On Wednesday 18 April the book ‘Zygmunt Bauman. La luce in fondo al tunnel’ (‘Zygmunt Bauman. The light at the end of the tunnel’) edited by Luca Riccardi and Mario Marazziti was presented in Rome by a number of participants who discussed the significance of the encounter between Zygmunt Bauman and Pope Francis, which is described in the book.
Mario Calabresi, the director of Italian newspaper La Repubblica, mentioned the relevance of Bauman’s thought for contemporary discussions on themes such as gun laws in the United States or migration and integration in Italy. He also emphasized the practical nature of Bauman’s thought full of concrete examples, a thought in which human beings are in the centre. If there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it is in this way that it may be found. A real light, not a light which, as a lady responded to whom he spoke the other day, turns out to be the headlights of a truck coming our way (this is, by the way, also exactly the pessimistic observation of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek in the introduction of his book ‘The courage of hopelessness’: the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel which people hopefully imagine for the future is probably the headlight of another train approaching us from the opposite direction). A real light, according to Calabresi, can be found – with a thought like that of Bauman in which real human beings and the problems of society are in the centre.
Minister of education Valeria Fedeli discussed the encounter between Bauman and Pope Francis as the encounter between a Marxist and a Catholic, because the Marxist and the Catholic world can encounter one another to work to overcome inequality in society, even if they have different ideas about this.
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia emphasized that the encounter between Bauman and Pope Francis was not a private event, but took place during of the interreligious peace encounters of dialogue ‘in the Spirit of Assisi’ in the context of an epochal crisis which Bauman would describe as the era of ‘Retrotopia’. In the Retrotopia, people choose to look backwards, they do not even want to look ahead trying to find a light at the end of the tunnel. But Bauman also described Pope Francis as ‘a gift’ and ‘a light at the end of the tunnel’ in this difficult moment, to overcome the challenges that the processes of globalization confront us with in our time.
The presentation, which also received some attention from Vatican Media, placed the significance of this book in its contemporary historical context and made a start with unpacking the relevance of the encounter between Zygmunt Bauman and Pope Francis for the immediate future.
(Images: Tino Veneziano / Community of Sant’Egidio)