A creative effort

Publish date 15-09-2023

by Renato Bonomo

To understand how far we have come, we need to remember where we started from and the stages that have been taken.
Culture and lifelong learning are themes that Sermig began to reflect on well before the arrival of the Arsenale, but it is precisely at the Arsenale that they found an extraordinarily important place for their diffusion and growth.

An important milestone was the birth of the monthly Progetto in 1978.
In the first editorial (n. 1, 1978, pp. 2-3) we spoke of a new, different, alternative magazine because «behind Progetto there is no economy, but instead “madness”». Not financial potentates, but a "crazy" group who thought it was right to share their "vision of life, their commitment to creating a more just world, their desire to continue to hope and love" with many others.
But what does that idea of a “crazy” culture consist of? «Continue to hope, tell the truth, want to implement justice, be the voice of the weak, ensure that there are no longer rich or miserable people in the world, allow freedom and equality to coexist». Plus, another madness: making a totally free magazine, without advertising, with the sole cultural return of friends who share the same desire for peace. Progetto «has no masters behind it, but only seeks loyal and generous friends who share the same trust in man, the same hope in the future; that they write and distribute the magazine without any other reward than the good conscience of working for a just cause and the joy of sincere friendship."
Since then the strong idea has remained that of anchoring our training in a culture that arises from direct contact with people's lives, which is mixed with their stories.
A culture, attentive to the signs of the times, which has the desire to know and read reality to promote actions of solidarity and goodness that can change the horizon in which we live. Certainly the denunciation of evil, injustice, war and oppression are fundamental, but they are not enough on their own. The "crazy" culture manages to believe in "life that is born new every day" and is capable of "grasping the positive present in our time too". For this reason it cannot be reduced to pure and simple contemplation, but must be rooted in its own time, understand how it unfolds and work to suggest changes in favor of the lives of the poorest, of the young, of those in need.
Culture is always a creative effort that requires a lot of originality and availability, it is a continuous stimulus to do good, to make it public, to motivate people and offer them horizons of hope.
All this is "crazy" in a time like the current one which seems to suggest inactivity and standardization and pushes us to consider personal commitment as totally useless.
Instead, we need to understand that our contribution - minimal but real - can change the reality in which we live, especially if it is capable of allying itself with that of others. Then culture can express and be the meaning of life. As Dom Luciano taught us, who always repeated: «Can I help? Can I serve?".

With this spirit, the Arsenale has become a home not only of solidarity, but also of culture: the doorbell ringing, humanity knocking, the meeting with many good friends have shown us new avenues to explore, such as that of the University of the Dialogue that arises from "doubt".
Believer and non-believer friends have indicated doubt to us as «the way through which we question ourselves about the meaning of life, the desire to "consume the steps of the wise". Doubt is not an end in itself, nor a pretext to escape the rigor of truth, it is not the enemy of certainty: it is the enemy of hateful indifference" (Statute of the University of Dialogue, 2001). Culture thus becomes a method for tackling a problem and transforming it into an opportunity.
Especially when we talk about young people and with young people.

But how is it done? The answer lies in the mentality that trains itself to find the good and the beautiful to offer a new look at the world and generate consequences of thought and commitment for the social and civil fabric in which we are inserted. A "crazy" effort that never ends and is renewed because the problems always take on new connotations. In this "madness" we never felt alone; it is our duty to thank all the witnesses and teachers we have met in our lives. With some of them, like Giorgio Ceragioli, we have always felt the intimate need to feel like students, who have learned to keep an open eye and a mentality available to listen to those who seemed to have important reasons to show us.
«But are these really madness or are they not rather values that we no longer want to believe in?».

Renato Bonomo
SPECIAL: An Arsenal that speaks
NP June / July 2023

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