ANS - Go to Home Page
ANS - Salesian iNfo Agency

IT EN ES FR PT PL Standard Version || Text only

Print this page Print   

12/2/2016 - France – Joining the resistance to terrorism

(ANS - Paris) - A few months ago France was scarred by the horror perpetrated by some young people in Paris. Is there anyone among us who has not suffered the shock of those images? Anyone who has not been shocked by the testimony of the survivors? Who is not taken aback by these men who prefer to kill and be killed rather than let life flourish? We give the word to Fr Emmanuel Besnard, SDB, an educational specialist, who shares his reflections and some encouragement to "become involved in resistance."

Following the attacks of November, some of us were assailed by a fit of rage. We felt anger against the people who justify their atrocities, anger in the face of tensions that were fomented in speeches heard here and there, anger about the climate of suspicion that the internal security measures were creating.

Those terrorist attacks came to strangle the foundation of humanity: the desire for life, faith and love. Before we can properly define "evil", we need to reflect. Like Mary, who "pondered these things in her heart" (Lk 2, 19), we begin to resist, not in a passive resistance, but in a real fight for life. This is a battle to be shared with young people. It has three inseparable aspects.

An ethical battle

Xavier Thevenot called it "the work to which a person is obliged when, faced with evil, they refuse to accept suicide and nihilism and seeks with others, acting within and beyond the institutions of a given society, to find, and in part to create, the meaning of their life."

Taking up this challenge does not mean excusing the evil that was perpetrated, but reflecting on the impact of the evil in the world, and finding answers to claim instead the place of the beautiful and the good.

We enter this ethical struggle through dialogue in families, classrooms, playgrounds, in pastoral groups and in other places where young people live. This dialogue will be more fruitful if it is undertaken with some knowledge of the Muslim faith, what it is and what it is not, and of the mechanisms used by jihadists to attract candidates for terrorism, and how they can protect themselves. If young people understand better the problems associated with terrorist acts, and if they do not fall into simplistic confusion, they will be better able to cope with the reductionist discourses and find a meaning for their lives and the society they live in.

A spiritual battle

In the hell of the Nazi camp at Westerbok, Etty Hillesum wrote this prayer: "I'll help you, my God, do not leave me. You are not the one who can help us, but we are the ones who can help you. That's all we can save in this era and it is also the only thing that matters: a bit of You in us, my God." Accepting the challenge, therefore, means that we help one another to keep vigil in retreat and prayer, so that the Risen One, the Living One, may live in our hearts.

We should not forget that against the evil spirits that made the boy in the Gospel insane (Mk 9:29), Jesus declared: "This kind of spirit can only be driven out by prayer and fasting." Can we not see in this boy in the Gospel, all these young people driven crazy by the jihadists?

To enter into a spiritual battle with young people we must first of all help them to come to terms with the images transmitted on our screens. It would be good to limit the time of exposure to these broadcasts, but the real key is to educate them to view critically what they see. In recent weeks, several websites have proposed criteria for discernment to understand and interpret the images and news.

This fight requires the support of whatever is the essential element of their lives. For young people who share the Christian faith, an appropriate prayer time, or a meaningful celebration (with or without the Eucharist) can be real resources to support young people in developing their interior life and in understanding their faith.

Another perspective consists in moving out of the French context and relying on the experience of Middle Eastern Christians. It may prove fascinating and fruitful to meet migrants from these regions, discuss some videos on the lives of Christians in Iraq, or even propose some prayer for our brothers in the East.

A battle for fraternity

More than ever before, the value of Fraternity, so dear to the French Republic, must permeate our concerns and our actions. I believe that fraternity is even more important to our Muslim brothers who are frightened by the actions of some of them. The calls of the young people of "CoExister" and the Association of Muslim Students of France, which are widespread in the social networks, should encourage us. These young people are asking us to continue to build together a multicultural society that is more just and fraternal.

Fighting for fraternity means continuing to meet the other person whoever they may be and to have confidence in them. These meetings with people of different culture or religion help us to build life together. We all know that young people like the experience of sharing and dialogue with peers from other cultures. Simply listen to young people who have participated in any of the Youth Days and you will be pleasantly convinced. They really want to meet young men and women from different social and cultural backgrounds! More broadly, it is the whole of our society that needs to take steps to facilitate the sharing of cultural riches.

To think that we can opt out of even one of these battles would be a mistake because they form a single whole. Joining the resistance against the terror sought by terrorists demands that we respond "Here I am!" to all the battles.

Until we are able to deploy all the forces of the world, making the Internet secure in many ways, and multiplying controls in crowded places, the best weapon in the fight against terrorism is education. It is a long-term work and the fruits are sometimes invisible, but education seems the only option capable of helping young people to grow in their sense of the meaning of life, faith and love. In a time of terrorism education must be able to address the three levels of action: ethical, spiritual and fraternal. We must not be afraid to take part in this education.

Like the Child Jesus in the arms of Mary Help of Christians who holds his arms outstretched always in a gesture of welcome, we join our best efforts to assist men and women who are passionate about life, faith and love.

P. Emmanuel Besnard, SDB

Published 12/02/2016

Source: Don Bosco Aujourd'hui

comunica ANS news

The latest Service
12/2/2016 - France – Joining the resistance to terrorism
29/1/2016 - RMG – My dear young people: ALLOW YOURSELVES TO BE CAPTIVATED BY JESUS
6/11/2015 - Nigeria – The first Salesian work in the North of Nigeria, under the threat of terrorist groups
23/10/2015 - RMG – “The Young, together with Doctors and Nurses, have been the Heroes against Ebola”
4/9/2015 - RMG - Communication on the Meeting of SDB-FMA General Councils

Service from last week
Service from last month