Self-esteem building and addressing the issue of “class determinism”

The self-esteem of people especially from low income communities are challenged everyday by the increasing social gap between the high income communities and the low income ones.The widening social divide because of the poor’s problem of access to fair labor practices beats the poor’s self-esteem black and blue. This should not be the case in a decent and caring society.

The class divide keeps society backward in its expected progress into different evolutionary dimensions, be they economic, political or cultural in nature. While it is a fact that the prevailing systemic arrangement of the structures of society is very anti-poor, a dogmatically class-based social analysis can lead to “class determinism” which is the last thing that human development interventions will be about. Change in society will be difficult to achieve without a deep and broad framework for social analysis.

Social analysis is important for interventions such as community organizing and other humanitarian actions but to make “class determinism” the definite paradigm for action will perpetuate the “victim” mindset of people who are truly victimized by an unjust system. Yes, by all means, class analysis should be part of the tools for analyzing poverty but forgetting to incorporate factors such as the the discourse on cosmic forces affecting life; or the idea of keeping the right and the left brain in perfect balance will tend to reinforce the deterministic tendency of the class analysis framework.

There are still raised eyebrows among community organizers taking the side of the “pure” class analysis framework that do not broaden the framework so as to include the discourse on the uniqueness and unpredictability of the human mind when analyzing poverty. That there is still that innate force inside every person - rich or poor they may be - to be able to rise above the day-to-day ordinariness of living should be factored into any tool for social analysis. While social structures tend to deaden the poor’s capacity for analysis so as to be able to take the responsibility to change their own situation, the unpredictability of the “factor of inspiration” or the capacity of the human spirit for things higher than what society molds them, is still a constant in every person. Something unimaginably “out of the box “capacity in each individual is still latent in every person, whatever station in life the person may be. The analysis of society cannot just be limited to the analysis of the economic or political and cultural system affecting income and social behavior. The analysis of society should encompass the inner positive forces innate to human beings like the capacity for courage, forgiveness and love.

Any intervention for social change assumes a responsibility for the emancipation of the “victim” mentality of people in situations of poverty and alienation. People may still be materially poor but with a free mind – meaning free to create the reality aspired for and therefore shedding off the burden ofthe perception of being oppressed and therefore being forever angry and hopeless– the first block to the creation of possibilities will have been laid down.

Like a flower, a human being has an innate beauty that can transcend the class divide

This lovely photo is from jam343 from Flickr.com. Click on the photo to go to jam343 at Flickr.com