Common horizons

Publish date 02-01-2022

by Renato Bonomo

What social project do we now have capable of mobilizing collective energies, of tracing the horizon of a common future? The economist Gaël Giraud writes.

In recent years, the major issues that are most affecting public opinion, not only in Italy, concern issues relating to individual rights: homosexual unions, the referendum on euthanasia, the legalization of soft drugs, the protest of the no-vax who demand a respect for individual freedom against any form of (true or presumed) health dictatorship is a loud voice. Only the great mobilization for the environment seems to be going in a markedly collective direction. It is not our intention to enter into the merits of every single discussion on the subject of individual rights but rather to propose an upstream reflection.

In the West, the affirmation of such rights is a long-term historical trend: we can find its roots in the middle of the modern age during the wars of religion. We then pass through the great trade union achievements of the workers' world between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to get to the present day. In our country, this affirmation had an important acceleration between the end of the sixties and seventies when the effects of industrialization and modernization introduced enormous transformations in Italian society starting with the family, through the introduction of divorce and the legalization of 'abortion.

If the affirmation and expansion of individual rights has been exponential, not so much can be said of the parallel affirmation of duties. Rights and duties are two sides of the same coin. In reality, with respect to rights, duties appear as twin brothers, poor and neglected. Yet, for the very holding of society, an affirmation of rights is unthinkable without a parallel clarification of duties.

Our Constitution writes it well in article 2: "The Republic recognizes and guarantees the inviolable rights of man, both as an individual and in the social formations where his personality takes place, and requires the fulfillment of the mandatory duties of political solidarity, economic and social ". Precisely the reference to the Constitution allows us to take a step forward. Let's take the public debate on the extension of the Green pass in recent weeks: parts of articles of the Constitution are often cited to find support for their theses. Let's see the famous article 32 which mentions that: "No one can be forced to a specific medical treatment." Too often, however, the first part of the article is omitted: "The Republic protects health as a fundamental right of the individual and in the interest of the community, and guarantees free medical care to the indigent."

What we are seeing is a partial use of the Constitution, which intentionally neglects a global interpretation of the text and betrays the spirit of the constituent fathers. It is good to remember that our fundamental charter not only finds its foundation in liberal thought that values ​​the individual and his prerogatives, but was inspired by Catholic and social communist thought which have deliberately emphasized the community and social dimension, albeit with points of different views. All the first 12 articles, which express the fundamental principles, link the theme of individual freedom to that of the social responsibility of our actions. Each of our actions, whether good or bad, produces social consequences and we have a duty to evaluate the effects of our actions on others.

In the first days of September, President Mattarella clearly expressed this point about vaccines: "Freedom should not be invoked to escape vaccination, because that invocation is equivalent to requesting a license to put the health of others at risk and in some cases to endanger the life of others. Those who pretend not to get vaccinated, with the exception of those who cannot do it for health, and to lead a normal life by attending work or leisure places, force everyone else to limit their freedom, to give up their chance to fully recover places and ways and times of life ".

A few days later, Pope Francis expressed his point of view: «Vaccinating, with vaccines authorized by the competent authorities, is an act of love. And helping to get most people vaccinated is an act of love. Love for oneself, love for family and friends, love for all peoples. Love is also social and political, there is social love and political love, it is universal, always overflowing with small gestures of personal charity capable of transforming and improving societies ".

In the spirit of our Constitution, the others, even if we do not know them, even if they are foreigners, are not strangers. There are many of me who, just like me, need esevenings taken into consideration and listened to. Today the new frontier of duty is probably the theme of taking care. The pandemic and the recent economic crises invite us to rethink politics, the economy and society itself by putting the other first, because my happiness always passes from that of others.

Renato Bonomo
NP Focus
October 2021

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