On January 1, the Catholic Church celebrates World Day of Peace. Interestingly, in this year’s message, the Pope linked the concept of peace with a virtue that is necessary to reach this ideal world – that of care, meaning the ability to open one’s eyes and to listen to all those who need help. We need to create an environment of fraternity and solidarity between all members within society. This ideal world contrasts sharply with racist tendencies and the various forms of nationalism which have surged within the last years.
Pope Francis chooses to anchor this message against moments from the biblical story where God’s want to protect society was evident. Throughout the Old Testament, God wanted the community to protect the poor and the most vulnerable and powerless. The need to take care of each other can also be seen in the person of Jesus Christ who, as the Good Shepherd and the Good Samaritan, does his best to look after his whole flock and stops with all those who are most in need.
As citizens of this world, we too must work to show solidarity with the poor and vulnerable and to protect nature and the common good. These are the most basic and necessary steps we need to take to create an environment of peace.
What can we do, in the local sphere, to create this culture of care? As the sums raised in support of the various charity campaigns show, the Maltese are already on the right track. No one can deny that we are a generous nation and that we are always ready to help those who need our help. However, in order to construct this ideal culture of fraternity and solidarity which the Pope discusses, we need to stamp out spite and envy from our midst. We need also to understand that a just society is not built by excluding those who cannot contribute to society. On the contrary, a just society must build a culture of peace by, first and foremost, eliminating the problem of exclusion and caring for the marginalized and vulnerable.
We must also take care of nature and the environment as the main resource from which we must all live. This implies that we all have a responsibility to put aside selfish tendencies to ensure that everyone has access to the necessary resources. Since human dignity does not depend on the social status or money one has, but on the fact that we are all born as a human being, everyone should have an equal right to enjoy the resources of the world.
Whilst celebrating the World Day of Peace, let us remind ourselves that we all have a duty to create an environment in which everyone takes care of each other. An environment which replaces squabbles with friendly relationships and an environment which encourages solidarity. We need to pressure the authorities to not spend money and resources on laws which benefit the few but on others which benefit the education system and inclusion in society. When we truly believe that we all have the same basic needs and we learn to care more for each other, peace will reign on earth.