The Mystery of Life and Reality

by Giovanni Mulazzani

The Scholè center in Bologna (Italy) was packed full of high school students for two hours of dialogue with Professor Boschi and Fr Cervellera, to try to understand what had happened and to fight lapsing into indifference

On January 14th, the Bologna Scholè center, a club for study as discovery, was packed full with high school students for the meeting, “The Tsunami and Us,” promoted by Student Youth and the Bologna Student Association, with the support and collaboration of the Provincial Student Council. The featured speakers were Fr Bernardo Cervellera, a missionary of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions and Director of the Asia News agency, and Professor Enzo Boschi, President of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology. In response to the question, “What happened?” the scientist answered that nobody could have imagined such a momentous event, an earthquake 30,000 times that which struck Umbria seven years before, and a tsunami provoking a wave of immense force traveling at a velocity of over 200 miles per hour. “It is a natural phenomenon,” explained Boschi. “Our planet is alive; it’s as if someone designed it so that life could exist. The instability of the earth’s core that causes earthquakes is also the factor that enables the Earth to have a climate favorable to man.”

Fr Cervellera, who comes from direct contact with the reality of Southeast Asia, affirmed that in the face of such a huge tragedy, there emerges inevitably and in exceptional terms the question about destiny, about the precariousness and fragility of life, but also about its incommensurable value. He related that within just a few hours of the disaster, an amazing solidarity was born, and that the first to respond were the Christians.

When a student asked, “Might there be a connection between what happened and the lack of respect for the Kyoto Protocol?” Boschi almost jumped out of his chair in annoyance, explaining that no variation of the climate of the earth’s surface could explain what happened, and saying that such an affirmation is ideological and manipulative. It’s a different thing, he added, to note that Southeast Asia lacks the civil protection system present on the other shores of the ocean, which certainly would have saved many lives.

The stories of people who stayed to sunbathe only a few yards from the dead, or those who complained about not receiving a refund for their missed vacation, prompted Fr Cervellera to explain that there are two types of indifference: a stupid one, that blocks out reality in order to live as if nothing had happened, and an ideological one, that tries to manipulate what happened for its own projects and political designs. Neither position is realistic; neither places itself in front of reality, allowing itself to be struck by the “fact” without prejudices and preconceptions.
The meeting at the Scholè center helped the students not to let themselves be won over by double indifference, because Professor Boschi and Fr Cervellera helped them take a step deeper into the mystery of life and reality.