Spes against spem

Publish date 01-12-2021

by Renato Bonomo

A little over seventy years have passed since the start of the Cold War but it seems centuries have passed. Above all the mentality has changed, the ideologies that had forced men to divide into two large blocs have fallen.
Each side saw the other as absolute evil and did not conceive of any kind of dialogue or compromise.
It was a clash that could not be said to have been resolved except with the definitive defeat of the enemy.

In a world so divided it was a prophet who did not accept division, who committed himself to peace, who was not satisfied with supporting one part but wanted to work for everyone. This is the case of Giorgio La Pira.
La Pira's commitment to peace has very distant origins. Since August 1939, on the eve of the Second World War, on the occasion of the historic pact of mutual non-aggression between Nazism and Soviet communism, La Pira was struck by the affirmations of Pius IX: "Nothing is lost with peace, everything it can be with war ». The Pope had been right and the outbreak of the war had shown in La Pira that the leaders of men are more often wolves than shepherds.

After the terrible experience of the Second World War, starting from the Epiphany of 1951, La Pira decided to devote himself totally to peace. Since the whole of human history demonstrated the disproportion of that commitment, he chose as his motto: spes contra spem. His commitment was translated into an indefatigable work of dialogue and mediation, in letters to the great of the earth, in the organization of great conferences for peace.
As mayor then, despite the many criticisms for a commitment that many wanted confined only to the local dimension, he gave life to actions never previously implemented such as the famous trip to Hanoi in November 1965, in the early years of the Vietnam War. That trip was initially considered a failure, but the peace negotiations of 1973 took up the diplomatic and negotiating scheme of the La Pira initiative.

La Pira has always considered the world to be his home, even as a mayor he has never favored the local dimension over the global one. For him, men and women are truly all brothers and sisters, humanity is one big family. It is a very topical lesson that Sermig has tried to make his own in his history. Around the mid-seventies we wanted to help the Vietnamese of the North and South through the mediation of a Waldensian pastor, Tullio Vinay.
Then when the war ended, between 1979 and 1980, the commitment became to help the "boat people", the Vietnamese refugees. Also in this way, we understood that there are no enemies but only brothers, children of one God.

Renato Bonomo
NP August / September 2021

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