Opening Greetings

Georges-Andre Chevallaz

In our day, the world is growing smaller. Distances have been shortened. Highways, railways, and airlines take us long distances to great sports events, music festivals, and congresses in a few hours. By radio or TV we can be observers instantly to events which happen thousands of miles away. International games find millions of people joining the excitement simultaneously.

Never before has the world known such unparalleled exchange. How­ever, in reality, this interaction is only an illusion. It is only a dream, a bubble. Its presence magnifies the discordancies; the distortions, the basic flaws from which the world’s tensions stem. Instead of uniting, the technology which abolished distance and brought physical unity increases conflicts in geometric proportions in relation to the concentration of the people in large masses.

In such a time as this, when we are all so accessible to each other, when research and creativity have reached such peaks, one would expect that our intellectual achievements would overcome prejudices and pas­sions. Instead, divisions and dissensions reign. Didn’t Nietzsche announce in his strange prediction “a twentieth century in which a nationalism of animals with horns would demand the selection of virile virtues”?

We have already had experiences from which we have not learned, but rather collective self-destruction has been stimulated. One cannot get rid of the impression that many of the diplomatic colloquies are nothing less than elegant dances with the polite purpose of deferring the brutal shock which is stubbornly approaching.

Therefore we appreciate the calling which gathers you here, the will of one spirit and of one new heart, a fraternity based on the evangeli­cal teaching.

Surely we could not fail to notice that the Gospel has served as pre­text, as excuse, as alibi for many varied secular causes, for contestable confrontation, for partisan intransigences springing violently from one side or the other, heavier loaded with intolerance than the purely politi­cal options.

But we have also the certainty, that clinging to its essence, its purity, its simplicity of teaching, its concern for the welfare of others, its aware­ness of the relativity of human concepts, Christianity goes beyond ideolog­ical quarrels, interests, and partisan loyalties. It can unite men in a spirit of mutual respect, consideration, and love for our neighbor, even though he may be very different from ourselves.

It is in this hope that I bring greetings and best wishes to your meeting from the Federal Council.

Date: 16 Jul 1974

Gathering: 1974 Lausanne

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