The Courage to Say “I”

20·25 august 2021 | 42nd edition | Fiera di Rimini

The title of the meeting is “The courage to say ‘I’.” It is a quote from the “Diary” by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. In these difficult and troubled times, where there is an ongoing debate on the scientific, economic, social certainty and seemingly acquired lifestyles, we believe it is crucial to focus attention on the freedom of man and on his vocation to build a more humane world.

Many are experiencing the current situation as asphyxiating and suffocating: a growing sense of loss is affecting the entire world. The consistence of reality seems to struggle in a new wave of social decline, of economic and political uncertainty, which the pandemic has boosted: the way you relate with people, with the various activities and daily circumstances, is increasingly weakened. Apathy and boredom alternate with fear and anger and the zest for life seems destined to succumb.

The risks of a cultural and social homology relativizing the uniqueness of a person in the face of the challenges of life are visible to everyone.

But what specifically is this “I”? Is it an illusion? Is it a bundle of “different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity and are in a perpetual flux and movement” as the philosopher David Hume wrote? Or–as the Latin etymology of the word “persona” seems to suggest–a theatrical mask? Or is it an obstacle for whoever can perceive in it a factor of disturbance and destruction of the natural order of the world?

We have the sharing experience of relationship (foundational, generative, affective, with the other) as what allows the “I” to recognize itself, to be aware it exists and to search for a meaning for itself and for the world. And where does this “I” find the courage to move and to act, to expose itself, to prevent it from undergoing the circumstances of life and of this time of ours? And what kind of courage are we talking about?

And what is the relationship between the “I” and ourselves, between an individual and one’s community, between the person and society? Can the desire to live fully and to deepen our own relations still make the “I” of each one of us vibrate?

The ongoing appeals to follow new and more restrictive public health regulations are not enough to overcome anxiety and the lack of hope for the future. In order to face the pandemic and the many other challenges that life sets before us, society needs to wake up from the slumber and fear in which it has fallen back again months afterwards: the contribution of every individual, of every “I” that will be responsible, taking care of what is good for oneself and for the community as a whole.

In fact, we have discovered ourselves fragile, vulnerable, we have come to realize we need each other. This is why we believe we can start again only together, understanding the value and the significance (also of interdependence) of human relationships; this is why dialogue is the essential condition for any possible rebuilding.

At the meantime comes the need for something that continuously awakes that “I” we all have inside: It is the permanent dimension of education that we all need, to understand what is happening and to start living humanely. In fact, a crisis like the one we are going through is forcing our “I” to go back to the essential questions; if we want to start again, they mustn’t be censured.

This is why we wish to encounter the witness of people who, by not censuring their own “I”, don’t stop asking questions and who can communicate their experience and the way in which they face reality in the various areas where human life unfolds, in politics, scientific research, economics, education, art, healthcare, anywhere.

The Meeting offers itself to the world as a moment of encounter and confrontation for everybody, in an effort to better understand one’s self and the present situation, sharing that hope inside one’s heart, inside one’s eyes and inside one’s life, a life that is made more humane by the men and women involved, the people who have the courage to say “I”. Rimini Meeting 2021 poster 42nd edition.