• January 29, 2015

Hatred and empti­ness can never reduce the desire for hap­pi­ness, hope and freedom.

Nicolas Moulin- “Vider Paris” Exhibit (2005)

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

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