Traces N.5, May 1999For Reason, Against War
In a recent interview, the Pope asked for the use of reason to stop the tragedy of the war in the Balkans and to avoid further violence: "I renew my appeal, which is dictated not only by faith, but even more by reason. Stop the arms."
But how, in a situation which appears so dark and tangled, can we use reason rightly? Where do we begin?
The starting point has to be experience-because from our experience we can see if something is right or not and if a given action respects the needs of the human heart-otherwise we become ready prey for opinions, easily maneuvered by the powers that be through TV and newspapers. This is happening in these recent days, when we are apparently rich with information, but at a loss for personal criteria by which to judge where we will end up.
Now, experience tells us that no man is an island, but everyone is born to parents who belong to a given history, religious tradition, culture, and education. This is the cause of the diversity between persons and peoples, making it possible also to work together for a common cause (and history, especially European history, is rich in examples).
But if the differences in our backgrounds egoistically affirm freedom as the measure-of-all-things, if, that is, people and peoples consider themselves to be the sole shapers of history, if they do not recognize that they come from something Other or that they belong to a creating power as mysterious as it is real (God, or whatever you want to call it), then they generate only violence and barbarousness, and for the sake of some ulterior aim they even commit massacres. The relationship with the ultimate Mystery of existence is truly the most constructive factor for civilization, and thus for peace.
The Pope appeals to both sides who today are at war with each other, to recognize this Mystery and, consequently, because all men belong to it, to recognize the need to cease a conflict which is creating only further disaster, not hope.
The Pope's position is a fundamental and profoundly reasonable one, and we stand with him. In the meantime, let us work together in an act of solidarity that, by collecting food for the refugees, teaches us to share their destiny and that of all people.