Free to do good

Publish date 08-05-2024

by Cesare Falletti

Every now and then I think I should use a cane to be safer in my daily walk. Then I leave it at home. Do I refuse to grow old or do I want to be freer? Man has always built useful tools to feel and act better. But it doesn't go without saying. Tools can also be scary. My father, who was already over 60 at the time television spread in Italy, never wanted to have her at home. I think he was afraid he wouldn't need to go to the cinema anymore!

Every new thing scares or provokes enthusiasm: it depends on how you look at it. Suspicion about new things is just as harmful as contempt for the past. We often judge what we don't know and superficial information does not allow us to make an objective and serene judgement: but we must remember that it is how the new invention, idea or culture is used that determines its positive or negative value. This applies to all things, even to medicine, which is a sector which in its progress has changed the lives, at least in the countries where it can be taken advantage of, of entire populations, allowing the majority of children to live and the elderly to live less degrading old age. Dynamite was used to build roads, bridges, tunnels and even the roofs of my monastery. But it made the war even crueler than it was before. And so and even more so with atomic energy. Today we live in a climate of research and inventions that make heads spin and that are changing civilization, human relationships, the way of knowing and communicating: with all that this has that is positive, and it is a lot, but also negative. Everything must help man in his growth and humanity in its tendency towards unity (but hopefully not uniformity): for the human person the freedom of how these innovations are used and what we do with them always remains.

Fear or adoration? We cannot live either in the somewhat obtuse rejection of what research and human intelligence place at our service, nor in an uncritical acceptance of increasingly amazing things that are placed before us. Intelligence, sensitivity and true prudence, which are great riches that the Creator has placed in his human creature, cannot and must not be silenced in front of the shine of everything that man can invent or discover. He has given us immense gifts to learn to live better and to help our fellow men, but in us, in addition to many beautiful things, there are also pride, greed, arrogance, and many other feelings that divert our perception of the right things. Pope Francis, speaking about artificial intelligence, also highlighting how much good it can do for humanity, also showed concern about its immoral use, for example to build weapons, which can also be put into crazy hands. We must always remember the thought of God, immutable and always valid, announced by the prophet Isaiah: «He will judge between nation and nation and will be the arbiter between many peoples; and they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; no nation will lift up sword against nation, nor will they learn war again" (Is 2:4).

This prophecy must remain an indication, a map for research and the progress of human research and will never be outdated or rendered useless. It also allows us to look up and see the progress of the world with hope. Even if he leaves us total freedom, God never tires of turning even our miseries to good.

Cesare Falletti
NP March 2024

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