Sharing my thoughts on the exam we had last semester on Social Structures and Processes in Philippine Communities–very timely and related to the spate of killings and atrocities being experienced by our lumad brothers and sisters in Mindanao.
Making participation more inclusive and enabling in a community whose experiences with collective work has been discouraging or their collective actions have been met with violent repercussions
I believe that participation can be made more inclusive and enabling as a process when the community, at a minimum, acknowledges that every member has something in important they could share to all and that has capacities which can be enhanced and used for the good of the community.
Recognizing that every member of the community has significant knowledge, skills and experiences he/she could share to all, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, origin, etc. makes participation more inclusive.
Moreover, I believe that education and learning is needed to gain better community participation because of the process of conscientization—that is, when the people in the community learn to perceive the social, political and economic contradictions, and take more compelling and effective action against these oppressive structures.
When community members are critically conscious that what they experience is the result of unequal sharing of power and resources, as well as understand that not making any form of action to address these issues will perpetuate the state they are in, they are able to create more effective and creative solutions. Especially when faced with very powerful structures that use violence to suppress their actions, being more aware and informed also enhances their ability to develop strategic networks and alliances outside their community which could provide them the necessary as well as additional support and resources to confront these structures.
Theoretically, these seem easy to do, but in real life, very difficult to achieve. Nonetheless, I think adequate recognition of the abilities and maximization of community potentials for change are crucial if inclusive and enabling participation is to occur.