When I was very young, there were two concerns of mine, which I lived very intensively: first was the suffering of the poor, together with an internal rebellion against injustice, and second, the spiritual conviction that reality is much more than just that which we see. The conviction that this life is a time of grace, a gift; to learn, to grow in wisdom and in knowledge, to do community works, to help those in need. These elemental convictions need no fundament. To the contrary, they themselves are the fundament for everything else; yet, paradoxically, they cannot be demonstrated.

As the years have gone by, I have come to have another conviction: that the most important things cannot be reduced to mere effectiveness. These are things that we must do; things whose results we may never see. This conviction has been very important in my own life, especially in the conflict in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. If you begin things by expecting results, you can become discouraged. Why? Who is capable of modifying the large-scale international politics regarding the Great Lakes Region, for example? Since it’s impossible, or even crazy to attempt, nobody starts anything, and things stay the way they are. It’s a vicious circle, until something happens inside you and you say to yourself “A-hah! The most important thing is not effectiveness-it’s faithfulness.” You formulate that however you want to, but I have seen it repeatedly in people like Gandhi, Francis of Assisi, or Fr. Roy Bourgeois, whom I was visiting a couple of years ago, and who is trying (and just about did it) to close down the School of the Americas in the United States, where those committing genocide in Latin American were trained… read more