Work and the rediscovery of a social awareness

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“In the name of God who created them, human beings must be aware of their sociality, of their social nature, otherwise they are not completely human. In fact, another of their characteristics, according to the Bible, besides communion with God, besides being required to support themselves and dedicate themselves to work, is sociality – the interweaving of human relationships. We know what sociality means for God.

It means to love others as ourselves. As ourselves, not less. Indeed, to love them with a love which, since it comes from more than one person, becomes reciprocal; and, because it is inspired by Christ, generates unity. Herein lies the meaning of what we stressed, namely that we walk through life together being one heart and one soul. Our collective spirituality, derived from the Gospel, not only can contribute to, but can be of vital importance in finding solutions to the present problems of the working world. In this spirituality, every person in the working world (from the owner to the administrator, from the director to the technicians, from office workers to laborers) in order to build solidarity with others, must love everyone in such a way that he or she becomes “one” with the others. In this spirituality, mutual love leads to reciprocal understanding, to sharing the fatigue of the others, to making our own the problems of the others and to seeking solutions together. It leads us to find common agreements for new forms of organizations in the working world. All come to share and participate together in the means of production, and in the fruits and profits.

With what consequences? If, previously, for example, for individual laborers, industrialized work was synonymous with being crushed and deprived of their personality, with being unable to see the fruits of their intelligence and efforts, now because they consider their own all that regards the others as well, work cannot help but take on meaning, indeed a stimulating meaning.

What is needed, therefore, is a new … vast social awareness. Indeed, since the economy of each country is so linked to that of other nations, the situation requires a “global” social awareness as the Pope has also affirmed. Who is capable of helping individuals to fully achieve this and to regard themselves as members of one great human family… “without denying man’s origins and the membership of his family, his people and his nation, or the obligations arising there from…”?[1] Who can accomplish this after human beings have shattered their union with God through sin, thus seriously compromising over and over again, communion with other brothers and sisters and therefore human solidarity?

Who can do it? Only Christ can – he who is so often relegated to our private life. Only his supernatural and universal love – so often considered as something limited to people’s prayer life and is instead the indispensable leaven for the whole of human existence in all its expressions. It is only with his love that we can build confidently a world of lasting justice and peace.

As far as work is concerned, it is only with his love that selfishness and hatred – often considered the law of social life – can be eliminated. It is with his love that working communities will witness how unity rather than conflict can truly improve work. With his love the life of society itself will not be conceived as a struggle against someone but as a commitment to grow together. Therefore only a new civilization based on love will be capable of offering a solution to the complex problems of the world of work.”

Chiara Lubich, Rome, 3 June 1984

[1] John Paul II, Address to the International Labor Organization in Geneva. June 15, 1982, n. 10.

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