“Building peace through the culture of encounter”
— English transcript —
In this moment, young people and adults of Israel, Palestine and other parts of the world, of different nationalities, creeds and realities, all of us breathe the same air, we step upon the same ground, our common home.
Your stories are many — each one has their own. There are as many stories as there are people, but life is one.
That’s why I want to celebrate these days you’ve lived in Jerusalem, because you yourselves, from your differences, achieved unity. No one taught you this. You lived it.
You had the courage to look each other in the eyes, to look at each other unguardedly, and that is indispensable for an encounter to take place. In the unguardedness of your gaze, there aren’t any answers; there is openness. Openness to everything that is other, that is not me. Looking each other in the eye without pretense or prejudice, we become receptive to life.
Life doesn’t pass us by. It intersects us and moves us and this is passion. Once one is open to life and to others, to the one I have beside me, an encounter happens, and this encounter gives meaning.
We all have meaning. We all have meaning in life. None of us is a “no.” We all are a “yes.”
We are all a “yes,” and that is why, when we find meaning, it is as if our soul were expanding. And we need to put this meaning into words. We need to give it a shape to contain it; to express, in some way, what has happened to us. And that is creation.
In addition, when we realize that life has meaning and that this meaning overflows beyond us, we need to celebrate it. We need a festivity, as a human expression of the celebration of meaning.
It is then that we find the deepest feeling possible—a feeling that exists in us due to and in spite of everything, due to everything and in spite of everything. This feeling is gratitude.
Scholas grasps that this is what education is about. Education opens us to the unknown, and brings us to that place in which the waters have not yet been parted. Free of prejudice. That is to say, free of previous judgments that hold us back, so that, from there, we can dream and seek new paths.
This is why, as adults, we cannot take away from our children and young people the capacity to dream, nor to play, which in a certain way is a form of dreaming while awake. If we don’t allow children to play, it is because we do not know how to play, and if we do not know how to play, then we do not understand gratitude, nor gratuity, nor creativity.
This encounter has taught us that we have an obligation to listen to the young and create a context of hope so that those dreams can grow and be shared. When a dream is shared, it becomes the utopia of a whole people: the possibility of creating a new way of living. Our utopia, that of all those who in some way are part of Scholas, is to create through this education a culture of encounter.
We can unite as persons, valuing the diversity of cultures, to achieve not unity, but harmony. How much this atomized world needs it! This world which fears whoever is different, which, based not this fear, sometimes builds walls that end up making real our worst nightmare: to live as enemies. What a great need this world has of going out to meet others!
This is why I thank you today—adults, the academic faculty and staff of Hebrew University and of so many universities throughout whole world who are present there—for not closing in on yourselves, and for placing your valuable knowledge at the service of listening.
And I thank all the young people of Israel and Palestine, and the guests from other countries around the world, for having the courage to dream, to search for meaning, to create, to thank, to celebrate, and to put your minds, hands and hearts to work to make a culture of encounter a reality. Thank you very much.