Today there is a lot of reflection in our movement about the spirituality of young workers. We are raising so many questions about ourselves in our reflections. Are the young workers to day believers any more? Are the young workers following any religion? Are they spiritual? Are they secular? Are they materialists and consumerists? These are though provoking and very interesting questions. Why are we raising these questions today? It is not because of the criticism we get from the leaders of different religions about us but because of our “thirst to search and discover the meaning of our life and our daily actions we do as young workers”.
Young workers and Religion
Today we see and understand religion as a set of institutionalized beliefs and practices based on some supernatural powers. Religion is based on faith rather than demonstrable truth. We see religion well organized. The major religions of the world have millions of followers. We see that the religions have a very strong hierarch from the top to the bottom to ensure the basic teachings are transmitted the followers. In addition to the worship of an unseen supreme power, religion also provides a code of conduct for daily life on earth, often with the promise of reward for a life well lived and punishment for transgression.
For us religion is a cause for both encouragement and frustration. It is encouragement because we see the teachings of all major religions asking us to practice values such as love, unity, peace, brotherhood, truth and justice. It is frustrating because we see today conflicts, fights, violence, oppression and hatred in the name of religion. It is because each religion wants to dominate the other. Many young workers and members of our movement are also the followers of the major religions. We, in our groups, bring witness to love, unity, peace and brotherhood. It is because we organize young workers of different faiths such as Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and non believers. Our members recognize and respect all faiths. Thus we are practicing the value co-existence in our life today.
Young workers and Spirituality
We understand “spirituality as a thirst or a search to discover our identity as a person and what we live for”. It is a quest to discover his/her essence that he/she really is. It is that which gives a meaning or purpose for our existence. It is a sense of self respect and respect for others and the nature. Spirituality for us is more than religion. It is a way of life. It gives birth to the values that make us who we are.
We as young workers want to have a feeling of “at home” in our work place. We want to have a level of happiness in the work we do with a great level of responsibility at the same time. We want our worth at our work place. We want our opinion, our input, our presence and our entire being appreciated when we do our work. When we realize that we are worth, we are cared, we are heard and we are appreciated then we begin to discover ourselves and the meaning of what we do in our work place and life. This is what the essence of our spirituality is.
Young workers, Spirituality and Actions
Very often in our work place we do not have the feeling of “at home”. We do not feel happy in our work place. We are not being valued and our worth is not being respected. Then we start to link this situation with our spirituality mentioned above. We start to reflect this situation with our spirituality. In the reflection process, we begin to realise that there is a contradiction between our spirituality and the reality that we experience. We begin to question this contradiction. In the process of this reflection and questions we begin to realise that this reality needs to be changes. We bring in references from religion, holy books, and life of the people who lived for justice, truth, peace and solidarity to convince us that we have to live out our spirituality in this contradicting situation. This is the starting point of action. We commit to do something to bring in change in the situation. We commit to respond to this situation. This is called action. This action comes from our own spirituality. Therefore, those who have spirituality do not remain silent to the contradicting situation they face. The response (the action) only brings changes in the situation. The process of change in our work situations can be longer or immediate. However, only through our action we could bring change. Therefore, we see there is a link between our spirituality, our actions and the change that comes through our action in our work place and life.
Finally spirituality of young workers today in our movement is to live out our worth through struggle (action) with the strong hope to bring in change in our work place. As young workers and being part of the movement of young workers we have a strong commitment to live out our spirituality through the daily actions we take in our life and work place to enjoy the feeling “at home”.
“How are we to be Christians in a world of destitution and injustice? There can be only one answer: we can be followers of Jesus and true Christians only by making common cause with the poor and working out the gospel of liberation”. (Leonardo and Clodovis Boff)