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A first view on the testimonies: the young worker’s dignity is just non-negotiable

This opening input aims at facilitating the sharing between the present YCW movement and its former leaders. It has been nourished by the answers of nearly 200 YCW former leaders to a questionnaire sent by the IYCW at the beginning of 2016. These numerous contributions, coming from all continents, paved the way towards this (very important in our point of view) meeting aiming at discerning the possibilities for the present national movements and the international secretariat to reckon on the support and assistance of some of their elders ready to help the movement which had contributed to form them.

Of course former leaders have their own commitments in all sorts of fields. But they still recognize the extent to which their experience in the movement has marked and shaped them up, and how it still helps them fulfill their present commitments and responsibilities. Our sharing during this colloquy should allow us to clarify the conditions and the areas in which the movement’s present key-leaders could count on their elders’ support. Finding concrete forms of collaboration and support will depend on our sharing. This input is just an attempt to highlight some important aspects of the former YCW leaders’ journeys since their involvement in the movement.

These testimonies show how the movement has guided their whole being and life. Most of them found their life orientation and commitment within the YCW, through the awareness and action it allowed them to develop at various levels. The movement worked as a trigger in their life. Even though they may have gone through highly different types of commitments or actions in the different contexts they encountered, they all reckon that their commitments and actions were rooted in what they had discovered in the YCW.

The former leaders who answered our questionnaire (and surely a number of others who did not do it) are highly concerned, if not worried, about the YCW capacity to still offer to the young workers of today, in all countries, the similar educational opportunities as the ones they benefited of in the past. It means that the young people who are in charge of the YCW must in all times be allowed to develop the movement in accordance with the various contexts they face: that is what the history of any institution or living organization is made of. Yet, on the other hand, the former leaders always note that any YCW member can be identified through some common constant behaviors, such as the way he relates with others, the way he refers to the reality and commits himself to change it.

That is what the beautiful diversity of the testimonies shows most: each person is unique in his or her way of concretizing his or her commitment. The context in which he or she lived, were different and the times have changed. Each narrative has its own color… but they all bring the same characteristics to light, the same “values” expressed a thousand fold through the same words: dignity, solidarity, justice.

The young worker’s dignity is just non-negotiable. Each generation of leaders stresses it again and again, often using Cardijn’s words. It is an inescapable landmark. This dignity is altogether a given characteristic of all young workers, and a still-to-be-gained characteristic in each one’s concrete situation. It nurtures a type of solidarity which does not restrict itself to punctual actions, but which inspires a permanent way of living: “the other one is my brother”. Such a society requires an unending struggle for justice, at all possible level, from the common daily life to the international realities, in all its individual and international dimensions. All these aspects always affect the way the reality is analyzed and assessed, and the action which is planned accordingly.

Finally, to conclude, the first read of the whole testimonies, a big thanks, first of all, to all who took the time of making themselves available to write down their testimonies: these testimonies are highly inspiring documents as they all speak of their past and present social commitments. Former YCW leaders were indeed, and still are, true protagonists of a new society.

Note: A registration to participate in the colloquy is required

IYCW International Council 2016

International Colloquy of former YCW leaders 2016