCIAL CONCERN
General Assembly
19-24 May 1960

 

INTRODUCTORY THEOLOGICAL STATEMENT

Throughout Asia today, people and their governments are in the midst of political, economic and religious upheaval. The tremors of this upheaval have shaken the old foundations of Asian culture and are making way for the building of new political, economic, and religious structures.  It is imperative that the Church asks herself what her role is in this new day.

The Church cannot hold itself aloof from the world in which it lives. Even as the Lord of the church came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, so He calls His disciples to be His servant-people. (John 13:14-17).  They are called to witness and to serve Christ in the world. (Acts 1:8; Matthews 20:26-28).  It is through its members that the church confronts the world at all points of daily life. (II Cor. 5;17-20). Even as Christ came that men might have life and have it abundantly,  (John 10:10), so Christians are to bear witness to this and have been called from the world into a fellowship of unity and peace with forgiving love by their concern and compassion for the world. (Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 10:23-27).

As one who has been sent forth to live in the world, the Christian needs to know the world in which he lives.  He is to be in the world, but not of the world. Being in the world, the Christian soon recognizes that there are often no clear cut answers to the issues he must face.  He is dwarfed by the enormity of social evils and confused by the complexity of the issues of life. But as a Christian he knows he can neither abdicate his responsibility to face the social evils, nor can he comfort himself with easy answers to difficult social, economic, and political problems. (Philippians 2;12-13).

As he seeks to live in this world, the Christian realizes the necessity of thinking and acting together with other Christians as well as persons and groups other than his own. The Christian does not face the world alone. But he grows in strength through the Christian community he is bound together in the unity of the Spirit with others who belong to Jesus Christ. (Eph. 4:15-16). The Church is composed of men and women from all walks of life and with a variety of experience.  It is within this community that fellow Christians share their knowledge and their experience in the world.  Within this community also God calls his people to listen to what the world is saying to the church. In this act of the church, there is a need for this continual sharing and reflection upon the issues confronting Christians in the world.  As the church does this in faithfulness to the mind of Christ, it can provide its people with a Christian understanding of the issues, a guide for living their faith, and strength for action the present world.

It is in answer to this call to live and to serve God in the world that this statement of social concern is made.  It is provided as a guide for Christian thinking and action in meeting the present problems of Philippine society.

 

The Church and Economic Development

Immediate economic development is today a pressing problem for all Asian countries.  To meet the demands of their people for a more abundant life, the governments of Asia have concentrated their energies in discovering the right economic formula for increasing national income and alleviating their nation’s poverty.

 

Population Trends

The necessity for an immediate solution to economic problems has been intensified by concern over the consequences of present population trends.  Population experts and governmental authorities throughout the world are apprehensive over the ability of the earth’s resources to meet the demands of the rapidly expanding world population.  The problem is especially acute for those nations just beginning to develop their economic potential. In these lands, unrelenting population expansion put even greater pressure on speeding up the process of economic development.

Reliable estimates of Philippine population growth show an annual increase of almost 3%.  In 1957, the Philippines showed a figure of 203 persons per square mile of land area.  By 1980 an estimated population of 57 million will push this figure to over 500 persons per square mile.  This increase in population will vastly affect the direction taken by the Philippine economy in the immediate future. What should the Philippine government stress in its economic development plans? The necessity for the agricultural sector to produce enough food to meet basic human needs stands high on the priority list.  The ability of industrialization to provide the machinery for rapid development and to provide jobs for the increasing numbers entering the labor market is another major concern.  Still, another problem is the need to provide adequate space and facilities for already over-crowded urban areas.

