by Luigino Bruni
published on the Avvenire on 23/08/2011
It was impressive to see in these days, the stark contrast between what happened at the WYD in Madrid and the turbulence, uncertainty and fears of the markets and politics. The stage was always the same: Europe and the world, but how different the feelings, the excitement, the scenery, the colors, the joy. On one hand, the weakness and inadequacy of politics, the dominance of the strong powers of finance, the lack of growth and development, the great debt also due to the lack of hope and confidence were celebrated; on the other, life, hope-faith-trust (fides), enthusiasm, the joy of living were celebrated. In fact, those young people and this church do not live on another planet; they are no less concerned and involved from the economic-financial events of these difficult times: what is profoundly different is the "look," and the point of view from which we observe the reality.
Young people, in fact, are not only, as is often repeated (a little paternalistic) the future of our society: they, also and above all, live and interpret the present, today, and the history in a different way. Young people have a perspective on the world, eyes that see things different from those who no longer is young or not yet. The young people were at the head of the largest movements of epochal change: the young fathers of the resurgence, young protagonists of '68, and millions of young citizens who for thirty years with the WYD are changing the world in their own way.
There is now a big global "youth question," which is also one of the causes of the crisis, ethical as well as economic, we are experiencing. Not only that young people remain more and more outside the world of work (more often one finds work when no longer young), but they are outside the places that matter, from the economy, politics and institutions, to the point that we had to invent associations of young industrialists, young entrepreneurs, young political parties… as if to say that normal economics and politics are matters for the older. We are loading them of unsustainable public debt, plundering the environment, and above all with our cynicism, we are depriving them of hope, which is the fuel that powers life, more especially, the youth.
We (finally) agreed that there should be female quotas in the board of directors of large companies, because we realized, data in hand, that in firms where female genius is at work there is not only humanity but also more efficiency and wealth. When will we establish "young units" in businesses, economics, politics? Young people, in fact, bring enthusiasm, generosity, prophecy, courage that are essential foods for any good society, and that when they are missing everything becomes dark and sad. Of course, in a decent society there would be no need of either female quotas or youth quotas, but today in Italy and much of the old west, we are still far from this decency, and similar artificial mechanisms may serve democracy and development.
The economy is a piece of life, so it keeps all the vices, but also all the virtues and passions, this is why without the young protagonist neither the economy nor the society will function. Perhaps this is also one of the messages to what has happened in Madrid these days.
see more comments by Luigino Bruni on the Avvenire: Listen to young people, choose well. The Tobin Tax lost for 10 years (19/8/2011) A Nice Long Road (12/8/2011) The Deadly Embrace (7/8/2011); The Cows of Finance and Us (2/8/2011); A Jubilee for Italy (24/7/2011)