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Migrants and refugees: men and women in search of peace

The Message for the World Day of Peace is a reminder that the efforts for intelligent solidarity are the sole antidote, and that “the realism required of international politics” must “avoid surrendering to cynicism and to the globalization of indifference”

“Some consider this [global migrations] a threat. For my part, I ask you to view it with confidence as an opportunity to build peace.” Notwithstanding the analyses, the proposals, and the inspiration for reflection contained in Pope Francis’ Message for the 51st World Day of Peace, the beating heart of his appeal is encompassed in a clearly evangelical phrase, shaped on the prophetic word of Jesus of Nazareth: “You have heard that it was said …. Truly I tell you!” (Cf. Mt 5:21 et seq.).

Some consider migrations a “threat”, Pope Francis urges us to consider them an “opportunity”. Far from being a rhetorical appeal, it is based on a truly global understanding of world developments, of the phenomena we are able to tackle and which deadlocks we risk incurring in.

It requires transforming our gaze, adopting the contemplative vision that is anchored to the harsh reality of everyday life and that embraces it with the same eyes of the Creator who conceived life in abundance for all human beings He created in His image and likeness. In fact, at a superficial glance the migrants – refugees in particular – seem to be linked to peace merely by reason of the war that forces them to flee their lands and their homes.

But “peace” is not only the absence of lethal weapons: it’s a dignified life, hope in a better future, skies open to the horizon of an individual and of his dear ones, especially of the weakest and defenceless ones among them.

Only a “contemplative gaze”, one that penetrates the suffering human heart, guides determined, wise, responsible and intelligent deeds. Only in-depth discernment enables everyone – starting with those responsible for the public good at national and global level – to take action according to the “four mileposts” indicated by the Pontiff: “to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.” Other verbs could come to our minds but these four are addressed to “migrants”, those living human persons with a baggage of suffering and dignity who yearn to be recognised as such and to be welcomed, protected, promoted, integrated as such. Only in these terms will it be possible to cast off the deceitful and self-justifying division separating those fleeing war and those fleeing hunger or environmental disasters. Indeed, macrothymia, “thinking big”, “foresight”, enables us to embrace the complexities of life and to grasp and pursue pathways of non-obvious solutions. This passionate and com-passionate gaze –belonging to those who are compassionate and to those who suffer – underlies Pope Francis’ bold proposal for “two international compacts, one for safe, orderly and regular migration and the other for refugees”, to be drafted and approved by the United Nations:

Safe, not deadly migrations; orderly, not chaotic; regular, not controlled by traffickers in human beings.

The compacts, writes the Pope, “need to be inspired by compassion, foresight and courage, so as to take advantage of every opportunity to advance the peace-building process.” Only courage can transform potential threats into opportunities, into propitious occasions to make a leap forward on the path of humanization. This will require a tenacious, persevering determination to seek and pursue the common good and not particular interests – including those that place a part of a world against the other – but the Message of the World Day of Peace is a reminder that only the struggles for intelligent solidarity ensure that “the realism required of international politics avoid surrendering to cynicism and to the globalization of indifference.”

Cynicism and indifference can and must be combated by each one of us day by day, thus receiving from the smallest and defenceless ones among us the great gift of recovered humanity.

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