Reflecting on the terrorist attacks in Paris, professor Silvio Guerra, friend of Heart’s Home and member of Communion and Liberation, poses the question of freedom and challenges us to a personal answer to the tragic event.
"Wednesday, January 7, the day of the attack on Charlie Hebdo, was also the first day of the end-of-season sales. In Paris, this means the presence of a colossal crowd in the central districts.
I came out of the subway in one of these neighborhoods and perceived the emptiness being materialized. There was almost nobody in the streets, no noise, no cars. Where the frenzy of shopping had ruled a few hour earlier, fear was now physically palpable.
“Emptiness” is the first feeling that best describes what one feels about what happened. A massacre was perpetrated in the name of whomever or whatever, and it created a human void.
It is said that the killers are “barbarians.” But the real barbarians were attracted by the Roman civilization with its beauty. The so-called barbarians today are attracted by the void: “they want to evacuate.” It is a war declared against civilization.
The emotion triggered by what happened revived a desire for humanity, a desire to “belong”, that is to say, a desire not to stay alone facing such a tragedy. But can we respond to void with void? This void that is outside of us, is it not perhaps, already in us?
The night before the tragic attack, we read a text by Father Carrón, saying: “Christmas invites us to a conversion in our way of understanding where salvation comes from, that is to say, understanding the solution to the problems of our daily lives. It poses each of us a big question: where do we expect our salvation from?”
What, or who can save us from such a dramatic situation? What does it mean to expect salvation in the event of such tragedies? Arresting the criminals? Justice? Freedom of expression? All of this is true, but it is not enough. Paradoxically, in the face of such pain, distress and fear, I see the meaning of Christmas accomplished in me today: God never leaves us alone in our trials.
I do not know to what extent my fate is linked to the madness of this void. But in these dramatic hours, I welcome the urgency of not living “on credit.” The evidence that the birth of Christ is the only fact which gives consistency to my own self, becomes even more acute and therefore paradoxical. I need to look at reality the same way He has looked at me from the first day. All the hatred and emptiness that evil spreads can never reduce this desire for happiness, hope and freedom.
I am a teacher, and I have repeatedly told my students since the attack, “Look, if we do not want to also participate in this barbarism, the only possibility is to love what we have to do: studying, teaching; and to look at our friends and our teachers as a gift, as good for you. So that through this gaze of love, we can build a new civilization: accomplishing the true revolution of our own selves.”
Article in French Traces magazine: Silvio Guerra - January 2015