Looking around us, we can sadly realize that the kind of world where we live is anything but fraternal. Power is what prevails and this establishes, from the onset, a division between those who have power and those who do not.
It is all about power domination — political, economic, ideological, media, family, and other types of domination. From this division, all sorts of inequalities are born: some people impose themselves on others. The majority are placed on the lower floor and a few on the top.
Inequality means ethically unacceptable social injustice. For people of faith, social injustice represents a sin against the Creator because it offends God and all of our Creator’s sons and daughters. Therefore, we are subdued by a situation that does not please us and does not please God either.
Great is the human search for a free, egalitarian, just, and fraternal society. In the name of such a society, great revolutions were made — always defeated, but never definitively overcome because the human yearning for freedom, equality, and fraternity is undying. There will always be people and social movements that will keep this dream alive and try to make it real in history.
Many reasons underlie fraternity. First of all, we are all bearers of the same humanity regardless of origin, skin color, religion, and worldview. We all have the same basic genetic code, present in all living beings: the same 20 amino acids and the same four nitrogenous bases. Said in pedestrian language, we are built with 20 different little bricks and four types of cement.
When the bricks are combined and amalgamated by the different types of cement, biodiversity comes to life. That is to say, there is a real bond of brotherhood and sisterhood among all living beings and particularly among humans. Fraternity is universal, nature included.
Another reason for fraternity is the fact that all beings, including humans, have something in common: we come from the clay of the Earth. Homo, human being, comes from humus, good and fertile land. Likewise, our biblical ancestor Adam derives from adamah, which means arable and fertile land. From this clay the Creator drew us and molded us like God’s creatures, all in solidarity with one another.
These common roots cry out for us to live in universal and unlimited fraternity. This was Jesus’ dream, and He warned us that no one should be called a teacher because we are all brothers and sisters.
Fraternity without borders was the burning search of Saint Francis of Assisi, who called all beings in nature by the sweet name of brothers and sisters. He went to Egypt to talk to the Muslim sultan because he wanted a universal fraternity that implied the inclusion of both Christians and non-Christians.
It is the great dream of Pope Francis, who wrote the courageous encyclical Fratelli Tutti in response to a globalized world that creates associates rather than brothers and sisters.
In today’s world, founded on the power-domination over people and nature, universal fraternity does not find its conditions for realization. However, although it doesn’t exist yet, universal fraternity can be a permanent attitude, a way of being, a spirit that pervades all relationships between people and between institutions, of equal and cooperative participation.
To do this, we must renounce power-domination and embrace humility, not as an ascetic virtue, but as a way of soaking our roots in the same humus from which we humans and nature guarantee our existence, seeing each being and each person as a brother and a sister, with the same origin and the same destiny. Love, care, and a deep sense of belonging rule among brothers and sisters.
Due to the serious threats that weigh on our overexploited Mother Earth and the tearing of the social fabric of nations, fraternity without borders, as a new type of presence in the world, can save us.
This book, Habitar a Terra: qual o caminho para a fraternidade universal, (“To Inhabit the Earth: The way towards universal fraternity”, in free translation), aims to foster a discussion on the urgency of social love and universal fraternity, at least as a way of being kind and removing the will to power-dominate over others. The book also hopes to help create a bond of affection and care among all in the natural world and the human world.