The Debilitated Society is the title of a publication of the TA Council for Culture, providing reflections and analyses of the situation that humanity is going through as a result of COVID-19. In this virtual meeting the authors presented a summary of their contributions and it was also possible to converse, debate in groups and share some conclusions.
After a warm welcome from Portugal, a short time of prayer began the day, prepared by those from Belgium. It helped set the session in the context of the needs and cries of humanity today, and of our response as believers, based on the compassionate and merciful God of Jesus.
A video with beautiful images of Portugal from north to south made up for the customary in-person cultural visit, no longer possible at this time.
The director of the Council for Culture, Manuela Aguilera, began with a general introduction, highlighting the significance of this joint work of the Council’s Executive Commission, people from different countries and professions, joined by two collaborators, Pilar Gallego and Consuelo Vélez.
Following the order of the book, the next speaker, from Argentina, was Isabel Pincemin, who focused on the levels of uncertainty and possible cognitive biases in which people had to address situations in this time of pandemic.
Under the title "Society in front of the Mirror", Manuela Aguilera then went through the different issues that she addressed in various chapters of this work, encompassing globalisation, the questioning of democracies, the increase in fake news and misinformation, the problems of the most vulnerable groups including young people, women, migrants ... She cited the parable of the Good Samaritan, and the verbal sequence the story presents, as a guide to action and, as believers, to combatting the effects of this pandemic at this time of helplessness that humanity is going through.
From Chile, Queti Zúñiga briefly reviewed the crisis of the neoliberal model, and suggested possible ways to build a society which puts the common good at its centre. She alluded to the recent Synod of Amazonia and its small achievements which open up paths of hope.
Daniela Corinaldesi, from Italy, presented the two main topics of her study: transformative resilience and integral ecology. Resilience as an attitude and as a value has a deep root in belief, like the approaches to integral ecology. They bring lights that were well reflected in Pope Francis’ two recent encyclicals: Laudato Si ’and Fratelli Tutti.
Ana Mª Velázquez Zambrano emphasized how important it is to care for the environment from a perspective that sees the inequalities between persons, peoples and continents. If the pandemic has shown that we are all living through the same storm, it is also true that not everyone is facing the storm from the same boat, from equal resources.
Lurdes Figueiral presented the impact of the pandemic on education. Worrying aspects, such as how inequalities increased, are mixed in with how the social and cultural value of the school was rediscovered.
Along the same lines, responding to a question in the time that followed, Pilar Gallego pointed out, among other things, that educational aims must focus on meaning, not on tools, as seems to be the temptation in the face of prolonged distance learning.
In the afternoon, through language breakout rooms, there was a time for conversation in smaller groups which then fed back their reflections to the main gathering. Participants were also given an opportunity to dialogue with the authors.
The effort to provide simultaneous translation during the entire day was much applauded and appreciated.
From France, Toña Somoano, the E7 sector director and organizer of the event, and Fátima Ferreira, representing the ACIT group from Portugal, closed the session, after some moments of thanksgiving, beautifully prepared by Portugal.
This meeting was convened following the pattern of the annual meetings organised for years between members and friends from Germany, Belgium, France, Ireland, England, Luxembourg and Portugal, each time coordinated by one of the countries. This year’s meeting was opened to people from Italy and Spain.
TA Translators Team.