The meeting at the Loano Pre Meeting

The challenge of the instant

A dialogue between Julián Carrón and philosopher Costantino Esposito at the Loan Pre Meeting on Carrón’s latest book, "Is There Hope?".
Bernardo Cedone

"Is there hope?" was the central question of the dialogue between Julián Carrón, president of the Fraternity of CL, and Costantino Esposito, philosopher and professor at the University of Bari, on the third day of the Loano Pre Meeting.

To respond, the two speakers began their discussion from a distinctive fact of our times: nihilism. Not a philosophical dissertation on the subject, but of an attitude of everyday life. What does it consist of? Carrón described it through the last words of Qualcuno era comunista [Someone who was a communist] by Giorgio Gaber: nihilism is daily life transformed into squalor, lived reluctantly, like a seagull who has "no intention of flying of anymore". Esposito recalled St. Augustine, who speaks of man as a being who from birth is aware of his race towards death. That is, nihilism as an experience of suffering – deaf or proclaimed – given by the distinct feeling that nothing will stand the test of time and that everything – including the self – will end up disappearing into nothingness. Is there an answer to this pervasive nothingness that characterizes our days? That is, is there hope?

This question, which not everyone asks themselves, "is a cultural earthquake," said Esposito. "In fact, it is not a symptom of uncertainty or weakness but, on the contrary, it is a sign that the search has begun because something has alluded to a possible answer."

The meeting became a fast-paced, close dialogue, in which nothing was predefined and the two guests addressed the question: is life worth living? The only alternative to a negative answer is for man to feel called, wanted, seized from nothingness. "A vocation – a very secular word – is needed so that I can be myself," Esposito said. Carrón added: "You becomes aware of yourself only in the moment you are called. Man is a mystery to whom Someone turns. Our entire consistency lies in responding to this call." The answer to nihilism, therefore, lies in the awareness that man has of himself; that if he exists, it is because he is called to be there by Someone who wants him now. "That each of us exist today, here and now, is the least obvious thing," Carrón continued. "The matter then is to give space to the One who makes this possible today, here and now."

For Carrón, it is precisely the precariousness of life that often frightens us – our own ephemerality and that of our loved ones – that is the clear proof that we are not at the mercy of nothingness, but in the arms of the One who gives us this moment. But is it possible to look at oneself and at things with this transparency?

Yes, but not through intense speculative reflection. We need a historical event, in the history of humanity as well as in that of each of us, in order to open our eyes: the encounter with "someone familiar with the depths of things," said Carrón. What is needed is the impact and friendship – this is the key word – with someone who offers us a truer and more total gaze towards reality and ourselves, exactly as happened to the disciples with Jesus: that man gave depth to the flowers in the field and even the hairs on our head, not nihilism!

Read also - "Never alone, in every corner of life"

At the end, to summarize the dynamic that generates this gaze that is capable of challenging nihilism, Carrón chose the words of another Italian singer, Francesco Guccini: "I am not, when you are not there." The only answer to nihilism is precisely this: to encounter someone in front of whom we can exclaim these words. To whom, today, can we say this?