01-05-2006 - Traces, n.5

Countering the virus of nihilism

The flyer: Penetrating the barricades

I live in Paris, and I’m studying Chinese. We have been going through a difficult time, with the unrest and strikes that have begun in the universities, but this situation has formed the backdrop for some miraculous events in my life and that of our small CL community. Everything began in the early days of the unrest, when I read, on a bathroom wall of my university, an invitation to come to a protest. It said, “We have to do something because we won’t be students forever.” This sentence hit me like a hammer between the eyes and I asked myself, “What do I propose at the university? People are writing on the walls, inviting others to protests. And me?” It was Tuesday, and that evening at School of Community we read the section about man’s problems in his search for truth. I talked about this episode, and asked for help because I needed to understand what was at stake, so I could say and propose something in light of what we are living together. So, a small group got together to give a judgment on what was happening, and maybe write something. After a week of attempts and revisions, here is the final version of our flyer.
Right away, I felt freer. I could look the absurdities and violence of the protest in the face, and what was happening meant something to me. The people going crazy on the streets have the same desire we do, to do something great with their lives, and, notwithstanding all the ideology, their giving vent to their wrath and frustration, deep down, they were speaking to us, reminding us of our desire and the answer we have encountered and are living every day.
I’ve expressed my freedom with an impetus and courage that were unthinkable before. During a pilgrimage with the Catholic youth of the Ile de France, I made my way into the sanctuary to thank the Archbishop of Paris for his sermon on the situation in the universities, to tell him that we had written something absolutely in accord with his thoughts, and that we wanted to give it to him to read.
After we had shown our faces clearly in the university with a “cut-throat” distribution of flyers, I left a lesson one day and outside the door found Stefano and Ines waiting there to invite me to have a coffee with them. Giving out the flyers was almost a banal gesture, but it made us better friends, more conscious of what we have received. The next day, as I was passing in front of the Sorbonne, I don’t know how, but I found the courage to stick my arm through the iron barricades and give our flyer to the police officers.
The beginning of a judgment that we formed together made me pay attention to everything. My heart was “knocking” and turned all my plans upside down. One morning, some of us went to the department of some CLU friends to hand out flyers. Toward the end, three young women were willing to discuss it. They took the flyer, stopped a bit further on and read it, seemed interested, and talked among themselves. I walked up to them again and asked what they thought. One answered that the question of education is nothing new, something she’d already heard before. “No, look,” I said, “it’s written here, ‘education of desire,’ because I think that the problem isn’t whether you’re well educated, if you can write a good dissertation of if you’re nice to little old ladies, but how seriously you take your own desire to build, how much you start from that desire.” I don’t know how, but I began telling them what I think of the question of desire. After a few minutes, they began crying, they were so moved. I instantly became aware of myself, the depth of my desire, and how mission is first of all fulfilling for me. On that sidewalk, I encountered Laurance, Laure, Marine, and myself. Driving home in the Parisian traffic, I felt at home as never before in the city where I was born.