The Battle for Identity Don Aguiar.

The Church fostered community development within the community in the Archdiocese of Bombay decades ago and to give it an added boost the Church started the SCC movement in the Archdiocese of Bombay to foster in quicker community development. The SCC project was implemented with great foresight by the Church in the hope the community will come together creating clusters, to conform to the church and be controlled by the church which would seek to improve quality of life and fortunes of her community.

The Hindu shakas and other communities picked up the same pattern from the Church. Unlike the Catholics who are brought up to respect and follow their Church and their priest the Hindu shakas took off with not their priest or holy men at the helm but ordinary people who had the foresight, from social, cultural, economic, spiritual to political and have made their presence felt and have a voice in our country’s democrat set up, the SCC’s controlled by the Church on the other hand are far behind with their presence in our country’s political democratic set up negligible or not found, as the church view and stand on surviving in a democratic set up vastly differed from that of the Hindu shaka. Merely focusing on social, cultural and spiritual in a democratic set up will not give a community a voice; rather it would be treated as the underdog. The need is to know what community development is and has it actually caught on with the SCC’s.

Community development is a process where SCC members come together to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems. Community wellbeing (economic, social, environmental and cultural) often evolves from this type of collective action being taken at a grassroots level. Community development ranges from small initiatives within a small group to large initiatives that involve the broader parish community.

Effective community development should be:

a long-term endeavor, // well-planned, inclusive and equitable, // holistic and integrated into the bigger picture, // initiated and supported by community members, // of benefit to the community, // grounded in experience that leads to best practices

Community development is a grassroots process by which SCC’s / communities:

become more responsible, // organize and plan together, // develop healthy lifestyle options, // empower themselves, // reduce poverty and suffering, // create employment and economic opportunities, // achieve social, economic, cultural and environmental goals

Community development seeks to improve quality of life. Effective community development results in mutual benefit and shared responsibility among SCC / community members.

Such development recognizes:

the connection between social, cultural, environmental and economic matters, // the diversity of interests within a SCC or community, // its relationship to building capacity

Community development helps to build the SCC’s / community capacity in order to address issues and take advantage of opportunities, find common ground and balance competing interests. It doesn’t just happen – capacity building requires both a conscious and a conscientious effort to do something (or many things) to improve the SCC / community

The term “development” often carries an assumption of growth and expansion. During the industrial era, development was strongly connected to increased speed, volume and size. However, many people are currently questioning the concept of growth for numerous reasons – a realization that more isn’t always better, or an increasing respect for reducing outside dependencies and lowering levels of consumerism. So while the term “development” may not always mean growth, it always imply change.

Change is the only constant. And yet, a conscious change of mind and heart is rare enough to be truly inspiring.

The community development process takes charge of the conditions and factors that influence a SCC / community and changes the quality of life of its members. Community development is a tool for managing change but it is not: a quick fix or a short-term response to a specific issue within a SCC / community or a process that seeks to exclude SCC / community members from participating; or an initiative that occurs in isolation from other related community activities.

Community development is about SCC / community building as such, where the process is as important as the results. One of the primary challenges of community development is to balance the need for long-term solutions with the day-to-day realities that require immediate decision-making and short-term action.

Community development is a way of strengthening the community by prioritizing the actions of the community members, and their perspectives in the development of social, economic and environmental policy. It seeks the empowerment of small local communities, taken to mean geographical communities. It strengthens the capacity of people as active community members through their SCC / community groups, to work in dialogue with community members to shape and determine change in their communities. It plays a crucial role in supporting active democratic life by promoting the autonomous voice of disadvantaged and vulnerable community members. It has a set of core values/social principles covering human rights, social inclusion, equality and respect for diversity; and a specific skills and knowledge base.

Good community development is action that helps people to recognize and develop their ability and potential and organize themselves to respond to problems and needs which they share.  It supports the establishment of strong communities that control and use assets to promote social justice and help improve the quality of SCC / community life.  It also enables the SCC’s to work together to improve the quality of the entire community.

