The initiative arose when the Common Mission Project was being drawn up in León and Bizkaia. When Manuela Aguilera, the CC Director was contacted, she proposed that they do it jointly in the same session. It consisted of a Round Table in which almost all members of the executive committee of the Council for Culture took part: Isabel Pincemin (Argentina), Queti Zúñiga (Chile), Daniela Corinaldesi (Italy), Lurdes Figueiral (Portugal) and from Spain, Manuela Aguilera, Ana Velázquez and, as a collaborator to the publication, Pilar Gallego.
TA people from León, Bizkaia, Cantabria, Gipuzkoa-Navarra, together with others from Italy, took part in the meeting. To help us with this conversation, in addition to suggesting that we watch the videos and the document published on the TA website, they provided us with the guide: “Some questions to reflect on, based on the text of The Debilitated Society”.
Manuela Aguilera began the session with an overview of the document, where issues were analysed that included globalisation, the crisis of the neoliberal model, health, care of the environment, education, the influence of the pandemic on the Church ...
The circumstances we are going through with COVID-19 have shaken the world, and this requires that we turn them into opportunities. We knew -she said- when we began to write, that for the charism of the Teresian Association, its mission and its members to be meaningful in the world today, the world has to be meaningful to us. Therefore, we have to make a constant effort to study it, know it, understand it and, above all, love it...
Next, the other members of the Council spoke, giving their analyses and proposals, focusing on the subject each had worked on. Their expositions offered us a clear sighted and committed approach, which we think helps and encourages us to get going and get involved in the task of promoting and bringing about transformation in everyday life, looking at the world with optimism.
They shared with us the perspective from which they wrote the different themes.
- Uncertainty enables us to choose and to act based on love, because change comes from the heart. Uncertainty is part of the human condition, exacerbated for us by the pandemic. What is our stance as believers faced with the uncertainty we are going through? Has our faith allowed us to experience uncertainty differently? We know that the difference lies in the basic trust that there is a LOVE that watches over us, drawing forth our faith and hope.
- It is urgent that we be people who create links. We believe that this world where God has placed us is for us the place of our holiness. Seeing and letting oneself be affected is essential to analysing any cultural reality. We must be citizens who dare to get hurt, to go through suffering and to share powerlessness with those suffering injustice.
- What development model would we like for the future? The culture of care imposes itself, essential on both personal and social levels. We must recognise the right to care and be cared for. There is the experience of solidarity and hence the need for learning: individualism vs. collaboration, consumerism vs. buying what we need, what we see vs. the way we are seeing, statistics vs. real people, our security vs. our vulnerability, that is, our individualism vs. solidarity, organization, cooperation and complementarity. We have to get down to the basics of our day to day life. What am I supporting with my daily actions? How many examples of solidarity we have seen during the pandemic!!
- Building the future in pandemic times. Two important elements: Transformative Resilience, a strategy for facing difficulties and taking a leap forward, and Integral Ecology, a new paradigm, which implies a change in our lifestyle and reference points, as Laudato Si affirms. Lights appear, green shoots ... we have to recognise them, propagate and care for them.
- Environmental crisis. The issue of caring for the environment imposes itself. We must be aware that we do not own the planet. It is essential that our concern goes beyond the personal level: moving from self to we, a plurality that must stretch ever wider. How am I living and what can I learn? How do I relate to nature, when it is now so vulnerable?
- Importance of education in school. This theme is at the root of our charism. We know that Pedro Poveda was very sensitive to this issue from his time in Guadix onwards. What society do we want to build? The school has great cultural value and is the main social equalizer. Today the crisis is seen as an opportunity to improve education and schools. Educating is an act of hope. Education must give meaning to life. Young people lack that deep sense of meaning, but this education is for everyone and throughout life. We are always educators. The TA in a crisis situation has much to say.
Commitment and hope
Following the talks, we had the chance to discuss some issues raised by the participants through the chat facility, in which the importance emerged of opening up, rethinking our way of relating, participating in an organized way, seeking alliances and reaching out. In short, creating alternative communities in accordance with the Gospel.
We ended by thanking everyone for the richness and broad horizons the meeting had evoked. The talks by the Council for Culture members, and the participation of people from different geographical places was very enriching. It was an experience that opened the way for further meetings of this kind.
Finally, when asked “What am I taking away from this meeting?” A “cloud” was built with words expressing how the attendees were reacting: trust, hope, commitment, a job well done, life, care...
Mª Isabel M. Mercado y Alicia Onaindía.