Surpluses and misalignments

The Tree of Our Children Is More Beautiful

Surpluses and misalignments/8 - The primordial seed of every human vocation is precious

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 21/10/2018

Eccedenze e disallineamenti 08 ridThe other, the Man, is ab initio the reciprocant. At the same time, we must not forget the other side of the coin of this ability of the other to reciprocate me. This capacity, in fact, presupposes that the other person represents a "human life" just like mine, and therefore it presupposes the existence of a life of his own and not mine, with his own ego and his own exclusive world, which are not mine, which are outside and beyond me, which transcend my life".

Family, work and school are all matters of reciprocity. The care we give remains imperfect unless we sometimes experience being assisted by those we assist, and no education is effective if while doing his lesson the teacher does not learn and change with his students. The relationship between ideal-driven communities and the people who are part of them is also a matter of reciprocity, which lives on a great closeness combined with a real distance. Nothing on earth is more intimate than an encounter in the spirit between people called to the same destiny by the same voice. That’s when we see the very desires of our heart in the other, when our said and not said words come back to us multiplied and sublimated. We rejoice in the same things, and the joy increases in seeing that the other is rejoicing for the same reasons and in the same way that we are.

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The Demolition of the Idol

Surpluses and misalignments/7 An inexorable effort that affects living people and communities

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 17/10/2018

Eccedenze e disallineamenti 07 ridThe ideal of good faith … is, like that of sincerity …, an ideal of being-in-itself. Every belief is a belief that falls short; one never wholly believes what one believes.

J.P. Sartre, Being and Nothingness (English translation by Hazel E. Barnes)

Those who have made faith - any faith, not just religious faith - the foundation of their lives, those who have made it the existential theme of their life and not one theme of the many, live constantly in fear of having founded their lives on deception, of having built an admirable building on nothing. For a long time this fear remains latent, especially when we are young: it appears from time to time and then waves us good-bye to let us live the time of enchantment in full, which is necessary to make our crazy flights possible. But, under the surface, it grows together with faith. Until, in an adult phase of existence, it emerges and imposes itself with an invincible force. It surprises us, it disturbs us a lot and it doesn't let us sleep.

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To learn about heaven we should descend

Surpluses and misalignments/6 - One sees God by looking into the eyes of men and women

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 07/10/2018

Eccedenze e disallineamenti 06 ridWith Moses we see the end of the mountaineering of sacred history, which began in reverse, downhill, with Noah who finds himself docked at the top of the Ararat with his basket boat and from there descends with the saved representatives of zoology..."

Erri De Luca, Upside Down (rough translation)

Western civilization was built around the idea of wealth and development - understood as the accumulation of things and as growth. This principle of quantity was then united with the ancestral conviction that purity and perfection are at the top and imperfection at the bottom; that the impure has to do with the earth and with the hands, and the pure with the sky. That the spirit is superior because it isn’t matter, it isn’t body. And so the types of work that touch the earth and make use of the hands are low, impure, worthless, while those that use the intellect are noble, high, spiritual, holy. This archaic vision of good life as "growing upwards" has almost penetrated the entire Bible, despite the hard struggle in which the prophets, the books of wisdom and Jesus have engaged with it. And, with the help of a spirit of Greek philosophy and Gnosticism, we found ourselves in a Middle Ages and so in a very unbiblical modernity, with treaties of mysticism that read spiritual life as a climb of the "beloved mountain", as an accumulation of mystical goods, a fight against the body and the flesh. We have therefore extended the law of upward growth also to spiritual life, imagined as an increase, an ascent and liberation from the body to fly lightly in the sky of the spirit.

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Truth Is Not In Success

Surpluses and misalignments/5 - Vocation is an experience good and should be "consumed"

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 30/09/2018

Eccedenze e disallineamenti 05 ridI am pure, I am pure! These words that the dead of ancient Egypt carried with them as a viaticum for their last journey are perhaps suitable for the mummies of the necropolises, but no living person could pronounce them in good faith.

Vladimir Jankélévitch, The Pure and the Impure (rough translation)

The first and most precious dowry that those who join in a community bring with them is the experience of the voice that called them. The nature of this wonderful dialogue, made up of a few words and a lot of body, is the spiritual fingerprint of the person. It is formed in the "mother's womb" and then does not change for the rest of one's life. Even if there are wounds, the skin grows again with the same unique and unrepeatable characteristics. And it is not unusual that when we met a person in the time of their first vocational encounter and then again after decades: although they have changed a lot, before recognizing them in their changed somatic traits we recognize them from the spiritual imprint that has remained in them beyond the events that have transformed their body and soul. Indeed, we can become very different, sometimes even very ugly, but that imprint is there, it will be there in us until the end, and even if we decide to cancel it or remove it through surgery, it remains tenaciously, waiting for us faithfully, being more faithful than us.

