Autumn Equinox – XX September 2011

Equinozio di Autunno – XX Settembre 2011

Address by Grand Master Gustavo Raffi

Laity and joint commitment, building propositions for Italy

“What really matters is to live everything. Live the questions, now”. This consideration of Rainer Maria Rilke has often been a good companion; it shows and identifies the way that we want to follow together. These words outline the possibility – in a deeply ethical way – of finding a new passage to the West also for Italy; a different way of living the differences which constitute the fabric of the deepest humanity. What matters is not to anaesthetize the problems, but how to deal with them.
Today our country is weary and morally demoralized, we do not need a demagogic and populist shortcut. We need a clear stance against any pensée unique – the single thought – transformism or apathy. We need to inaugurate a new period of an authentically democratic and liberal thought. We need to fight for a laical and supportive thought. On the occasion of our recent meeting in Reggio Calabria, Valerio Zanone defined it “our journey toward an identity and a project for Italy”. We do not want any museum celebrations or rhetoric celebrations. On the contrary, we want to set up a site of reflections and propositions for our Nation, laying the foundations for a possible change. A change everyone hopes for, but that is slow in coming.
Our work is not the art of barkers, but knowledge and deep research. It is the heresy of the free thinking against the logic of the flock. It is the fight against the most hazardous evil of our times: uncertainty. The fight of the young people without a future, the fight of the older generation without safety. Stop to complaints and crying: we need answers. It is time to take care, not to give room to the vain words of men and privileged castes that are out of time. Stop: once and for all! We need the new and the sensible. In our bag of wayfarers – all around this year of celebrations of the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Unity of Italy – we have carried a thought, which is rooted in that idea of the Risorgimento that has cemented the unity of our Country. This has produced a generation of rebels who have changed the destiny of our Country. In the name of this common feeling a New Pact of Fraternity is needed, able to get us out of the shallows of this economic and moral decay.
It is not enough to govern at any cost, if we lack the values in whose name to govern – as the great Agostino said.
In our case, in our time, and for us, values must be the laical virtues and the civil achievements. Those ideas-forces that let us overcome “the unfulfilled promises of democracy”, as Norberto Bobbio said. Laity – Massimo Teodori reminds us -has not accomplished its mission, because it has been substituted by economy and finance, or by old schemes and religious dogmas that have had their day and do not honor to the moral and civil (but not politic) commitment of the Church. The Church does not have exclusive rights to the free consciences of our Country.
A laic freedom exists, and it must get stronger, a freedom that is the most valuable achievement of the Unified Italy; it must become the ethic glue of our social and political life: in one word, being citizens, not subjects. It must become the set of rules that are shared everyday and marked by common respect, by openness and comparison. That is why we oppose to a religion-image and politics as a fiction that renounced to understand history and precluded itself the possibility to produce a future. Politics has transformed itself in the power of the opinion polls and in the administration of the existing situation, without being able to outline a common destiny.


For this reason, the ancient ability to doubt of the Free Masons – who do not belong to anybody – is the starting point to build a future: starting from the transition we are living. But we do not give up our history or our values. Tocqueville was not wrong, when he wrote: “When I feel the hand of the power pressing on my forehead, I care very little who is pressing me, nor I am more willing to bow my head under the yoke, only because a million of arms are imposing it to me”. For this, our stake is Freedom. And our enemy is conformity.
For this reason, we cannot live in the Big Brother “houses”, but we want to cure the “cramps” of democracy by giving answers to the youth, by reviving Culture and our South, by opening a common ground of confrontation to all looking for a job and rights. to all wishing those “relational goods” – like the cooperatives of voluntary work, the no-profit organizations, the civic foundations and the institute of research – which are the salt of a modern social and fair democracy.
This is the true democracy: not the one that always comes after somebody. Not the one which leaves “the house of Italians” still unfinished, as the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano remarks very rightfully every day. All Italians are asked to participate in a common effort of involvement and construction, in the name of the reasons of the many, not the interest of the few, in the name of that world as a whole – where Freemasonry recognizes itself and lives, as a point of reliable reference of values and civil practice, in this époque of disenchantment, of moral crisis, conformism and superficiality. We are aware that we are not alone. We are part of the destiny of Europe. “If Europe wants to be an example for the modern world – Le Goff wrote – it must respect the others, open itself to the others. Since the ancient times of the Greeks Europe has done great things by opening itself”. We must do that again. We need to open and not close ourselves, in order to reach this aim. We must open us to a poly-identity. Italy and Europe must re-think themselves starting from the Mediterranean, that is archi-pelagus. The Sea par excellence: a space for every confrontation and exchange, a place for every idea and history.
We must, then, build bridges and help to build them full of hope. We must rediscover the value of difference and live a new pact of Brotherhood, in the liquid borders of new tensions which our Country is facing and will have to face. We must find our identity again, without feeling ourselves in a state of siege. The philosopher Giuseppe Cantarano is right when notes that “a civilization needs accounting. But maybe it needs more story-telling…”.
For this reason, we need passion, reason and confrontation. Who is not afraid of confrontation can look at the future. As long as there will be one man, there will always be a need of confrontation and dialogue. And Freemasonry will be there- like it has always been – to accompany the walk of those wishing to dialogue.
On the eve of the Nazi barbarism, Walter Benjamin wrote: “In our reading books, there was the tale of the old man who, on his deathbed, makes his sons believe that in his vineyard a treasure is hidden. They only have to dig. They do that, but no evidence of the treasure is found. But when winter comes, the vineyard returns more fruits than any other in the whole region. So the sons understand that their father has left an experience to them: fortune is not in gold, but in industriousness.
We too, have received this message from the Fathers of our Country, who have taught us to love our land, and to live in it full of hope. We have collected the lesson of freedom and laity which rises from it. We are not standing still. We do not want to stand still. We will not stand still.

Rome, “Il Vascello”, September 17, 2011