The disarmament of goodness

Publish date 01-08-2021

by Guido Morganti

From the bottom: two simple substantive words that have always gone hand in hand with the history of the Sermig. Two words that it seems appropriate to recall in these pages of NP Focus that have diplomacy as their file rouge, that is , the art of negotiating international affairs on behalf of the State (Treccani). From below it can mean that this "art of dealing" does not refer to "us first and then the others", to wanting to impose one's own interests by force and violence (perhaps masking them as a good work, for example the desire to transport democracy ), to consider others not as their own brothers ... But it can also say that relations with other States and peoples will be enriched by the support and participation of citizens open to the world, sensitive to justice, capable of having an attentive look at events that surround them. In short, they give strength to "ours" of the prayer that we address to the Father.
Sermig has always mixed with that "from below". History testifies to this and it is not the case here to make an index of the examples, to project a film with all the frames. I limit myself to a few.

We are in the mid-sixties. By now it was clear, the Second Vatican Council had emphasized the people of God and the importance of the laity (here is a "from below"!). Two young spouses, Ernesto and Maria Olivero, together with some friends give life to Sermig - Youth Missionary Service - with the aim of realizing a dream, eliminating hunger in the world.
A dream that in these almost sixty years "continues to be - as Ernesto points out - the commitment of every day. Hunger for fraternity, food, peace, care, education, home, family, work, prayer, relationships. Then came the Arsenal of Peace which believes in goodness that disarms hearts, the opposite of all violence. It has made its way, it has taken root in Brazil, in Jordan, in hundreds, thousands of humanitarian projects in the four corners of the planet. Suddenly we were, and are, in the shop window. Anyone who knocks on our door must be able to meet transparent and motivated people, both in accounts and in life. We follow the path of restitution by putting ourselves in the game to give life, giving back time, skills, work, dreams and desires ».

The direction of action was already very precise at that time: to put oneself at the service of the missionaries and help them, since in them the mandates to evangelize and promote the man where the poorest in the world live, in the so-called Third World, people who "from low earth "scream their situation that becomes a request to listen, to notice their misery and see it, to pay attention, to relate, to understand the causes that cause the injustices to which they are subjected, for intervention that cannot be postponed concrete responses, of involvement so that they can actively participate in development projects and in turn become a protagonist by triggering multiplier processes.
Points that characterize a commitment that has always been constant in these almost 60 years and that has embraced all the far and near third worlds.
As you know, because already witnessed on these pages, not even Covid has slowed down the life of the Arsenals and of all the projects and activities animated by Sermig.

We could not remain indifferent in the face of the scandal of misery. Among the causes that provoked it, especially in Africa, also the wars after decolonization fueled by arms traffickers and by the desire for power and exploitation by states and revolutionary groups. Absurd waste in armaments and wars hinder resources for development and cooperation. Peace becomes an obsession. The meeting between Ernesto and La Pira leads Sermig to grasp as a mandate the prophecy of Isaiah of a time now without weapons. The Arsenals will be born. But "not peace only as the absence of war, but peace as the defense of life, justice, the hypothesis of a world community where there is bread, home, education, medicine and care for all, instead of increasingly sophisticated weapons, of violence always most common. Disarmament, material and moral, becomes the foundation for the realization of justice. You want that
peace is part of every personal and community action, because we realize that peace, like war, depends on each one of us and that everyone is personally responsible for it " (Active struggle and contemplation). In other words: keeping alive the hope that only one world can be built in peace, and building it with peace, becomes a personal and community lifestyle. Peace yes and I'll start.

A page of the Sermig rule and the chorus of the song Glory from the bottom of the earth make it clear how fundamental it was for Sermig to develop that initial intuition of relating to the "losers of the earth" in order to walk together towards a conquest of dignity and life.
"Sermig was born in 1968, an era of great dreams and violent protests. We immediately believed it possible to walk with anyone who had the true desire for a more just world. The Sermig rule has its roots in those years and in the lives of boys and girls who, growing up and staying together, found the meaning of life in Jesus: they recognized themselves in his commandment of love and inspired all the choices of their life, becoming a Fraternity that has not ceased to have its heart open to the world.
The rule was born from the bottom of life, from the bottom of real life, the one that perhaps we did not know much before: from welcoming the excluded, from listening to the desperate, from helping the stranger not to feel a stranger in our land, from ' to offer a hand and dignity to a prisoner " (The joy of answering yes).
This continuous kneading made it possible to create important relationships and made it possible for many "losers of the earth" to become protagonists of their own conquest of dignity and of supporting others in their turn. A lively and meaningful experience. So much so that the musical work dedicated to St. John Paul II bears the title From the bottom of the earth and the protagonists of songs are men and women who are emerging from difficult situations and are walking, even if with difficulty, towards a "resurrection ". The song of the Gloria is the parable of their life: "from the darkest depths of our human experience, the glory of God works with his grace and man is reborn, transformed, changes".
And here is the text:
Glory from below of the Earth,
Glory from the most infamous of exterminations.
Glory in the famine,
Glory in the worst war.
Glory, glory, glory,
only you have the strength with your glory
to dry the tears, to bring in your glory
in the heights of heaven the vanquished of the earth,
the losers of the earth…

Guido Morganti
NP April 2021

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