Professor, among the founders and current President of City University of Bratislava (Slovac Republic).
Although my Italian is not that good, and I did not always understand everything, nonetheless I would like to share some of my impressions from this seminar with you. These days were a very deep experience for me. I could understand a lot of things, extend my mind on new topics but above all I was realizing, that something very special is coming to life here amongst us. Each one of us contributing a small part to the growth of this project with our cultural backgrounds, our understanding and opinions.
In the course of the past days we have been talking of important concepts, scientific details and new notions. I feel strongly, that we cannot leave these days stop here in this discussion. I would go as far as to say that the outcome of these days should be measured, analyzed and developed by some means. What happens to the ‘homo agapicus’ in the end? This is the point of view that should define the structure of our discussion. While listening to the presentations and discussions, I started to see four dimensions in which we should be developing the ‘homo agapicus’: the personal dimension, the scientific dimension, the political dimension and the institutional dimension. Allow me to present some ideas to each of these points.
1 The Personal Dimension
1.1 Who is ‘homo agapicus’?
First of all we need to define the notion of ‘homo agapicus’ more precisely. As far as I understood, the ‘homo agapicus’ sees his neighbor with clear and deep eyes. We could maybe define his attitude as martyrdom. Being a martyr in the sense, that we put our brother on the first place before ourselves.
This thought leads us to the question: If I define this new species called ‘homo agapicus’, am I ready to live according to that definition? Will I be doing some concrete changes in my everyday life? Will it change my attitude in my interactions with my neighbor? Will that cause changes in an enlarged surrounding and therefore ultimately in the society I live in?
However, while proposing a new species of human beings, we are not inventing one, we are not producing it artificially in a genetic lab trying to force society to accept it... Instead, we are describing a new species that already has been born and that already lives, exists and has been accepted by society. Here is this change that we are witnessing: from ‘homo sapiens’ to ‘homo agapicus’. Also, do we merely observe and describe this change or do we allow ourselves to be involved in this change? Are we ‘homini agapici’ right here and now? Or are we just sterilely describing this social phenomenon? What helps us to become a ‘homo agapicus’? What is the background that allows this transformation to happen? That brings us to the second point:
What is the spiritual background on which the notion and the existence of the ‘homo agapicus’ is based on? Our spiritual background is definitely Chiara Lubich’s charism. In the ‘Spirituality of Communion’ we can find all the aspects of the ‘homo agapicus’ - each point of our spirituality is describing a characteristic of what we call ‘homo agapicus’. Looking to our spiritual roots, there lies a huge treasure that sometimes stays undiscovered. The ‘homo agapicus’ is not just one aspect of the spirituality personified; it is the interconnections, the depth and radicality of the whole.
In this sense we are privileged, because the notion of the ‘homo agapicus’ does not stay on it’s own but is deeply connected with every other science concerning society: ‘homo agapicus’ in connection with law, economy, politics... all these connections should perhaps be treated more closely too...
2 Scientific Dimension
The scientific aspect of our work is obviously indispensable and extremely important. In these days I saw very clearly, that what would be our strength - the different background we come from, the different knowledge we have - can easily become a weakness. Everyone uses different definitions, different notions... everyone takes a different kind of general knowledge for grated... I think as a first step for our scientific work it is extremely important to create clear and transparent definitions of all the notions we use. I am convinced that this is the first step we need to take to be able to lead well founded discussions amongst us but also to be able to go out towards a broader scientific community and later maybe even enter into interdisciplinary dialogues.
As a second step of our scientific work together, I think we need to prepare a clear structure of research: knowing the one common point from where we all start and defining the goal where we want to arrive. In this part of our work all our differences and partial specialities will rise out as true treasures that will bring, as I believe, rich harvest.
3 Political Dimension
Politics needs to be a tool coming out of a living society while at the same time also feeding back to it and thus transforming institutions according to society’s needs. Hence if in society there is a new phenomenon - in our case the existence of the ‘homo agapicus’ - politics needs to see it, understand it, value it and create such conditions - through institutions - that not only can this new phenomenon that evidently vivifies the society exist, but that it can be preserved and guarded as well as supported, nourished and appreciated.
