Old answers to new problems?
Globalization is an invitation to open minds. It is a challenge to widen hearts and borders in the face of a change of epoch that also involves the fall of walls and the construction of relational bridges and social networks. It’s a problem and it’s also an opportunity. The last two decades of the twentieth century and the first two decades of this 21st century mark a turning point in history for the formation of a new culture in which certainties and dogmas are broken. Faced with this reality of globalization and media interconnection, we need to redo the historical march, rethly rethearse culture and education, rethearse institutions, nationalities, humanism and the person.
In some countries there are citizens who say, “Twenty-five years ago we passed a Constitution for a country that no longer exists.” Some people ask: Where is the institution where I made a promise to serve? Where is the homeland, the marriage, the family I promised to stay in? Where is the humanism I trusted? What happened to paradigmatic ideologies and societies?
However, these questions do not discourage our choice for the people and Christian humanism we stand for. Christians follow one Person more than an ideology. That is why our humanism is a way of seeing the human being (men and women) capable of transcending it. We do not lose hope of progress, growth and development, but without losing the soul of history. We have reason to be optimistic, without denying reality, because hope guides us. These are not Quixotic adventures, nor platonic idealisms, but we wait and fight for a better world.
In human history, at least in the West, there have been openings and globalizations to new realities at various times. When the Western Roman Empire falls due to the invasion of the barbarians, a transformative process begins during the Middle Ages to shape a new Europe. During the 19th and 16th centuries, with the Renaissance and the Baroque period, a new globalization appeared that meant for Europeans to open the up to new cultures and peoples. A new world view is formed and earth maps are re-made. The humanism of Francis de Vitoria created international law to welcome all people and proposed new methods of evangelization. Astronomy provided data that meant changing the way we view the universe. The Baroque sought to combine the apolíneo with the Dionisiac, recognize the order and harmony of the classic and welcome the imagination and feeling of the barbarians. The twentieth century opened its doors to modernity, encyclopedist globality, to accommodate reason and all the knowledge provided by letters, arts, sciences and techniques. Most modern states, Republican Constitutions and democratic governments are related to this openness to new human-centered social relations. At the end of the twentieth century and in the new millennium we wonder again about the future of humanism.
Some challenging proposals
for globalized humanism
The humanism of yesteryear and the present seek to recover the old and open these to the new, establish a dialogue between sciences and the arts, reason and faith, always respecting man at the center. At the same time they recognize that there may be other centers of gravity and energy. Now, it is important to know what conception of man we start from to build humanism. A man who is balanced, with the proportions of Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci? An indefinite human being in his gender, in his conduct and in his purpose? A man lost in the matter? A person open to transcendence? A man capable of renewing himself and recreating history?
Postmodern humanism is open to globalization, it has to recover the past and look to the future, rediscover anonymous heroes, recognize the value of the vanquished, appreciate the goodness of plurality for union. The materialistic humanism of gigantic and immutable figures is obsolete; the rationalist humanism of modernity does not currently serve; romantic subjectivism also does not satisfy us… what will the human being be like that is being forged in this new spring?
The humanism we expect will be social and community. We must live together and live together in peace. Today individualism does not serve to govern, produce, learn, teach. In reality, when princes and kings cease to exist, so do the subjects and sovereignty of the nations. In democratic governance regimes, the most important thing is the people, citizens, laws and separation of powers. At the same time, we enter a system of international relations, exchange, appreciation and mutual recognition. Today’s humanism goes through social media and friendly collaborative relationships. We are not only the subject of leisure, consumption and production but subjects of dialogue open to fraternity. What will the new relationships of globalized humanism look like?
Postmodern humanism must be able to globalize solidarity. Christian personalism always maintained the preferential option for the poor. New globalized humanism must not discard or marginalize any human being. The humanism of modernity fought to abolish noble titles, the nobility of dent, royal dynasties, personal and labor slavery… what achievements can we expect from postmodern and globalized humanism? Where are the marginalized today?
New humanism will leave room for free. Modernity fought for social justice, while the proposal of postmodernity is to globalize gratuitousness and collaboration among people. Smile and friendship are free. Forgiveness is also the great gift. Water and air, earth, sky and seas should also be free. Gratuitousness is a free and voluntary vital attitude more than determination by decree to make food, medicines, books free… The gratuitousness imposed so that everyone is equal by obligation generates dependence and paternalism. Free, personal and voluntary gratuitousness is the daughter of solidarity and fraternity. Free gestures break the logic of the market. Life is given to us for free like the air we breathe. Free should be our commitment to keep air, land and water without pollution. What will a man be like to foster fraternity for free and globalize free?
