Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
Chiara Lubich is the founder of the “Focolare” Movement. This Movement was born in time of war in Trento, Italy (1943). Chiara Lubich is one of the persons I most admire. I joined this Movement in 2010. The Movement goes beyond the love that is limited to one’s own family, children, husband or wife, friends or colleagues. Everyone is loved: from the greengrocer to the doorman, from the Member of Parliament to the President, everyone. This is the first requirement of the art of loving. This is the art that brings the fact of being brothers and sisters ahead.
Chiara gave life at the Center of the Movement to the Abba School, to develop the doctrinal dimension contained in the charism of unity. With a group of politicians in Naples, she created the Movement for Unity in Politics, proposing to them, despite their different political parties, to have fraternity as the basis of their life and political commitment. Chiara referred of fraternity as the basis on which it is possible to think of the common good of all people, considering the whole of humankind in political terms. This is both an essential task and an essential goal for political action.
The figure of Chiara has marked important moments in my life. Her calm, her intelligence, her openness to dialogue with different religions made her one of the most important people of the 20th century.
I am in Bangkok studying at Rotary Peace Center and it is impossible to forget the historic visit of Chiara in Thailand in 1997, where focolarinos and friends were waiting for her with “puang malai”, garlands of tropical flowers.
Bangkok and Chiang Mai were the cities where Chiara met members of the Buddhist Monasticism. The consequence was a rich and intense dialogue between the Catholic Church and this eastern religion.
I completely agree with Chiara when she said that Bangkok is a city where people are very kind, they always smile and where the western anxiety and loneliness of big cities are absent. The king is considered the father of the country.
Chiara visited Thailand for two important reasons: 1) Saint John’s University invited her in order to award her with a doctorate honoris cause in “Social Communications” due to the outstanding service to the community through the use of the media 2) Chiara was invited by the Buddhist Master of a community of Buddhist monks as the result of the important dialogue that took place.
Buddhist Monk Thongrattana Thavorn spent some time in the citadel of the Focolare Movement in Loppiano (Italy). He could discover deep connections with his own spiritual life. He could know a new “Christianity”.
Chiara and the Buddhist Master shared their desire of peace and harmony among the religions. Peace, always peace, an outstanding condition, the same that inspires our course at Rotary Peace Center.
Thailand is a Buddhist country (95%) and the Christians represents a minority (0.1%). The meeting of the Buddhist Master and Chiara will be unforgettable due to the level of spiritual exchange between a Thai community and a Christian community. They taught us that peace is always possible in spite of the differences.
In Chiang Mai, the Buddhist Master Ajahn Tong introduced Chiara as “leader of the religious dialogue of international scope” and he asked her to tell her spiritual experience in order to reflect about it.
When I remember this outstanding event I think in the Course at Rotary, where we are motivated to know each other, to deepen our knowledge, to develop our skills in order to make our contribution for a better world.
Chiara was the first Christian woman who talked at a center of vipassana meditation. The Buddhist Master said: “A wise person is not a man nor a woman. A wise person is not an adult nor a child. Chiara is here in order to give us her light”. These words lead me to think about gender issues, which unfortunately in so many cases are controversial. Chiara was a woman who was considered equal by men and this equality is that every woman wants to achieve.
We are Fellows and we work for peace. I think Chiara would recommend us to recognize one another as brothers and sisters to bring about real change in the world. The leader of the Focolare Movement said: “In today’s world of course, what happens is unfortunately what has always happened in history and even in the modern age when people do not see each other as brothers and sisters. They don’t see further than the color of their skin, their language or nationality, their sexual orientation or anything else. That’s what happens, truly. So I really think that the very simple solution of fraternity, to know that we are brothers and sisters, is a solution… a helpful and very useful solution. I’d say it is necessary in order to bring about real change in our world”.
To conclude I want to remember the wish of everyone who participated in the meeting with Chiara: “Being witnesses of kindness for the world around us”. My wish is that after our program at Rotary Peace Center we could become ardent advocates of a fair world where the most important principle and value is peace.
María Julia Moreyra- Argentina
Rotary Peace Fellow- Class 20