Communion and Liberation Flyer
“An authentic Christian community lives in constant relationship with others, totally shares their needs, and together with them feels problems. Because of the deep brotherly experience that develops in it, the Christian community cannot help but tend to have its own idea and method for facing both practical and theoretical problems in common, to offer as its specific collaboration with all the rest of the society in which it is situated” (Fr. Giussani).
The outlook delineated by Fr. Giussani is the context for this contribution that Communion and Liberation offers everyone for a dialogue that promotes the recovery of our country.
The recession is a given
Whether one wants to acknowledge it or not, the recession exists, and it is changing the living conditions of millions of people in many countries, certainly in Italy: the number of poor people is increasing, as is the number of firms forced to close. There is the risk of being cut out from world development, declassified to a second rate country.
The recession is provoking varied reactions, often determined by the prevalence of two opposing tendencies:
• endure it, thinking in this way to exorcize it and overcome it by fixing the blame on someone (a someone who surely exists and is more responsible than others). But doing so produces no change other than increasing the complaining that can end up as desperation.
• ignore it, after having provoked it, continuing to behave as if nothing had happened and above all without questioning oneself in the least.
Reality is positive because it sets the person into motion
It is irrational to think that being against someone is enough for overcoming the recession. It is worse still to deny its existence. It is the opposite of the Judeo-Christian tradition that perceives reality as ultimately positive, even when it shows a negative and contradictory face.
In fact, reality continually sets us into motion, provoking us to take a position in the face of what happens.
This awareness has built the millenary history of the West, and unlike dualism or manichaeism, which always sees evil on one side and good on the other, it has made it possible to build the future precisely by accepting the challenges of reality, responding to them with intelligence, creativity, and capacity for sacrifice.
As Benedict XVI said, “incremental progress is possible only in the material sphere. […] Yet in the field of ethical awareness and moral decision-making, there is no similar possibility of accumulation for the simple reason that man's freedom is always new and he must always make his decisions anew. These decisions can never simply be made for us in advance by others—if that were the case, we would no longer be free. Freedom presupposes that in fundamental decisions, every person and every generation is a new beginning. (Spe salvi, 24).
This is the reason the Pope, while acknowledging the difficulty and disorientation that push each person to move in a solitary way, and to make increasingly fragile life choices, could not avoid giving the call, “Dear young people, do not fear to face these challenges! Never lose hope.” (Meeting with Young Couples, Ancona, September 11, 2011).
It is an invitation to look at the recession as an opportunity, because it forces us to realize the value of things we never think about until they are lacking, for example family, education, and work.
For that matter, Italy has gone through many crises in the last 150 years, without reacting with an a priori defense of the past, or with preconceived closure, but putting into play a capacity for change that established the premises for a continual beginning – at once new and unpredictable – of social coexistence.
So then, the question to ask concerns the content of the change, which is the fruit of freedom in action.
In the first place, one has to be honest and admit that ideology no longer pays, that statism plunges the country into debt, and that finance does not save man and only increases the crowd of the indignados, sign of a need that is at once positive (that the desires and concrete needs of people not be continually excluded from public debate) and disorderly.
In the second place, one must acknowledge that in the present situation one can find traces of a positive change.
There are people who do not let themselves be dragged along by the flow of things, but row against the current, even at the cost of sacrifices, and for this reason, are recognizable. Precisely in the midst of one of the gravest crises of our history, there are virtuous facts, signs of people who have jumped into action without waiting for others – always others – to solve the problems. Unable to change everything immediately, they began to change themselves. There are people who face reality without preclusions, and try to do everything they can without denying or forgetting anything.
Many families, who could crumble under the crush of economic difficulties, discover the value of making sacrifices, perhaps to guarantee at all costs the education of their children, to the point of accepting a more sober lifestyle; in addition, they never stop weaving networks of solidarity, and, if possible, of savings.
In the field of professional formation, marked by the persistence of favoritism, realities are being born that return to teaching young people a trade, putting the world of firms in contact again with that of schools.
One increasingly often meets teachers who, in a heavily bureaucratized, government-dominated scholastic world, imagine new teaching methods, individually or involving colleagues, even paying out of their own pockets for professional development that none of their employers provide.
In spite of the enormous difficulties in obtaining funding, works of solidarity and cooperation continue to be born; some of the “historic” ones renew rather than die. There is an expansion of the experience of gratuitous sharing of the need of millions of people, that sea of charity that has marked the history of Italy.
