“Selfishness does not generate civil ransom. It can delude some people into thinking that they can make it on their own, while others succumb.” It is one of the most significant passages of the opening speech held by the Italian President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, at the 37th edition of the Meeting for Friendship among Peoples. This important meeting has been organized by ‘‘Communion and Liberation’’ in Rimini (Italy), from 19 to 25 August and this year it is titled “Your Presence Is Good for Me.” There will be 106 meetings, 271 speakers, 18 exhibitions, 14 shows, 22 sporting events, and 2,190 volunteers.
The debates are very rich and stimulating, as usually, and a number of personalities from various fields partake in them. It is an encounter between peoples and cultures seen as the key to addressing the challenges and threats of the current era, starting with terrorism and migration flows; youth and employment, social agriculture, demography; experiences of prisons that rehabilitate people; justice and separation of powers in a State. These are some of the main topics on the program, reserving ample room to the figure of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a few days after her canonization planned on 4 September.
Since the very beginning, the organizers of the event have outlined the importance of the topics such as hospitality, openness to the other, immigrants, and other questions. If this aspect, they observed, does not become a “mode of social, civil, and political construction”, Europe is destined to fall apart and lose its identity. The head of the Italian State has pointed out that the “openness and acceptance of different cultures and histories” are still Italy’s foundations, but “new inequalities” are emerging. “Often – he added -, young are the ones who pay the highest price. We must begin building bridges, cohesion, and development paths. We should realize that there is a fate to share.”
In a message signed by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis has indicated exasperated individualism of the people who “close up and consider others a nuisance” as the cause of the weakening “desire” for a peaceful coexistence among peoples.
The watchwords the Pope pointed out are openness, dialogue, and abundant diversity, along with the “clarity of one’s own identity” and “willingness to put oneself in someone’s shoes to understand what stirs their heart, below the surface, and what are they really looking for.”
If poisoned by ignorance and prejudice, in fact, diversity is often seen as deprivation or a personal and collective limitation. Nothing but division, hatred, and racism, or at best, indifference and intolerance can spring from constrained. Dialogue, however, is always the first and most important step in the construction of peace and freedom. When individuals and societies reject communication and refuse to listen to each other, they push humanity towards division, intolerance, and ignorance. Civilization conflicts spread precisely because of the rejection of dialogue, which is crucial to overcoming mutual fears.
Despite the negative elements, there are signs of hope and optimism: people still do good deeds and share with a lot of enthusiasm. This is the only way to never lose strength and desire keep dreaming, desire for truth, love that does not disappoint and justice that does not deceive. Certainly, the Meeting has always tried to create an open environment to encourage dialogue inside the different souls of Christianity, but also in the varied landscape of cultures and faiths, continuing to be an important place where to discuss universal human values.
The many ideas, messages, and appeals expressed these days can acquire actual meaning to the extent to which they are translated into concrete actions in our everyday life, allowing common understanding and, consequently, politics to intervene for the benefit of the entire society.