The thread of trust, however tenuous it may be, constitutes the invisible link in human and interpersonal relationships in general. Even in the pacts of the so-called “social contract” and in economic, political or cultural agreements – it is the “golden thread” of trust that helps to weave bonds, connections and commitments. Every joint action involves a certain amount of trust. It is impossible to think about an organization between human beings, whatever type it may be, without taking care of this social fabric . This gives rise to multiple efforts to recreate, maintain, cultivate and preserve the ever-changing design of this fabric.

For this reason, among others, the theme of the 2024 Fraternity Campaign (CF/24) – Fraternity and social friendship – presupposes the strengthening of that golden thread of trust. But he is also aware of the fact that this invisible but fundamentally important human relationship has suffered years of harsh and unprecedented storms. A true tornado, furious and turbulent, swept away many elementary connections. Close ties, whether personal, family or social, were violently severed from one moment to the next. Trust has been lost even in relationships as intimate as those involving dating, marriage, family, school, religion, friendship, political practice, and so on.

In the case of Brazil, during the Bolsonaro government period, hatred, lies and violence were installed everywhere. A permissive, rampant and rude, disastrous and bizarre language, typical of virtual networks, descended into reality, contaminating streets, squares, fields, families, institutions and instances of society as a whole. Along this path, good practices, good traditions and good references melted away. Numerous religious and cultural values ​​were neutralized. Constant, sometimes daily, threats haunted our homes, chased our heels and erupted against democratic practice at all its levels, but particularly in a vain attempt to break the backbone of the Judiciary and Legislative powers.

More than a few solid points in personal, family, social or political life have suffered continuous and significant seismic shocks. In the line of scholar Zygmunt Bauman, the contemporary world, in its modus vivendi , has become a “liquid society”. Relativism has become an increasingly naturalized reality. When things, people and events become relative, each person’s navel becomes the center of the universe. The “I” installs itself as absolute master. From there to the risk of selfishness and exacerbated individualism, the step is very small. CF/2024 warns precisely of this danger. How can we reverse, for example, authoritarianism, denialism and Nazi-fascism – among other isms – that have dominated in recent years? They are viruses, addictions and worms that have corroded (and continue to corrode) human relationships of all kinds and that can lead to the denial of humanity’s very reason for being.

When focusing on migration, and human mobility in broader terms, the theme of social friendship involves breaking with discrimination, prejudice, xenophobia and other obstacles that migrants and refugees in general are victims of. Pope Francis’ scheme of four verbs – welcome, protect, promote and integrate – requires a new attitude towards the other, the strange and the different. Here it is about overcoming mere multiculturalism with interculturality. In the first case, different people, groups and cultures are juxtaposed, in a more or less peaceful coexistence. However, tolerance towards the presence of those who arrive is not enough. It is necessary to “advance into deeper waters”. The challenge is to overcome, in a qualitative leap, “the globalization of indifference” to give way to “the culture of welcome, encounter, dialogue and solidarity, in the words of Pope Francis.

This brings us to the second case, that of interculturality. The confrontation of the values ​​and countervalues ​​of each cultural vision, with its angels and demons, its social and savage sides, with the toxic poison or sympathy they can distill – only through this dynamic fusion can people and cultures find fertile ground for a true purification and purification. In this confrontation marked by openness to dialogue, between two or more ways of knowing, another possible sphere of relationship may emerge. Then, and only then, will social friendship be able to overcome intransigence, advancing, not without new difficulties, towards a kind of conviviality and commensality where everyone can sit at the table and enjoy the banquet of life, in a universal and borderless homeland. . Fratelli Tutti (all brothers) who, in an equitable manner, responsibly distribute the fruits of “our common home”.

Father Alfredo J. Gonçalves, cs, vice-president of the SPM – São Paulo, 09/18/2023

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