There are companies that, in the midst of thousands of obstacles that could force them to close, have accepted the challenge of change and are creating new jobs, increasing their sales, even though they alone cannot support the growth of Italy.
Above all, in an often discomforting panorama for youth, there are many young people who do not settle for a mediocre future: for example, universities are considered a secondary sector of social life, and yet many students – differently from what has been seen in recent years – no longer settle for the piece of paper at the end of their studies, but are quick to learn a foreign language, willing to spend periods abroad, to do internships, to study adequately, and find gratifying jobs in firms or universities abroad.
The factors of a possible change
What is the common factor in all these positive efforts?
The conviction that reality, even when it appears negative and difficult -- as we see today – brings into play again our desire to know, to build, to commit, even though it has been obscured and mortified by years of homogenization of power.
So then, the road for getting through the crisis – and for not living it in a state of resignation – is to live reality as a provocation that reawakens the desire and questioning that, concerning Italy, also means ingenuity, knowledge, creativity, and the power to unite.
These attempts show the answer to the one question nobody seems to face: what can renewed growth spring from, what is the source for recreating the wealth of Italy?
That unforeseeable instant in which a person generates newness, products, services, added value, beauty for herself and for others, an increase of value and wealth that no historical, social or political antecedent can ultimately explain.
Above all in moments of crisis this desire in action is the most powerful factor that gives new birth to certainty, as President Napolitano said at the Meeting of Rimini, “In this time of uncertainty, bring your yearning for certainty.” He went so far as to say that those who accept this challenge are “a human resource for our country.”
Hope is reborn within a people
Only within a people can the reawakened desire and the attempts born of the person stand a chance of enduring. A people is a gathering of persons, not based on provisional self-interest, but in substance. Not against an enemy, but for a desired and pursued good. This is why the destruction of a people – with all its expressive and associative richness – is the antechamber of the killing of desire. In fact, if young people do not see before them a different human experience, how can they perceive that the world can change? How can hope for the future be kindled in them?
The task of politics
Political choices must be in function of those who move in this direction and no longer for the advantage of those who act for alignments of power and promise to change everything in order that nothing change.
This is the example that comes to us from the Pope’s speech to the German Parliament, in which he indicated what must be important for a politician: “a listening heart so that he may govern God’s people, and discern between good and evil.” With this he put into everyone’s hands the criterion for judging the work of those who are engaged in politics.
This explains why people with different ideologies can even meet in politics (as happens in the Parliamentary Intergroup for Subsidiarity, which gathers Parliament members of all alignments and has produced laws like the one making it possible to earmark a portion of one’s tax payments to benefit not-for-profit groups), reviving the tradition by which even the harshest differences have not blocked collaboration in building the common good, especially in the most dramatic moments of our history.
These elements can orient political choices opportunely, as instruments for a change that inevitably comes from below. In fact, the first policy is to support those who build a good for everyone and together seek practical responses to the difficulties and the hopes of a people.
Thus can the development of the country be launched again, betting on the “I” in action – people and communities – and acknowledging the decisive role of education, upon which the future of a people depends. And education does not exclusively concern the young, but everyone.
Here are some instruments that can promote recovery:
• defend life in all of its moments and in all of its aspects;
• invest in a system of instruction and professional formation made of government and private schools, and of universities that compete with each other in teaching and research, valorizing the merit of students and professors at recruitment and in career advancement;
• offer the necessary opportunities to capable and deserving young people so Italy will not become a country for the elderly;
• selectively help firms that invest, create jobs and export, eliminating red tape and stopping assistance determined by favoritism that produce no development;
• form alliances – in the direction of a welfare defined by subsidiarity – with families, who are the bearers of saving, of help to the weakest, of education, and collaborate with the myriad social realities that work for the good of the entire people, according to the principle of subsidiarity;
• defend an environment degraded and destroyed by speculations of all kinds;
• promote fiscal federalism that renews public administration, shifting the burden of paying costs and waste upon those who provoke them, and eliminating the pillaging of favoritism and waste.
The contribution of Catholics to social life is on the level of these concerns, as Cardinal Angelo Scola affirmed, “The life of our people also documents the existence of facts and good works that speak of this supremacy of human freedom over evil when it allows itself to be changed by the grace of Christ. They are reasonable signs that hope, nourished by faith and charity, practiced in our communities, is truly trustworthy” (Milan, Oct. 16, 2011). Cardinal Angelo Bagnaso underlined this fact: “Christians have always been a living presence in history, aware that faith in Christ is a good for the City as well” (Todi, Oct. 17, 2011).
Edited by Communion and Liberation