 

Modern Technology

Faced by the immensity of their tasks, Asian governments have looked to modern technology as an answer to their dilemma.  In their plans for economic development, great stress has been laid upon building up the industrial masses.  And industrialization produces mass results. To feed, clothe and house the growing millions require technological efficiency and the methods of production. With this in mind, the Philippine government has made concerted efforts to industrialize its economy.  Leaders in all areas of the nation’s life have pointed to the need for a healthier balance between the agricultural and industrial sectors of the economy.  In the post-war period, the industry has taken on greater importance in the nation’s economy.  The industrial sector which has accounted for 13% of the total national income in 1940 has been raised to a figure of 24% in 1958.  As industrialization becomes more of a force in the nation, the Philippines can look forward to more locally manufactured goods in meeting her people’s particular needs.  Not only will the industry provide more jobs, but it will also decrease the dependence of the Philippines upon overseas manufactured goods.  Industrialization will bring benefits to the people in the form of a greater variety of locally produced goods, in terms of higher wages, and a rising standard of living.  But in this movement to industrialize there are problems which should not be overlooked.

 

Need for Agricultural Development

 There is a danger that in intensifying the demands for industrialization the nation will neglect its agricultural base.  A healthy agricultural sector is not only necessary to the physical well-being of the people, but the income from productive and efficient from productive and efficient agriculture can also provide capital for the development of the industrial sector as well.  It should, therefore, be the concern of the Philippine churches that in the development of the economy, due attention be paid to programs aimed at increasing the productivity and income of the agricultural areas. Alongside this problem is the need to encourage employment in the agricultural areas of the country.  WE LOOK WITH APPROVAL UPON ALL ATTEMPTS AT MEETING THE PROBLEMS OF THE RURAL AREAS WITHIN THE BROAD PERSPECTIVE OF DEVELOPMENT OF COMMUNITY LIFE.  WE GIVE OUR SUPPORT TO PROGRAMS (I.E, PACD) WHICH FOSTER SELF-HELP AND FURTHER COMMUNITY COOPERATION ON THE BARRIO LEVEL. WE ENCOURAGE OUR PEOPLE IN RURAL AREAS TO MAKE USE OF GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE PROGRAMS AIMED AT INCREASING THEIR FARM PRODUCTIVITY AND DEVELOPING SOUND COMMUNITY LIFE.

Believing in the process of grassroots democracy we encourage our rural people to discuss policies of the national government which directly affect the agricultural areas. We, furthermore, encourage them to express their thinking on these issues through local government channels and to those national officials responsible for making Philippine policy and legislation.

 

Industrialization and Rapid Social Change

Another effect which should not be overlooked is the impact of industrialization upon the total culture.  The growth of a strong industrial sector, which took over two centuries in Europe and the United States, cannot be capsulized into a short period of time without having repercussions both on Philippine culture and economy. The demands technology makes upon a people and the new social context it creates, disrupts old cultural patterns.  Industry requires a new discipline which was unknown in farm work.  Factories are run according to strict daily time schedules.  These schedules do not take into account the social obligations of family life or fiesta celebrations.  Industry breaks down old social patterns and draws men into new social relationships which other fellow workers, and with new friends in the city.

 

Urbanization

Industrialization spurs on the growth of cities.  In the organization of industry, factory sites are chosen with an eye to the area’s labor supply, the transportation facilities and a stable market for the product produced.  In underdeveloped countries, the industry chooses existing cities.  Thus in establishing factories in these cities, the industry has helped to create what a UNESCO Report called primate cities. Into these cities flock thousands of people looking for work or seeking and escape from the boredom and drudgery of farm life.  In the rapid growth of cities, social problems have been multiplied beyond the resources of the city governments.  Over-crowding in slum areas create health, law and order, and education problems.

Thus the industry must bear some of the burdens of the social problems it has helped create in the cities.

