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188 C H A P T E R 1 4 With the Audacity of Realism I hear from many people that these times are characterized by great difficulty for those who do social work and have businesses. It seems like an earthquake, with everything crashing down. Today we find ourselves navigating “against the wind.” In this context, can we find the reasons to be audacious and realistic? The Crisis and the Person It seems to me that the starting point for a recovery is to acquire an elementary awareness: that any entrepreneur or worker involved in any kind of work for a business is a person. It may seem like saying that water flows downhill, but it is not so obvious. Everybody takes it for granted, reducing the person to his or her abilities. But the person is not just the sum of what they know how to do. Saying that an entrepreneur is a person means saying that before anything else, she or he needs clarity concerning his or her own origin and own destiny, concerning the source of his or her own worth, without which all the rest, starting with work capabilities, proves inadequate. It is all too evident that today the earthquake hits the center of one’s “I,” one’s substance. In this sense, the recession can be an unlooked-for but precious opportunity for discovering the truth of oneself, the grounding for one’s substance, and thus for laying a foundation suitable for facing the situation, the difficult challenge we have before us, one that is never detached from the exercise of one’s profession. What are the essential characteristics of the self? The genius of Dante Alighieri comes to our aid: “Everyone can vaguely apprehend some good / in which the mind may find its peace. / With desire , each one strives to reach it.”1 Where can such an “I,” with this desire for good that constitutes it, find its own substance, in order to stand firm in the midst of an earthquake? This is the truest challenge of the circumstances we find ourselves facing. What can rise to the level of the human being’s thirst? To find an answer, mere opinions, interpretations, and chatter are not enough, because they have no effect. This is the level at which we Christians can offer our simple contribution, that is, if we are the first to accept the verification of faith in our daily circumstances. Only those who undertake the path of this verification can confirm, through their testimony, that only Christ present in the Church corresponds to the constitutive needs of the human heart: “Christ, He alone satisfies the desires for truth and goodness [that Dante speaks of] that are rooted in every human being’s soul.”2 Only Christ ensures the satisfaction that generates affection capable of sustaining life in any eventuality, like a secure anchor in the midst of the storm. This is where one sees whether the encounter with circumstances has matured a certainty in us that enables us to offer our fellow human beings a sure foothold. This is what our experience makes clear. Only Christ, present here and now, can be the suitable foundation for an operative friendship like yours wants to be, one that wishes to face the world. Only in the companionship of true friends will you be able to look at the With the Audacity of Realism 189 reality of your business with freedom, without being overcome by the fear that blocks you from acknowledging how things stand, and this freedom from fear is the one condition for being able to face your circumstances with some possibility of success. I am talking about a companionship of friends that pushes each one to look at all the signs of the situation in which we find ourselves without disregarding any of them, a companionship that encourages and supports willingness to acknowledge the instructions of reality and obey them, changing everything that has to be changed, a companionship that helps us to have the audacity to make decisions, even risky ones, most appropriate for facing the challenges that lie ahead, before it is too late. Experience will make you discover the most precious value of your friendship: helping each other have a truer gaze upon reality. Compared to this, any other self-interest or advantage of any kind is too little for times of earthquake such as ours. Saint Thomas Aquinas understood well the nature of the challenge : “From nature...


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