Purpose: People want to live in healthy communities. These are communities in which they:

feel able to be who they are, // have positive prospects for their future, // experience respect and equal and fair treatment

Focus: To achieve this people want to be in a community that:

creates wealth and gives everyone access to its benefits, // cares for all its members, when they need it, throughout their life span, // provides an environment that is safe and attractive, // enables people to express and celebrate their creativity and diverse cultures, // enables everyone to participate in decisions that affect their lives

Methods: To support the SCC / community, members to contribute to the creation of such a community, community development promotes:

opportunity for people to learn and develop their own skills, // reaches out to and involves those who may be excluded or disadvantaged, // helps communities to create organizations that can tackle their needs and represent their interests, // works to promote engagement and dialogue between communities and agencies or the government that affect their lives

Although the SCC’s are in existence for over a decade or more, the above “Purpose, Focus and Methods” are yet to take proper shape in the respective SCC’s. Is it because there is certain unwillingness amongst most people to chart the uncharted; be contrarian and think out of the box, which is why, perhaps, we are a world that looks very similar. Our homes look the same; our surroundings have been standardized; we now talk of only consistency and not SCC’s that will impart joy and create a life that is exciting.

The thought that things must be consistent is jarring. Why should things look the same? Life is not a hotel where you need directions to guide you. Life is about taking each day as it comes, not knowing what’s going to happen. And in each area of our lives, we have injected consistency. It is almost as if we are fearful of trying something new or taking on responsibility or dedicatedly implementing good community development in our SCC’s.

The problem lies with us. We have nothing new to offer either in our thinking or in our personal lives or, even in our news. It is all the same. The same format; the same news; the same opinions; the same prejudices and, worse, even the same look. Even the way we plan moments of personal celebration have begun to look the same.

We live in silos and not in the unfettered environs of a world that should stoke independent thinking, dedication, responsibility and the like.

Most of our community members have striking resemblances with each other: in the manner they think; in the way they suck up to the powers that be; in the way they conduct their responsibilities and so on. This results in creating a community which terrifyingly resembles each other. And this cannot augur well. Human beings are meant to be different, which is why we aren’t robots. Our thinking is meant to be independent and not conformist. That’s in our DNA and we are constantly suppressing it. We want to be politically correct, socially conformist only because we want to be a part of them. But the tragedy is there are no them. We are what make up community and today, with all the knowledge at our command, we are forcing ourselves into a tunnel of darkness and despair. It is easier to give up good and turn towards evil, rather than the other way around.

We often abuse the system. But yet again there is no system. We are the system. We love to palm off our inadequacies or the lack of risk appetite on others but who are the others. True, sometimes we have an education system that is not perfect but does that prevent us from reading out of prescribed text books?

The fact is we don’t want to think for ourselves anymore. We have outsourced everything that we should be doing to someone else. SCC’s as the Church puts it, is the respective SCC’s responsibility immediately after it is formed even though it is the parish priest who is responsible for the successful implementation and guidance of this project, as this project is controlled by the Church. We have outsourced parenting to schools and nannies, romance to typified relationship clusters like marriage, knowledge to search engines and the Church their SCC project to the laity. And, for god’s sake, let’s not ponder over why the Church has outsourced the SCC’s which they control to the laity. So, who should we really blame for this plight?

All of this began with the advent of religion. Religion was meant to control, conform and create clusters. Today, in many countries and also in many SCC’s and among the many respective communities it is also the cause of war, strife, unpleasantness, jealousness, pride, murder and destruction. The solace we found in religious diktat has been replaced by the battle for identity and to maintain identity, the Church – the Archdiocese of Bombay – keeps her community divided and fragmented in petty, minor or major squabbles, social & cultural activities  and spiritualism.

And with that – Let’s not have the audacity to hope that someday the Church will succeed in their great foresight and implement dedicatedly and earnestly the above requirements of “Purpose, Focus and Methods”.

Hope can be a stubborn thing. In the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, hope can find a way to continue to believe in an idea that it holds dear. It discounts the magnitude of the evidence, re-calibrates its original expectations, adjust to compromise in the name of realism, finds new reasons to believe when the old one starts running out and clutches at straws of any kind that appear to be within grasp. And only then, with a death rattle, it drains itself empty, leaving behind nothing but the rancid taste of humiliation of the believers for having had the audacity to hope.

About The Voice Of Bombay's Catholic Laity

Bombay Laity Ezekiel’s Chapter 3 Task as Watchman 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for[b] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.
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