4 Institutional Dimension
On the basis of the above, it is important to find the social structure within which we can insert the ‘homo agapicus’ or better: we need to define the levels on which the ‘homo agapicus’ operates in society. Not only is it important to see how the phenomenon of the ‘homo agapicus’ already influences social structures, but it is even more important to create new structures which would protect and support the development of ‘homini agapici’ in our society.
4.1 The Executive Level
What is the social role of the ‘homo gapicus’ on the executive level? The ‘homo agapicus’ should be giving light to the executive forces to show them the way a society of ‘homini agapici’ needs to be lead for it is the executive that should operate the will of the people by political, economical and social tools.
4.2 Elements of Social Life
The executive force operates on the different elements of social life. If we start in the heart of the society, then we need to treat first the private sphere, then the local government and at the last instance the influence of the ‘homo agapicus’ reaches as far up as to changing the concept of state.
4.2.1 Private Sphere
The private sphere of action of the ‘homo agapicus’ is the most immediate and also the most important one. Every change of a society needs to come from the grassroots level - from the smallest social units. Now, as the ‘homo agapicus’ is unable to exist on his own, and a social unit can’t be an individual either, it is from the interactions between ‘homoni agapici’ that a first transformation of the society can come. This sphere includes the most immediate human transactions like friendship and family but it also extends into small units like clubs and associations as well as businesses and NGOs which also overlap with the economy of communion.
4.2.2 Local Government
On the level of local government the ‘homo agapicus’ has a concrete possibility to influence the society. It is on this level, where the functionaries know their community and know concretely how to act and what to do. So it is the responsibility of the ‘homo agapicus’ to amplify the voice of the smallest and transform local politics into concrete action.
4.2.3 Concept of State
Observing the interactions of the ‘homo agapicus’, one of the important tasks will be to find a new definition of state. If the interactions on the private level and on the level of local governments change, it is unthinkable that there would be no change at higher levels. This is the reason why we need to define our social structure from scratch - starting also by rethinking the very definition of the state, from the point of view of the ‘homo agapicus’.
This level touches all the aspects of law: creation of new laws starting from canonic law through european law going up to rights going beyond any geographical border... The new species of ‘homo agapicus’ also needs to influence the creation of new legislative forms. Maybe one of the questions that should be considered is also the reformulation of law. Why all norms need to be negative and about punishment? Maybe there is a way of creating an agapic law codex, a positive law? Of course we are not talking of normatizing the agapic relations between people and punishing their lack. It is more a question of creating the circumstances, where the existence of ‘homini agapici’ is possible and even desired.
How can we bring our results to the world? We need to communicate, communicate, communicate, as much as possible. Between each other on the research we are conducting; as well as to the outside, open to criticism and dialogue. No meaningful results can develop from our desk, when we work on them alone, instead we need dialogue. Only by trying to present our work to different audiences, 1. we learn how to present it so that it is understandable and 2. only out of these confrontations, discussions, dialogues and criticisms can we grow, know more and have better results. I think that it is our obligation to wake people up so they can start thinking about new things - we need to provoke them to thinking, only then fruitful and efficient results will start to come out of our work.
Where do we have to start in our project? First of all we need to broaden our social perspective. Even the ancient philosophers knew, that we need to climb out of our caves and stop looking at the immediate shadows of small things. We need to get out and look at the things the way they really are - illuminated directly by the light of the sun (Plato’s allegory of the cave from the Politeia). But how can we do that, how do we distinguish between shadows and reality? We need to follow the big personalities who managed to see that which is real - the society as it really is or as it is meant to be. Looking through the eyes of these giants of our times - giants in our sciences, giants in our spirituality, giants in arts and religion but above all giants in love. Personalities who were giants in being a ‘homo agapicus’ as were for example our beloved Chiara Lubich, John Paul II., Mother Theresa and many others on whose shoulders we need to climb to be able to see and then seeing make the right steps forward.
So how should we part after these special days of our social-one conference? In these days a picture of Pentecost continued to appear in my mind: the fear and abandonment of the disciples after Jesus has left them. It is easy to feel the same - Chiara is away and we could feel abandoned and fearful too. But no, we are not in the dark! We have the light, and we need to go out and spread it! Fearless, strong and with courage. We need to widen our small frightened thinking and come out, start dialoguing with different groups, certain of not giving our own weak thinking but rather the light that comes out from our communion.
Thank you for your attention now and for these special days spent together.