LGW's written statement to the 2020 ECOSOC High-Level Segment
We, from the Legião da Boa Vontade / Legion of Good Will, submit our recommendations to the 2020 ECOSOC High-Level Segment, under the theme “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.”
These proposals are based on the extensive work we have undertaken in the areas of education and social assistance for 70 years by means of a network that operates 95 units in seven countries. In 2020 alone, we provided 15,6 million services and benefits to people living in poverty in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Portugal, the United States, and Uruguay. Our recommendations will be presented in two main topics: immediate humanitarian response to Covid-19 and the strengthening of the 2030 Agenda after the pandemic.
1- Expand humanitarian aid networks for underprivileged communities during social distancing
In order to assist struggling communities during these challenging times due to the new coronavirus outbreak, we have mobilized our network of supporters to distribute nonperishable food baskets and hygiene/cleaning supplies in all countries where we are located.
Following the public authorities’ guidelines to contain the spread of Covid-19, millions of families were forced out of their jobs and daily activities to comply with social distancing. Without work and school, many of these families lost their income, and therefore, struggle to buy food.
In all of our 95 units, we observed that the need for our emergency and humanitarian services grew rapidly, which prompted us to activate our SOS Disaster Relief campaign on an international scale to support thousands of the most vulnerable families in this phase of seclusion, including homeless people and residents in slums, tenements, and settlements.
In order to be able to expand our support capacity, it was necessary to increase health safety measures and training staff and volunteers; expand our network of supporters, including individuals and corporations; and strengthen our logistics operation, transportation, and distribution of goods.
One of the highlights was the engagement of digital influencers, including music, TV, and sports celebrities, who used their online platforms to strengthen our campaigns. Until the closing of this statement (April 27th, 2020), more than 115 tons of food had been distributed to families in situations of extreme social vulnerability.
In view of the growing need for emergency relief, the LGW recommends that governments, international agencies, and the private sector expand their platforms of multi-stakeholder cooperation with civil society. With unity, innovation, and solidarity, we become stronger and more effective in alleviating the suffering of human lives in this alarming world scenario.
2- Strengthen the 2030 Agenda for post-pandemic world
The second topic of our recommendations is the strengthening of the 2030 Agenda after the unprecedented crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to the immediate access to basic services, we believe that education plays a prominent role in helping our communities adapt to a new global scenario. The Pedagogy of Affection (for children up to 10 years old) and the Ecumenical Citizen Pedagogy (for those who are 11 and over) provide our educators with the tools needed to empower students in such a way that they can face the challenging current reality.
This educational proposal was devised by educator José de Paiva Netto, President of the Organization. It promotes the complete development of individuals, combining “Brain and Heart;” in other words, guaranteeing that learning not only considers reasoning, but also takes into account the feelings and emotions of the students, by integrating cognitive aspects and values of Ecumenical Spirituality. People need to understand and manage their emotions, especially during times of crisis. That is why resilience, which is essential to deal with pressure, is developed in our schools, shelters for the elderly, and social service centers.
The book A esperança não morre nunca [Hope Never Dies] (2020), written by José de Paiva Netto, contains excerpts from impromptu speeches delivered by him since the 1980s, which express the principles of our educational proposal and social actions. Among them, we highlight one that addresses the incentive to seek solutions to the world’s challenges.
“Do Not Fear the Crisis. It Will Pass, but You Will Remain.
“In the current days, we are always facing insurmountable difficulties that challenge us along the way. Let us look at this example: when a financial crisis arises, attention is given to its consequences. Politicians, economists, businesspeople, analysts, and workers, whether against or in favor, express their opinions on the measures needed to reduce or boost consumption, or any other issue, thereby avoiding, as they expect, greater social upheaval in countries. But despite all the concern, let us learn how to use this moment to achieve balance, without which it will be difficult for us to triumph.
“What is a crisis if not an opportunity disguised as misfortune? As I have been saying for decades, obstacles are prizes to our intelligence given to us by God, serving as an encouragement for all of those who do not give up on the accomplishments that have been justifying their existences and giving purpose to their lives. It is when one can best develop their talents. Every difficulty bears within itself a solution, as taught by the ancient and experienced Eastern culture. Complaining builds nothing. We must fight against discouragement without deceiving the masses. If desolate, people and nations either fall as easy prey or rise in insurrection. “I usually say that it is in times of crisis that great characters are forged and the most powerful nations arise.”
"The Wisdom of Confucius
Dreaming is necessary, fighting for a more decent world is needed. Pari passu, it is also required to keep both feet on the ground, that is, to be aware that the desired changes do not occur without real efforts.
"Let us meditate on the words of wisdom by Confucius (551-479 B.C.), from The Doctrine of the Mean: ‘Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure. . .. If we know our duties beforehand, it will be easy for us to fulfil them. . .. If we determine our standard of conduct in this life sufficiently in advance, at no time will our spirit be assailed by restlessness."
"This is pure planning and effective action. As a matter of fact, the philosophy of the respected Chinese master is considered one of the foundations of the notable impulse that gave rise to the ‘Asian Tigers,’ also shaken by this global tension. When notable world economies meet—naturally driven by the survival instinct—in search of beneficial mechanisms to face the crisis, it is essential that reason be permeated by the spirit of solidarity (still rare among international relations). The heart is more willing to listen when Fraternity is the basis of dialogue. The nations shall understand someday that without Fraternal Love, or whichever name given by a technical language, they shall have to go through the greatest afflictions prophesied by Jesus in chapter 24 of His Gospel according to Matthew, especially in verse 21: ‘For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now, and never to be equalled again."
Furthermore, Life is about being constantly accountable to the court of conscience, from which no one can ever escape, even if he or she does not reveal it. It needs to be stressed that, along with God’s Love, there is also Heavenly Justice. Supreme redemption demands corresponding attitudes from those creatures who are reinvigorated by Divine Love. Otherwise, impunity would be glorified.
Strong willingness is the appropriate answer to any crisis. . .. Let us not forget that—when we remain in God—even adversity presents itself as the most propitious moment to create.
Some people spend years expecting the worst to happen. That alone is a good reason to fall sick. Why not hope for the best and work to make it happen? Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) calls our attention to a most exuberant truth: ’How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened!’ And there is still that Russian proverb that advises: ’Pray to God but continue to row to the shore."
We express our solidarity and appreciation to everyone—governments, international agencies, private sector, civil society organizations, universities, and individuals—who diligently work to get us through this crisis, through resilience and perseverance. We will certainly come out stronger and more productive to work for a just, solidary, and sustainable world for all.