Wisdom for Living Together
The 25th International Meeting for Peace, organized by the Sant’Egidio Community in Rome, takes place in Munich, the economic heart of Germany, at a moment when the world commemorates 10 years since the tragic September 11 events in New York and Washington, in 2001. The theme of the current meeting is Bound to Live Together. By this title, the San’Egido Community, well-known throughout the world as a promoter of peace, reconciliation and cooperation between religions and nations, calls us to affirm, together, that the normal status of relations between nations and religions must be: peaceful living together and not violent conflict, mutual respect and not mutual despise, promoting our own ethnic and religious identity together with those who are different and not against them. This healthy attitude in interethnic and interreligious relations, however, is not a simple option, but it becomes nowadays an imperative, vital attitude. Why is that? Because international relations have reached a critical point, a turning point, which can be understood as global interdependence.
More precisely, this means that the life of each nation is influenced, for better or for worse, by the state of stability or of crisis of other nations. Rapid electronic communication, transfer of technology, of capital and of labour force from one side to another of our planet, have accelerated the phenomenon of global interdependence, which some consider a progress in making profit, while other see it as a threat to their cultural identity and their national economic stability.
Thus, the current financial and economic crisis might become a new source of social, interethnic, interreligious and international conflicts, or, if approached with maximum responsibility, it can be a favorable moment to promote the wisdom of peaceful living together, through new means of communication and cooperation in keeping and developing the sacred gift of human life on our planet (Earth). This also implies a spiritual formation, or a new type of education – a culture of living together, which can be expressed through the words: “Bound to Live Together”. The need to develop such a culture is motivated especially by the current ethnic, religious, cultural and political pluralism of each state, as a consequence of rapid migration of people from one side of the planet to another.
In the same time, inside every country, and in relations between countries, the current economic crisis demands balance, co-responsibility and cooperation in the relation between the economic factor and the political factor. More precisely, new relations between capital markets and political governments are needed, so that freedom is correlated with responsibility, personal interest with social life, and national interest with global interest. If yesterday’s failure of the Communist system in Europe was mostly a consequence of the complete subordination of the economic factor to the political power of the party-state, today’s crisis of excessive liberal capitalism is the result of a contrary phenomenon – the excessive influence of economic factors on political power, as economic factors claim that capital markets can self-regulate without state intervention.
Thus, today’s situation shows us that this area needs new relations of mutually accepted co-responsibility, in order to overcome the current financial-economic crisis and to avoid other potential crises. We are also learning from the current financial-economic crisis that the ethical factor can no longer be ignored in economy and politics. For example, the current crisis is based on an ethical or moral deficit in connection to excessive capital or credit accumulation by people who did not responsibly foresee the dramatic consequences of excessive crediting. As a consequence, the negative impact of the current financial-economic crisis has a devastating impact on the life of millions of people, who become victims of unemployment, cuts of salaries, canceling of already-running projects and victims of poverty. Who is to be held responsible from a moral, legal or political point of view for all these devastating consequences caused by the crisis of excessive liberal capitalism, which is unable to self-adjust? That is hard to answer! In any case, efficient solutions must be found at national and international level in order to overcome the crisis and to avoid major conflicts and live together in peace.
We, the leaders of religious communities, have, through our calling, the mission to present to the society in which we live, the need to promote moral responsibility for the manner in which the vital relationship between personal interest and social life, between economic activity and political power, between personal or group liberty and national or international solidarity is built, in order to defend and promote human dignity in every situation. Why? Because humans, created in the image of God – the Creator of the Universe, has a unique and infinite value and is worth more than every material possession in this world.
The word crisis means in Greek judgment of a confuse or abnormal situation. Thus, the current crisis demands a change in the pattern of thought and action of human communities affected by it. In the context of the current financial-economic crisis, local, national and international decision-makers are pressured by this harsh situation to intensify ethical co-responsibility and practical cooperation in order to find tangible solutions for ending the crisis. Religious communities are also called to cooperate in this matter, through prayer, preaching and charitable social action.
Many people who are in a difficult situation because of the current economic crisis seek in the religious community a source of hope and encouragement. Thus, in many countries, religious communities are already calling their faithful to solidarity with people suffering from the consequences of the crisis, setting up social programs for unemployed persons, people suffering from diseases, children, elder people, immigrants, etc, thus defending the dignity of humans in difficulty.
In Romania, for instance, the Churches are operating in this area mostly through their social assistance institutions and through donations from the faithful, as, during times of crisis, actual deeds of Christians have priority in front of words!
In conclusion, the theme of our meeting: Bound to Live Together urges us to work together for the life of people in difficulty, thus becoming the hands of the love of God, hands which bring hope, courage and joy where all these are missing.
Thus we can hope that if overcoming difficult social situations requires joint efforts of the society, overcoming the current economic crisis can only be done through national and international solidarity.
Patriarch of Romania