Vinu Aram, director of the Shanti Ashram, visited the International Centre of the Focolare Movement (Rocca di Papa, Rome). It was a chance to reflect on the precious inheritance she received from meeting Chiara Lubich: to live in unity for a better world; a special occasion to wish a joyful Christmas to all those who prepare to live this feast.

“I think our journey continues to have great significance. Just think of the first seeds, the work we have done together and our constant desire for a peaceful world. Where are we? Think of a family in which everyone has their own characteristic but where there is also cohesion. We trust each other, with respect and with much love”.

These are words of fraternity spoken by Viru Aram, Indian and Hindu, director of the Shanti Ashram International Centre, a long-time friend and collaborator of the Focolare Movement. Her recent visit on 23rd November 2022, to see Margaret Karram, President of Focolare, at the International Centre of the Movement in Rocca di Papa (Italy), was an opportunity to strengthen this bond, reflect together on some issues that afflict this time and discuss common paths to make the world a better place.

Vinu, what do you think the world really needs today?

I think it needs real, honest listening. Today what is required of us is compassion and the humanization of our lived experience. We have done a lot, in some cases well, but sometimes the cost was high. We are in the middle of what has been called a confluence of crises and the COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated everything. The virus did not discriminate but in an unequal world it prospered. I believe that it is necessary to act strengthened by everything we have done that is good, but also informed about what we can do better: respect for the environment, for human life and its sacredness. The way we live, the way we govern and share resources comes with a responsibility towards our children. They are our present and our tomorrow. It is necessary to do things not only differently, but with everyone’s interests in mind.

Today there are many countries and regions of the world affected by violence and conflicts, some of them forgotten. As a teacher, what message do you give your children?

I try to foster a mindset of peace in them, so that not only nations and communities can work for peace, but entire peoples. Peace is the fundamental foundation on which prosperity advances. But if you look at the world, the indicators of violence exceed those of peaceful life. Whether it is the social sphere, whether it is the economic sphere or something else. And every conflict in the whole world takes away the essential dignity of human life. What is needed are peace narratives. People have to believe it’s possible. We need experiences which enable young people and children to say: “Ah, if this works, we can do it too”. We need the right structures, sincere sharing and dialogue of the highest quality, that really lead to transformation. Then, as Mahatma Gandhi often said, in a gentle way, we can shake the world.

Maria Grazia Berretta

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