Thursday, September 4, 2008

An urgent question for today

With a deep diaconal bow to Suzanne over at come to see, here is the Holy Father's message to The Fraternity of Communion & Liberation for the annual Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples, known as The Meeting. Here is a part of His Holiness' message regarding the theme of this year's Meeting- Protagonists or Nobodies. Toward the beginning of his message, he asks,

"What does being a protagonist of one's own life and of that of the world actually mean?

"The question has become urgent today because the alternative to protagonism seems all too often to be a life without meaning, the grey anonymity of so many 'nobodies' who get lost in the folds of an amorphous mass and unfortunately unable to emerge with a noteworthy face of their own.

"Then the question should be more focused and could perhaps be rephrased: what does a face give a human being, what makes a person unmistakable and guarantees his/her existence full dignity?
"The society and culture in which we are immersed and of which the media are a powerful sound box are largely dominated by the conviction that fame is an essential component of personal fulfillment. To emerge from anonymity, to succeed in imposing oneself on public attention with every possible means and pretext is the goal pursued by many.

"Political or financial power, prestige acquired in one's profession, a display of wealth, the renown of one's own achievements, even the ostentation of one's own excesses... all this is quietly taken to be 'success' and a 'triumph' in life. That is why the new generations aspire increasingly to idealized professions and careers precisely because they bring them into the limelight, which enables them to 'appear,' to feel that they are 'somebody.' The ideal for which they strive is represented by cinema actors, the mythical celebrities of television and of the entertainment world, by athletes, soccer players, etc.

"But what happens to those who have no access to this level of social visibility? What happens to those who are forgotten, if not actually crushed by the dynamics of worldly success on which the society they live in is based? What happens to those who are poor, defenseless, sick, elderly or disabled, those who have no talents to forge ahead among others or no means to cultivate them, who have no voice to make their own ideas and convictions heard? How should one perceive those who lead a hidden life, of no apparent importance to newspapers and television?

"Contemporary men and women, like all people down the ages, strive for their own happiness and pursue it wherever they think they can find it. Here then is the real question the word 'protagonism' conceals, which this year's Meeting proposes for our reflection: In what does happiness consist? What can truly help people to achieve it?"

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