707. There are always individuals who lack the means to survive, despite living surrounded by abundance. Who should be blamed for this?
“At the selfishness of humans, who too often prevents them to do what they need. Next, and most often, the individuals themselves are to blame. Christ said, ‘Seek, and you shall find but these words do not imply that all you have to do is look down on the ground to find anything that you may want. You must search for what you want passionately and with perseverance, without being discouraged by obstacles that are often only a means of testing your determination, patience, and resolve.” (See no. 534)
While civilization increases our needs, it also increases our resources and means of survival. However, we must confess that there is much that still needs to be done. Civilization will achieve its task only when human beings no longer lack the necessities of life, unless this is through no fault other than their own. Unfortunately, many individuals choose the wrong path and, because nature has not intended it for them, they fail – that is when they lack the intelligence to succeed. There is room for everyone, but each person must assume his or her own place, and not that of another. Nature cannot fairly be held responsible for the effects of a flawed social organization, nor for those of personal selfishness and ambition.
We would have to be blind, however, if we did not acknowledge the progress that has already been accomplished in this direction among the most advanced nations. Philanthropy and science have focused on the betterment of humankind and despite an increasing global population; they have managed to minimize the effects of insufficient production dramatically.
Today, the most unfavorable years of an economic cycle are far less disastrous than in the past. For example, hygiene, which is a critical point for public and individual health, and of which our ancestors had little or no knowledge, is a constant subject of scientific research and investigation. Likewise, refuge is provided for the unfortunate and suffering, and every new scientific discovery is made to contribute to the general well-being of all. May it be said that we have attained perfection? Oh, certainly not. But what has been accomplished is just a glimpse of what may be done, with perseverance. Human beings must focus on seeking practical improvements, instead of wasting their energy on idealistic projects that set them back rather than pushing them forward.