The Church must apply itself to the problems arising in the cities.  The Church recognizes that the concentration of industry in one year or two urban centers, not only creates over-crowding in these centers, but also deprives other areas of the benefits of industrialization. THEREFORE, WE URGE THE GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE INDUSTRY TO SEEK WAYS IN WHICH THE GROWING INDUSTRY OF THE COUNTRY CAN BE DECENTRALIZED OVER A WIDER AREA.  WE CALL UPON THE NATIONAL AND CITY GOVERNMENTS, AS WELL AS PRIVATE ENTERPRISE, TO EXPAND THEIR PROGRAMS FOR LOW-INCOME HOUSING PROJECTS TO PROVIDE FOR THE GROWING POPULATION OF THE CITIES.  WE ARE CONCERNED WITH THE CITIES’ SOCIAL PROBLEMS AND CALL UPON THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT TO WORK TOGETHER WITH THE CITY GOVERNMENTS IN EXPANDING WELFARE SERVICES FOR THE NUMEROUS SQUATTER FAMILIES AND INDIVIDUALS CAUGHT IN DISINTEGRATING SOCIAL CONDITIONS.  AT THE SAME TIME WE OFFER OUR RESOURCES IN WORKING TOGETHER WITH GOVERNMENT AND OTHER AGENCIES IN STUDYING AND MEETING THESE PROBLEMS.

 

Unemployment

 One of the factors which foster poor social conditions within cities is the problem of unemployment.  Many people in seeking to escape the boredom of the countryside come to the city for work. They come wholly unprepared for the conditions they will face and without the abilities necessary for the employment in the cities’ business life: unemployment is the end result. In viewing this situation the church realizes its own responsibility in appraising its own people in the rural areas of the difficulties of city life.  Not only should the church educate its people in the rural areas to the personal and family adjustment required by city life, but it must point out the limited job opportunities that exist for unskilled workers.

IN THE LIGHT OF THIS SITUATION, WE EONCOURAGE THE APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM AND OTHER PROGRAMS OF THE GOVERNMENT AIMED AT DEVELOPING THE VOCATIONAL SKILLS OF THE PEOPLE IN AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRY.  WE ARE CONCERENED, HOWEVER, THAT THESE TRAINING PROGRAMS SHOULD BE CAREFULLY PLANNED ACCORDING TO PRESENT AND FUTURE INDUSTRIAL NEEDS.  AT THE SAME TIME AS YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN ARE BEING TRAINED FOR INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, WE CALL UPON THE GOVERNMENT, TOGETHER WITH PRIVATE INDUSTRY, TO STRENGTHEN THOSE AGENCIES WHICH ARE CONCERNED WITH THE QUALITY AND STANDARDIZATION OF LOCAL PRODUCTS.

In the rural areas where seasonal unemployment often times sends people to seek their fortunes in the city, the church recognizes the need for the development of household and cottage industries.  WE CALL FOR THE CONCERTED EFFORT OF THE GOVERNMENT IN CARRYING THROUGH COTTAGE INDUSTRY PROGRAMS.  WE NO ONLY ENCOURAGE OUR OWN INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS TO INVEST  IN WELL=PLANNED COTTAGE INDUSTRIES WHICH WILL MEET LOCAL NEEDS, BUT WE ALSO OFFER OUR SUPPORT TO ECONOMICALLY FEASIBLE COTTAGE INDUSTRY PROJECTS.

One of the necessities of spreading the benefits of industrialization is the development of roads in the outlying areas.  Not only do roads help in raising the economic level throughout the country, but they also encourage the movement of industry to other areas.  WE CALL UPON THE NATIONAL, PROVINCIAL AND MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENTS, TO PROVIDE FOR A WIDER NETWORK OF ROADS IN FURTHERING THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ECONOMIC POTENTIALITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES.

 

Trade Union Movement and Management Relation

In the last 10 years, the trade union movement has come to play an active role in the Philippine economy.  Since 1953 with the passage of the Magna Carta of Labor, trade unions have grown from 803 to 2,505 in 1959.  As industrialization continues it ca be expected that trade unions will also increase.  Not only had the trade union movement been organizing the industrial sector of the Philippines, but it has moved into the agricultural sector as well.

