The tragedy of contemporary man is exactly this: although he declares war on God, he desperately seeks peace among men. While being completely indifferent to internal peace, he seeks aggressively for the external peace.
The world is straining from the certainties of leaders who are profoundly out of balance. We all know the difference between power and influence wielded with a hardened heart, compared with power and influence wielded with compassionate open heartedness.
Our times demand that we all bring our whole selves to the task of leadership. What enables me to risk leadership with compassionate open heartedness is my deep connection to the natural world. When I despair or am overwhelmed by anger at the injustice running rampant in the world, or lose my perspective on how to make a difference, or lose my faith in humanity, I turn to what has always been the source of greatest nurturance to me. The beauty and wonder of this earth, its mountains, its forests, its waters, its creatures, each and all restore my soul and heal my wounds. “For a time I rest in the grace of the world and am free”.
John Paul II
From the problem of war, our gaze naturally turns to another closely related issue: the question of solidarity. The lofty and demanding task of peace, deeply rooted in humanity’s vocation to be one family and to recognize itself as such, has one of its foundations in the principle of the universal destination of the earth’s resources. This principle does not delegitimize private property; instead it broadens the understanding and management of private property to embrace its indispensable social function, to the advantage of the common good and in particular the good of society’s weakest members.
Unfortunately, this basic principle is widely disregarded, as shown by the persistent and growing gulf in the world between a North filled with abundant commodities and resources and increasingly made up of older people, and a South where the great majority of younger people now live, still deprived of credible prospects for social, cultural and economic development.
No one should be deceived into thinking that the simple absence of war, as desirable as it is, is equivalent to lasting peace. There is no true peace without fairness, truth, justice and solidarity. Failure awaits every plan which would separate two indivisible and interdependent rights: the right to peace and the right to an integral development born of solidarity….
Mercy is an indispensible element for shaping mutual relationships between people…. It is impossible to establish this bond between people, if they wish to regulate their mutual relationships solely according to the measure of justice. In every sphere of inter-personal relationships justice must, so to speak, be ‘corrected’ to a considerable extent…by that merciful love which is so much of the essence of the Gospel and Christianity.