Working for peace and reconciliation
“Cómo entender o qué significaría trabajar por la Paz y la Reconciliación”
Angelo Cupini cmf
House on the Well
We are on the brink of the abyss.
The evils with which we are measuring ourselves in this time are apocalyptic: plague, famine, the war for whose liberation Christians prayed with the ancient rogations.
Today the question is: How are we living this time and what issues are we putting into the circuit?
In the war against Ukraine, Europe expressed what was most beautiful in its tradition of humanity: we welcomed; we held up evil by supporting individuals and fleeing families. We recognized that our brother’s flesh is like your own.
A disturbing question: we welcomed fleeing Ukrainians and continue to put up walls for refugees of other cultures and skin colors.
We are moved, rightly so, by those who are assaulted, we become rigid with those who come seeking protection through work and recognition of the rights of humanity.
The knot of migration runs through the entire political and social fabric and naturally opens different outlets according to one’s electoral agenda.
One issue for all: get out of the genericness, learn to recognize the diversity of immigrant populations in the context of their countries of origin, give the faculty of free movement (as happened with the Ukrainians), and free reception from the mask of security that often becomes the lintel of the system, and make us see arrivals as aggressions. Think of a Europe that needs young forces to regenerate new humanity, perhaps a bit more mestizo.
The second element of observation. I start again from the record. In the period August 2021-July 2022, there were, in Italy, 16 homicides of women in family and relational contexts with legally possessed weapons. The number appears small, but it represents 14.8 percent of these homicides and femicides: a relevant and worrying figure if we consider that only 6-8 percent of the Italian adult population has a license to possess weapons. It means that weapons legally held with the motivation of wanting to defend oneself from thieves and robbers are used more often to kill one’s wife, partner, or ex rather than to defend oneself from robberies in one’s own home.
A nearly €1 billion chip to fund the European Union’s defense technology innovation. Europe does not yet have a common army, and by 2025 it will consist of 5,000 people, the Commission is putting a 924 million European Defense Fund (EDA) on the plate for the next six years, until 2027, to advance the armaments of the 27 plus Norway, freeing itself from the supply of other countries and equipping itself with technologically advanced weapons.
The arms problem is overbearing in Europe, for those who attack, for those who defend, and for those who manufacture and trade arms. As the amount of weapons increases disproportionately, the space for speech is shrinking.
We are living this issue in the current war against Ukraine. There is no space and opportunity for speech, only the weapons are not silent.
The question we are gathering is, what is the point of sending more and more powerful weapons to the combatants for them to kill, get killed, and get the civilian population, the real victims of all modern wars, killed?
And we are always on the threshold of using atomic weapons.
It is vital to fight more and more against the arms industry because these have a directing function: to fight a war with more wars.
Polls have told us that the majority of the Italian population is against sending weapons and wants proposals for mediation, for a truce, for agreement, without failing, but rather fulfilling, the duty of solidarity with people we feel are our brothers and sisters.
We struggle to think of a radical, popular alternative that will shake up and reduce aggression.
A third attitude is to read history without ideology, dividing it into good and bad. All Ukrainians are good and Russians bad. Simplifications do not move us forward.
War is a school of cruelty, cynicism, and lies in which we are all wrapped up.
It is vital the task of journalists, often at the risk of their skin, for this function of knowing the fact of reality.
When can wars end?
When can cities that have become specters be rebuilt?
I am thinking of the deportations of children and young people, stolen from their families, to indoctrinate them and who become robots of thought; this desacralization of lives, this violence that makes humans inhuman to realize a principle of adaptation.
On these fronts we have not developed thoughts and practices; questions arise: what future humanity will come out of these events; what compassion will grow in people’s hearts? How to activate paths of reconciliation with the self and other inhabitants, with history and the future?
I have the perception that we have locked ourselves into many statements; we have thoughts of pacifism that do not shake or reduce evil.
We have words and practices that are so symbolic that they do not produce change. We are lagging on all fronts except arms. The history of Ukraine documents this
The Mediterranean in a visionary image by Giorgio La Pira, former mayor of Florence and inventor of the Mediterranean Dialogues, is likened to the function of Lake Tiberias. In a letter to the pope dated May 4, 1958, he wrote to Pope Pius XII thus:
“The Mediterranean, the “Lake Tiberias” of the new universe of nations; the nations that are on the shores of this lake are nations worshippers of the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob; of the true and living God. These nations, with the lake that they surround, constitute the religious and civil axis around which the new Cosmos of nations must gravitate: from East and West one comes here; this is the mysterious Jordan in which the Syrian king (and all the “kings” of the earth) must wash themselves to cleanse themselves of their leprosy.”
In this Europe in which thousands of young women and men are pressing to enter and storm this fortress of rights and economies, there is Pope Francis’ challenge: that of a new holy covenant.
In this covenant, we must meet popular Islam in the vision of the universal brotherhood of Francis and of those in Sunnism (Ahamad al-Tayyib, of Al-Azhar) and Shiism (Al Sistani) who have perceived the need for a humanistic reform of Islam, a return to its origins, equal dialogue with Christianity.
This is the ground on which we are attempting, also as the Community of Via Gaggio to work. We do so because we are urged by the lives of the teenagers who have come to live with us, from Egypt as well as from Arab countries. A dialogue is developed that has no hegemonic intention.
The most significant stages by which the proposal of the Universal Fraternity came to grow were Pope Francis the trip to Egypt in 2017, the Document on Human Brotherhood for World Peace and Common Coexistence (Abu Dhabi, 2019), the encyclical Brothers All (2020) and the trip to Iraq (in 2021).
This is how the Abu Dhabi document indicates the theme of citizenship: “The concept of citizenship is based on the equality of rights and duties under whose shadow all enjoy justice. That is why it is necessary to strive to establish in our societies the concept of full citizenship and to renounce the discriminatory use of the term minorities, which carries with it the seeds of feeling isolated or inferiority; it paves the way for hostilities and discord and takes away the achievements and religious rights of some citizens by discriminating against them.”
This agreement is sustaining many groups and we think it is the calling of human and religious communities.
Angelo Cupini cmf
How to live this time?
I propose an example that comes from heaven from an article in the daily newspaper La Stampa di Torino of August 8, 2022, by Eva Giovannini entitled: As in heaven so on earth.
Let us look up and learn from her, from them, from those two human beings who in the presence of the cosmic void worked side by side for more than seven hours, putting aside the fact that they were Russian, he, Oleg Artemev and European, she, Samantha Cristoforetti. The “spacewalk” we watched in admiration a few days ago – on July 21 – is much more than a huge technological feat. It is the currently most advanced frontier of diplomacy.
Let us reflect for a moment on what is happening there, 400 km above the ground, and in what geopolitical context. While on Earth, Russia invades Ukraine in the bloodiest war of the century, on the International Space Station a crew of three Russians, three Americans, and one European faces the most complicated challenge in thirty years: to coexist, to cohabitate, to cooperate despite everything.
Sure, the Earth war has directly impacted a great many aspects – right down to the announcement that the Russians will withdraw from the ISS in 2024, after 30 years of cooperation between as many as 15 countries. But the group is working.
It returns, also to Europe, the question posed by Cardinal Martini: How can we live in the same territories as different people without killing each other, tolerating each other perhaps, but that is not enough, we have to ferment each other.
To ferment ourselves we must find common spaces and gestures, give space to listen to each other’s words, generate trust in daily life, and dare peace.
Angelo Cupini cmf