Being consistent with the choices involved in living in accordance with the Gospel requires determination. Stories from a recently published book of Gospel experiences of ordinary people from around the world*.
“I’m an hydraulic engineer from southern Italy, and for many years I’ve been in charge of a water purification plant. In the late 1990’s I began working for a multinational company that was handling the management of fifty treatment plants throughout the southern region. Shortly after I began the job, I realized that I was probably the only one who had been hired based on my studies and credentials and not on reccomendations.
Nevertheless, we began the job with a lot of commitment and, contrary to what had occurred during previous years, after thirty or forty days of probation the treatment plants began to work beautifully. It was a worrisome sign, because it clearly showed that before it had not been any technical glitches to render the plants inactive, but rather opposing economic interests.
Everywhere, I realized, strict management of public water, public health, the future of our children, the well-being of a city were all of secondary importance with respect to profit and private interests. I was even explicitly asked to forget the first in order to serve the latter. In order to make a profit in one of the municipalities, sewage was dumped into the stream that flowed into a neighbouring waterway that after a few kilometres flowed directly into the sea. Now, at a distance of ten years from these events the first arrests have been made.
All of this was at odds with my principles. With my wife and many friends I was trying to live the Gospel in all the circumstances of life. My conscience and my ideals were calling me to go against these practices even at the cost of personal sacrifice. I resigned. For a long time it wasn’t easy. However there were also positive experiences while I was involoved in the management of the water treatment plants. One of these was with a community cooperative on the southern coast. There were three of us: me, the engineer; an electrician and a worker with a drug problem. Thanks to this job opportunity he was able to re-enter the work force. The results were so extraordinary that the lab technician told us that it was impossible to have water so pure. Certainly it had been tampered with!
Currently I run a municipal sewage treatment plant and other small private companies. The same lab technician who did not believe in our so pure water, today brings students – future lab technicians – to visit the facilities that we have under management.
The price of being consistent is high. My family’s financial situation is always precarious, making it through to the end of the month is always a major effort. But in order to leave space for God to act, you need to believe in His love even if it means making choices that go against the tide.
This morning I went for a walk along the beach. Standing in front of the sea and seeing the reflections of sunlight on the water, I felt God’s presence reassuring me.”
*From Una Buona notizia. Gente che crede gente che muove (Rome: Città Nuova Editrice, 2012).