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Monday, December 5, 2022

It is time for realisation and rebellion

By: Dr Janez Juhant, theologian and philosopher

The key for a person personally, but also for the family and other social groups, is to overcome the fear of suffering. Today there is a widespread belief that everything is right and good! Children are brought up to be as comfortable as possible, the school encourages pleasantness, but not duties and effort. Personal and social history, however, leaves scars on the face. Only committed composure to persevere even in efforts and to process personal and social problems of the past and present makes it possible to live in truth and act reciprocally, in openness towards others.

It is necessary to touch personal and social wounds and traumas, which requires purification, lustration of personal and social lies, which is a necessary process for the self-confidence of the individual and the nation, even in Slovenia after the victory of Svoboda party. Unfortunately, in the family, school, the general public, and in politics, too little attention is paid to this, which is why psychologists and psychiatrists pay so much more attention to it. Due to the consequences of these half-past false sediments and traumas and constant new personal and global entanglements, society is threatened by a boiling point of crisis, which is a challenge to the responsible public and its institutions. The Church also shares these problems, but as a servant of truth, it is the first to be called to touch the wounds. This is primarily a matter of the individual, but it is necessary to purify the church and social community, which can only be realised through others in dialogue with them. Just as the traumas of youth or semi-past were caused by others, ancestors or contemporaries, purification also comes only in dialogue with others. Socially responsible people have the duty to take a leading role in these processes, so that Slovenian society, traumatised by lies and burdens, will search for the truth. Thus, the dissidents (Karta 77) took responsibility and consciously defied the lie despite oppression and terror. The narrow path of the search for truth requires self-discipline, self-organisation, and connections across families and communities to mutually cope with suffering and defy lies.

The starting point for this is the confrontation with one’s own vulnerability, which most religions see in the recognition of the limits of man, which is a condition for mutual cooperation and for the path of dialogical search for truth. Unfortunately, in modern society, where at least on the outside everything is supposed to be perfect and without problems (cool), this effort overlaps with real and virtual, even artificial stimulants, which creates a virtual reality about the person and society. Education, public propaganda, politics, and its institutions (national assembly, government, judiciary), unfortunately, even the Church, have a hard time undertaking self-purification, which requires an open dialogical confrontation with personal and social wounds.

Acknowledging personal limitations and vulnerability is a condition for openness to others and to God. This is the path of true self-awareness of oneself and others and a condition for family and social cohesion. From the family, healthy acceptance also extends to community bonding. Local self-government and strong personal subsidiary-based groups overcome the totalitarian sediments of violent regulation from the top. An integral part of this connection and compassion is responsibility for and solidarity with others. This is not only help in times of need, but a feeling of community and sharing life with everyone, in the family, small communities, in the Church and society, from which a healthy social fabric grows. This provides resistance against the authorities’ tendencies to take over individuals and groups and obliges them to critical and active participation and involvement in socio-political processes.

In this way, the feeling of home, homeland, and the strength of one’s own connection, which is in the mother’s language, is continuously and long-term strengthened. According to Ehrlich, a person is born into a national affiliation and shapes his cultural space through language. Language is also an emotional bond between persons in relationships, especially in the early years, and this creates a home as a basic need of a person, on which patriotism and love are based. In the self-confidence of personal and national belonging, a person more firmly accepts others and differences. In this way, he is able to carry his cross every day and cope with personal and social burdens. Christianity and other religions add an even deeper basis to this. Ehrlic’s Višar Slovenia enables the transcendence of personal and national limitations and opens for the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of God the Father of all people. Despite the inclination to paganism, every man, as Tertullian says, is by nature a Christian, i.e., a religious being open to God, who transcends earthly boundaries. Therefore, an integral part of faith is a prophetic attitude that does not submit to any limitations and frameworks. Otherwise, the prophet complains that he is not accepted, but God answers him that he must return to the Lord and must not bow down to the crowd: “If you bow down to me, I will give you back your service with me; and if you want to state only noble thoughts, nothing wrong, you can be my messenger again. They must turn to you, but you must not turn to them. Then I will make you a bronze, solid wall against this people. They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you, to kill and to save you, says the Lord, I will rescue you from the hand of the wicked and deliver you from the hand of the oppressors.” (Jeremiah 15, 19-21) These were Lambert Ehrlich, Filip Terčelj, Angela Vode, Izidor Završnik, Jože Pučnik, Boris Pahor, Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, etc.

Until the revolution, Slovenian consciousness was shaped by Catholic Christianity. How strong, we can also read in Ehrlich, Kocbek, and the crusaders. They dreamt of a full religious consciousness, but with the Dolomite/Puglej declaration, they submitted to the totalitarian fist and Kocbek’s project of spiritual renewal of Slovenian Catholics turned them into terror-forced and mutilated personalities. After independence, post-communist circles still impose their “soft totalitarianism” on them for the needs of the real authorities. It is time for realisation and rebellion.

(The mentioned contribution was prepared by the author for his performance at the Draga study days.)

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