2022-05-21 GENERAL HOUSE

21 May – World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

To speak about cultural diversity is to speak about reality. To speak of reality is to speak of concrete elements, relationships, interconnection, and moments of encounter and disagreement. We should not remain at the theoretical level. Culture provides us with a way of expressing who we are, it helps us to understand ourselves and others better, it offers us a refuge to go to for rest, and it opens us up to a relationship with those who are different. A culture that manifests itself in art, literature, cinema, music, language, and also in religion.

During the time of the pandemic, we thousands of cultural events were cancelled, hundreds of meetings to share cultural richness, and how the main cultural and historical places were deserted. These are great examples of how our daily lives have been affected. As human beings we dialogue, we relation, we have the need to encounter, to share with others, to show how we are and how we understand each other. So our lives have been affected, our relationships have lost richness, and also many economic sectors have lost dynamism. All this has also had a negative impact on the development of certain social groups and certain peoples and communities.

The richness of cultural diversity was recognised by the United Nations as early as 2002. Since then, with the declaration of this day, we are invited to look more deeply into the most important values behind cultural diversity. The United Nations want to raise awareness of the importance of dialogue, they want each person to be able to commit themselves through real and daily gestures, to eliminate possible positions of power of some groups/cultures over others.

Marists, builders of bridges

As Marists of Champagnat, we also join this current that seeks to value the diversity and richness of each culture and its cultural manifestations. In a certain sense, Marcellin was also prophetic when he told us, “all the dioceses of the world enter into our vision”. Similarly, the 22nd General Chapter reminded us of the importance of promoting life “in all its diversity” (1st Call). What is it if not to be bridge-builders? How can we walk with children and young people on the margins of life if we are not able to open ourselves to their reality, to understand them in their own culture? If we fall into the temptation of approaching children and young people in a paternalistic way, we will not be really approaching their own reality, their own way of understanding and living life.

On this day we would like to invite you to become aware of all the positive things that diversity and dialogue bring. We want to leave behind the stereotypes and populisms that lead to the exclusion of those who are different. As Marists, we have the great opportunity to live and educate thousands of children, adolescents and young people so that the affirmation of our own culture does not mean rejecting those who are different, so that they can (and we can) discover the richness that other ways of understanding life bring us.

Let us remember what the General Chapter also said: “Interdependence… must be the new normal for us. We will be witnesses of unity and hope”. Emotional geography invites us precisely to discover and value the other through appreciation and empathy, it brings us closer to a more fraternal relationship, it encourages us to feel like a global family. When we emotionally connect with others, even in the most distant places in the world, we feel and experience others as brothers and sisters.

Cultural diversity “forces” us to be open to the other, to the different, to what is different, to another way of thinking, doing and living. Cultural diversity “forces” us to dialogue. Do you dare to make the journey towards cultural diversity? Do you dare to let yourself be challenged by the other? Do you dare to leave “our comfort zone”?


Br. Ángel Diego – Director of the Solidarity Secretariat


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