New Humanity Movement

Social Harmony and Art


The shape of the city.

The city that shapes


Ideas and proposals to help us know better where we live


(Third part)

1. The city: does it still exist?
2. Cityfest: focusing on the city
3. Knowing and loving one’s city

4. Describing, exploring and imagining one’s city

3. Knowing and loving one’s city

A city’s ideal. Cardinal Carlo M. Martini wrote that “to overcome the curse or the strain of the city, or to discern in it the many blessings and the many joys, we need have in mind not an ideal city but, at least, an ideal for a city. A city made up of responsible and respectful human relationships which take the form of an ethical commitment (Verso Gerusalemme, 2004).

The pedagogy of place. Chiara Lubich has taught us to look around the place where we live, and this holds true for all parts of the world.

In the first place, the Ideal invites us to recognise the reality we are facing, including all the problems. The difference between what we see and our expectations could have different effects on us. The Italian writer Italo Calvino once wrote that there are two ways to avoid the sufferings of the hell of our cities: “the first is easy and very popular. One becomes part of hell, so that it stops being recognisable. The second needs a continuous attention and a learning curve: single out what and who, within that hell, is not hell, and allow them to last by giving them space” (Le città invisibili). We could slide down into these ‘hells’ in a sort of tolerance and thus lose our awareness of their existence, or we could proceed in the opposite direction.

Every time we walk our streets we could exercise that strategy that requires attention and which Chiara Lubich has taught us. This entails that capacity to be aware of the others, to understand their needs even when these are not expressed, and to treat each person as unique.

To look around and to listen to people are not mere external actions. They involve all our being, and they become the driving force to love and to take care of the others in need. It also means learning to look for new possibilities behind every difficulty, to see the beauty even in a urban decay.

This awareness makes us look for new ways of building relationships of fraternity, of building bridges and weaving networks. Fraternity also means that as many persons as possible are to be involved in projects aimed at the local situation. This would make it possible for persons to share their personal experiences, resulting in mutual enrichment.


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