The reasons for peace
Publish date 19-04-2023
Traces of prophecy
At the beginning of this very particular 2023, talking about peace is even more important. We are living in a time in which peace appears to be a dream, an ideal, a commitment that almost seems to clash with a world increasingly at war. And yet, we must not get tired. Let us listen to the words of the prophet Isaiah who announces a time when weapons will no longer be built. He doesn't just speak of a future time, but of a present that each of us can already live and build. We have tried to look for traces of prophecy even in the most difficult realities.
Let's try to retrace together some testimonies and suggestions that emerged during the fasting dinner and the subsequent peace march, lived together at the Piccola Casa della Divina Provvidenza in Cottolengo.
Life after the war
When the victims of war are the weakest
Waiting for us in the main square there are several people waiting for food.
"The Russians have only relinquished control of the area a few days ago," says one of the boys.
«They emptied the houses of everything that was inside» another lady a little further on.
"Are you Italian?"
"And you came all the way here? Thank you, God sees everything and blesses you for what you are doing!» an obviously moved old woman yells after us
The chain of love that starts from the courtyard of the Arsenale in Turin and crosses half of Europe is moving.
We open the doors of the vans and begin to open the boxes and prepare the shopping parcels.
A little milk, pasta, rice, sugar, canned goods, sweets, candies. More or less 10 kg per family.
A composed and in some ways endless line is created.
I open a box and find a lot of Italian chocolate.
I turn around, two little girls hug their mother's leg with all the strength they have, almost as if to stand up.
I approach and the older girl looks me straight in the eye.
From under my jacket I take out two bars of chocolate. Her eyes light up and the sound of her amazed breathing is a sound that will be hard to forget.
An elderly lady who witnessed the whole scene, smiling and ironically, said to me: «And nothing for me?».
We all start laughing and I give her a piece of chocolate too who, like a child, cradles her in her arms.
[From the diary of Marco Maccarelli (Sermig) in Ukraine]
Pilgrim of peace and forgiveness
The intervention of Christian Carlassare, a Comboni missionary, the youngest bishop in the world
Before my wounding (which took place in April 2021, ed), I hoped that my arrival in the diocese of Rumbek, in South Sudan, would be an opportunity for peace and reconciliation. In any case, I think it was a sign of the serious situation in Sudan. Unfortunately the history of Sudan is common to that of many countries in Africa, of many forgotten wars. The causes of the conflict are always the same: the exploitation of resources, the search for power within the various ethnic and political groups, the quarrels between family groups. And while there is a shortage of food, there is no shortage of weapons, and so war impedes what could lead to development.
In this context, I think that the only source of reconciliation is forgiveness that starts from dialogue, from listening to the other, from acknowledging that we are all missing. As a Church we too lean in this difficult time on the prophecy of Isaiah: "There will be a time when weapons will be transformed into tools of work". I hope so, because I see hope in the eyes of these young people, who suffer from a very high literacy rate, I see it in the eyes of so many mothers who have lost their husbands in the war but who continue to raise their children, I see it in the eyes of a people that continues to rise again day after day, and I see it above all in the presence of the Spirit of God, the only certainty that never abandons us.
We men can try to help each other to forgive, but the only one who can give it to us is the Lord. Knowing that it can never be the decision of a moment, but it is a journey to be managed step by step, in a life that becomes forgiveness.
A Sudanese mother who lost two children in the war was asked «But if you were to meet the person who killed your children, what would you do?», She replied: «I wouldn't kill him. Already too much blood has been shed, I can't shed any more too. What happened happened, we must look forward and all be more human".
Testimonies from the courtyard
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the Arsenal of Peace has seen a river of generosity flow: familiar faces, but also many people who have looked out the front door for the first time. In all, the desire to contribute personally to building a piece of peace. Institutions, parishes, associations, schools, companies and individuals have organized collections of basic necessities and brought them to us. They were joined by thousands of people who came every day to select, box, stack and load onto trucks. «During the summer we were about 300 volunteers every day, with peaks of 500 at the weekend» say the Sermig managers who were in charge of managing the work in the courtyard. The volunteers shared the tasks and each one had a role of his own. «One of the things that amazes the most is the constancy with which the volunteers return. They arrive and feel at home".
With the eyes of tomorrow
If this was the year of the war, we must concentrate our efforts so that 2023 is the year of the end of hostilities, of the silence of the weapons, of the stopping of this inhuman trail of blood, of deaths, of suffering.
Peace is a founding part of European identity and, since the beginning of the conflict, Europe has been looking for openings to achieve it in justice and freedom.
The hope for peace is also founded on the rejection of a vision that makes history go back, of an obscurantism out of time and out of reason. It is above all based on the strength of freedom. On the will to affirm the civilization of rights.
Something that is rooted in the hearts of women and men. Even stronger in the new generations.
The young women of Iran testify to this with their courage. Afghan women fighting for their freedom. Those Russian boys who defy repression to say no to war.
I know well how many Italians face these months with great worries. Inflation, energy costs, the difficulties of many families and businesses, the increase in poverty and need.
A look at the horizon is needed, a vision of the future.
Let's think of the new technologies, the extraordinary results of scientific research, medicine, the new frontiers of space, underwater exploration. Scenarios unthinkable until a few years ago and now before us.
Global challenges, always.
Because it is modernity, with its continuous change, that is global.
And it is in this scenario, largely unprecedented, that we measure the value and relevance of our strategic choices: Europe, the Western choice, our alliances. Our primary responsibility in the area we define as the enlarged Mediterranean. Our privileged relationship with Africa.
We must stay in our time, not in the past, with intelligence and passion.
To do this we need to change the way we interpret reality. We must learn to read the present with the eyes of tomorrow.
The challenge is to plan tomorrow with courage.
Let's look to tomorrow with a new look. Let's look to tomorrow with the eyes of young people. We look at their faces, we collect their hopes. Let's make them ours.
Let's ensure that the future of the younger generations is not only what remains of the present but is the result of an exercise of conscience on our part. Escaping the claim to choose for them, to condition their path.
The Republic thrives on everyone's participation.
This is the meaning of the freedom guaranteed by our democracy.
This is above all the reason why we have faith.
[Sergio Mattarella, 31 December 2022]
A new year with young people
Let us stop for a moment in front of the history of humanity. Let us ask ourselves a question: what are the weapons used for? To kill, to create a desire for revenge, to build other weapons to fuel thousands and thousands of wars... Beyond the contingencies and complexity of the present, we must have the courage to say: "No more weapons!". But the change must start first of all from a personal reconversion. At all levels.
We ask each of us, but also the world of politics, economics and culture. Let's start again from peace, today more than ever a choice. Yes, a choice of the heart and intelligence.
If young people say yes to peace, then there truly will be a new era.
And I am convinced that many young people today have an appointment with peace.
The new year is coming and it already smells old. But I dream of a handful of young people who convert to Yes they become indomitable against evil who know how to fight nonviolently so that peace can dwell among us. New young people for a whole new year.
#I believe in peace…
The answers of the boys during the march
#because peace never stands still, it moves and makes me move.
#because goodness is disarming! And peace convinced me to live unarmed.
#because it's a deep need of every heart.
#because peace builds and does not destroy.
#because it's hope that makes me live and see reality with new eyes.
#because believing it is the first step towards reaching it and building it.
#because love generates love, and in love you can't feel bad.
#because it's the only possible solution so that there is still a future.
# because the other is never an enemy, he is a man like me, with his joys and pains and he is entitled to my respect.
By the editors
NP January 2023