Trade union exists to see that the benefits of the industrial system are more equitably distributed to those who help produce these benefits.  In a rapidly growing society responsible trade unions are not only means for seeking justice, but they also provide a new social grouping for workers drawn away from the older social patterns of the countryside.  Trade unions have the great task of training those in the lower economic groups to take responsibility as citizens within their own community and in the nation as a whole.  Besides this educational task of the trade union, there is also a need to better prepare their people for the discipline required by the new industrial society. Responsible trade unions have the opportunity of serving the whole people by training their trade unionists to understand their role in the production needs of a growing nation.  Responsible trade union leadership seeks to foster better labor-management relations.

IN THE LIGHT OF THIS SITUATION WE ENCOURAGE A FREE, RESPONSIBLE AND DEMOCRATIC TRADE UNION MOVEMENT.  WE SEE THE OPPORTUNITY FOR EDUCATING THE GREAT NUMBERS OF WORKERS TO RESPONSIBLE CITIZENSHIP AND WORKMANSHIP THROUGH THE TRADE UNIONS.  WE ALSO RECOGNIZE THE PLACE OF TRADE UNIONS IN ACHIEVING A MORE EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF THE BENEFITS PRODUCED BY LABOR.  WE CALL UPON OUR OWN CHRISTIAN WORKMEN TO SUPPORT THE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT AND TO PROVIDE THE RESPONSIBLE PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP NECESSARY TO ACHIEVING THE GOALS OF FREEDOM AND JUSTICE IN SOCIETY.  WE ARE CONCERNED ALSO WITH THE TREMENDOUS TASK AND RESPONSIBILITY PLACED UPON MANAGEMENT IN DEVELOPING THE ECONOMIC RESOURCES OF THE NATION.  THEREFORE, WE ENCOURAGE THOSE ENGAGED IN THIS TASK TO DISCOVER WAYS AND MEANS OF DIRECTING THE FORCES OF ECONOMIC LIFE INTO HEALTHY PATTERNS OF COMMUNITY LIVING.

 

The Responsibility of the Laity

 INDUSTRIALIZATION NOT ONLY BRINGS ABOUT NEW SOCIAL STRUCTURES BUT CREATES NEW ATTITUDES TOWARD LIFE. OUR JUDEO-CHRISTIAN HERITAGE, WHICH SEES THE WORKS AS CREATED AND RULED BY GOD, IS REPLACED IN A TECHNOLOGICAL SOCIETY BY AN OVER-APPRECIATION OF MAN’S POWER IN CREATING THE NECESSITIES OF LIFE.  IN A COMMERCIALIZED SOCIETY, THINGS BECOME MORE VALUED THAN PEOPLE. RELIGION BECOMES MORE AND MORE RELEGATED TO THE PRACTICE OF ANCIENT RITUALS AND SPECIAL OBSERVANCES.  REALIZING THE DANGER OF MODERN SOCIETY TO PUSH RELIGION OFF INTO A CORNER, WE REMIND OUR PEOPLE OF THEIR OBEDIENCE TO JESUS CHRIST IN ALL AREAS OF LIFE.  WE RECOGNIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE LAYMAN’S WITNESS IN HIS WORK AND CALL UPON OUR PEOPLE TO LIVE OUT THEIR CHRISTIAN CALLING RESPONSIBLY IN THE POLITICAL, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC REALMS OF DAILY LIFE.  WE DECLARE THAT THE LORD OF THE CHURCH IS ALSO THE LORD OF THE FACTORY, THE FARM, AND THE OFFICE, AND IS SOVEREIGN WHEREVER MEN LIVE AND WORK.

 

POSTSCRIPT

Our attention has been called to other social issues which should concern us as a church. Some of these issues are planned parenthood and birth control, rural credit and cooperatives, the effect of fiestas upon economic life, and Filipino First Policy.  While we consider these issues worthy of the church’s attention we have not had time to study them carefully and thoughtfully.  We, therefore, pass on these problems of the Department of Public Welfare for further consideration and study.

 

 

 

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Ref: Action 60-55 General Assembly, Legaspi City, May 19-24, 1960 pp.32, Statement is in Appendix pp. 222-227; Action 60-141 Executive Committee, May 27-29, 1960 p.58.

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