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Mystery is Not a Profession

Surpluses and misalignments/4 - Follow the naked voice, docile to the hand covering the eyes

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 23/09/2018

Eccedenze e disallineamenti 04 ridThe Master said, »At fifteen I set my heart upon learning. At thirty, I had planted my feet firm upon the ground. At forty, I no longer suffered from perplexities. At fifty, I knew what were the biddings of Heaven. At sixty, I heard them with docile ear. At seventy, I could follow the dictates of my own heart; for what I desired no longer overstepped the boundaries of right.«

Confucius Quotes

Ideal and spiritual communities can hope to become authentic places of human blossoming if they manage to walk on the brink of their own disintegration. When, on the other hand, the fear of the possibility of one's own end becomes too strong and prevails, the life of the members withers due to a serious lack of air and sky. Only the ridges of the high altitudes allow the view of landscapes that are wide enough to (almost) satisfy the desire for infinity that pushes people with a "vocation" to offer their lives to communities to which they entrust essential pieces of their freedom and interiority. But as soon as the caravan loses altitude in search of safe bivouacs where to fix the tents, the places and horizons immediately become too narrow: we just have to dismantle the camp quickly and resume climbing. On the ridges there is a risk of slipping and falling, but it’s only from there that you can touch the sky. Many communities have become extinct simply because they tried to make their people really live (and, sometimes, a sprout reappears rising again from the broken trunk); others have survived because they have never begun to live daring a full life. Christianity was born out of the disintegration of its first community. Jesus saved his own because he did not "save" them by bringing them to safe and well-guarded places. He slipped into the underworld, and it was from there, in the amazement of all, that he began his resurrection.

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The blessing of the acorns

Surpluses and misalignments/3 - You may leave as a son and return as a father and mother

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 16/09/2018

Eccedenze e disallineamenti 03 ridHe had the docility of wood. He was no longer a walking tree, as the blind man of Bethsaida had revealed to him, now he was planted in the ground and all his steps taken ended there with his feet joined and arms wide open like branches. Golgotha is a skinned hill, without vegetation. On its top now a man-tree sprang, grafted in blood.

Erri De Luca, Indagine su un falegname (“A Study on a Carpenter”; rough translation)

Throughout their existence, people develop many more dimensions than those useful to the community in which they live and grow. Because the "task" we have to perform in the world always exceeds the institutional mission of our organization or community, which remains smaller, however great and extraordinary it may be. No institution is bigger than a single person, because while the collective intelligence of a group or community can solve cognitive problems that are much more complex and richer than those that the individual intelligence can see and think about, the soul of a person is increasingly more complex and richer than the "soul" of the community.

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Community: an experience of returning

Surpluses and misalignments/2 - Go, get infected and renew the alliance

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 09/09/2018

Eccedenze e disallineamenti 02 ridCoi vecchi nostri canti che sai, voci di cose piccole e care, t’addormiremo, vecchio; e potrai ricominciare.
E quando il mare, nella tua sera, mesto nell’ombra manda il suo grido, sciogliere ancora potrai la nera nave dal lido.
Vedrai le terre de’ tuoi ricordi, del tuo patire dolce e remoto

Giovanni Pascoli Il ritorno

At the heart of each person there is a mystery that is revealed, and only in part, during the whole of life, not infrequently in its last part. Even people with many talents, even those who are truly brilliant, find themselves in a state of partial and imperfect knowledge of their own "charisma", their untapped potential, their self-deception and past and present illusions. Therefore, when a person encounters a voice that calls them and their life undergoes a radical turn, if they respond and begin to walk they do not and cannot know what the development of that encounter will bring, what its fruits, pains and great surprises will be. In a marriage, in an artistic or religious vocation, the wonderful part is the unknown and infinite potential. We do not know what we will become, what the other we tie ourselves to will become, what our relationship will become. What God will become.

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The many colours of the swan

Surpluses and misalignments/1 - Infinity is the value that leads beyond fear

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 02/09/2018

Eccedenze e disallineamenti 01 ridBlack Swan logic makes what you don't know far more relevant than what you do know.

Nassim N. Taleb The Black Swan

The "black swan" is that highly improbable event with very relevant effects whose arrival could be neither foreseen nor explained on the basis of the facts of the past. The expression comes from the discovery of black swans in Australia, which disproved the thesis that had been considered certain: "all swans are white". In fact, the black swan is the great enemy of companies and organizations, too, because of its potentially devastating effects.

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