Another challenge of new humanism is to build the freedom to give life, to decide and exercise trust and responsibility in a reciprocal way. It is true that human beings do not possess absolute freedom and are born with trimmed wings, but they are born with wings and need to fly freely. Without exercising the capacity for self-determination, the person is ankylating and dying. Man needs to undertake, create, express himself and associate with freedom and responsibility. Responsible freedom is a guarantee of personal and social growth.
Future humanism must learn to process failure and pain, frustration, and death. It is said that the current man is fragile, has a liquid personality, is fickle and without consistency in his life. The person has to learn to recognize and accept their limitation and vulnerability. We are not gods and we don’t have everything right away to reach it with our hand. Human beings are aware of their limit, their expiration and their pain. It is right to recognize that man is at the center, but without wanting to usurp God’s place. When man becomes endious and renounces to be a creature, he succumbs to his instincts.
Globalized humanism requires projecting history. You can’t stop the story or repeat it. True history is made by exercising memory and dreams, looking to the past and projecting into the future. History is never identified with fatalism or with past events but with the events that give meaning to life. Past, present and future history always has meaning and purpose. It is right to dwell on the facts, in their causes and consequences, but we can also analyze the ends to transcend the past, because human beings do not settle for past time or future, but thirst for transcendence and eternity.
Humanism always seeks clues to recognize goodness, beauty and truth. These values give transcendence to the human being. We need to know, appreciate, want in an integral way. There is no ethics without aesthetics, nor beauty without truth. The human being is transformed with courage and appreciation: Don Quixote managed to transform the body of Aldonza with the soul of Dulcinea. Postmodern humanism is called to propose models of beauty and goodness (kalos). When something is good, we say: How beautiful! When something is cute, we say, “That’s good! When we find the truth of heights or depths in the human being, we exclaim: How cute! That’s what God did when he discovered his own image in man and woman: “He saw that what he had created was very beautiful and good.”
New humanism must choose to build the common good. This is precisely the role attributed to politics: seeking the common good. Politics is human if it is at the service of the common good. It is not human the politics that serve only the strongest, richest, most privileged. Good is common if it is for the good of all and not a few. How to make this exercise of individuals and societies to organize? How to build together the new towns, cities and nations? How to exercise politics and citizenship in the service of the common good without abusive powers or repressors?
The humanism of the new times is media, virtual, digital of multidimensional image. The contents of knowledge are at hand, are already stored by the computer science and do not need to be retained in our memory. But today’s humanism cannot do without connectivity, networks, connections, global society. This reality allows for multiple factors to affect education. The printing press was an acquisition of the renaissance, the school was a proposal that became widespread after the French revolution to this day. Publications and school institutions have allowed us to expand and disseminate knowledge, but today there are other avenues of information and education that have been incorporated into postmodern societies. Humanism today cannot do without them.
Today’s and future humanism must be humble. It is man’s own contact with the dust of the earth, with the mud, with the rock, with the cement… When man isolates, he becomes selfish; when man dispenses with others he becomes engelled. Each individual person is important, has their own identity and values, circumstances, origin and belongings. However, humanism fades without you and us. The temptation of today’s man is to seek alone his own realization. The market stimulates consumption and selfish competition, but people only recognize and grow in front of you who declares their love to us. We can only build globalized humanism in community, in the company of others walking together with a common project.
Future humanism will be open to joy, beauty and hope. Today, in many parts of the world there are signs of frustration, tiredness and hopelessness, but the inner values of men and women are stronger than the external circumstances of our society. Love, truth, beauty and creativity are always stronger than adversity and frustrations.
Today we need to bet on a new humanism, a new nation project, a new and better world, for a higher quality life. Christians have reason not to be too sleepy. The Church has become an expert in humanity and hope. The path is long and difficult, but today’s globalization is timely to sow creativity, to exercise love and gather fruits of hope.
The mystery of the incarnation teaches us that God himself has turned to the human being. The Son of Man, Jesus Christ, “despite his divine condition, made no boast of his category of God, on the contrary, he anonyged himself and took the status of slave, passing through one of many. And so, acting like any other man, he went down to submit even to death and a death of the cross. That is why God raised him above all and gave him the Name-over-all-name…” (Flp 2.6-11). With our eyes fixed on the dead and risen Christ, we can globalize humanism and hope. Ω