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The United States is testing reconciliation after the most divisive presidential elections in the country’s recent history. From Lincoln to Pope Francis, the call to the value of unity in diversity, an indispensable condition for the construction of the common good and the progress of society.

Alessandro Gisotti

“A house divided against itself cannot stand up”. On June 16, 1858, Abraham Lincoln, then a candidate for the Senate, pronounced this sentence, inspired by the Gospel of Mark (3.25), in a speech aimed at emphasizing how the young American democracy could not stand up with half of the states allowing slavery. That speech by the future president of the United States, quoted countless times in the last century and a half, remains an ever-present warning for the American people who, since its emblem, chosen by the Founding Fathers, refer to the principle of unity: Out of many, one.

Just theunit, which “is superior to conflict” to put it by The gospel of joy, is strongly evoked in this moment after the most divisive and polarizing American presidential elections in the recent history of the country. “Now is the time for our leaders to find themselves in a spirit of unity,” said the president of the US bishops, Archbishop of Los Angeles José H. Gomez, in a congratulatory message to President-elect Joe Biden and deputy -President-elect Kamala Harris. Moreover, almost unanimously, the American media pose the issue of national reconciliation as the most urgent challenge (together with Covid-19 and the consequent economic crisis) that, from January 20, the tenant of the White House will have to face.

Significantly, on June 30, Pope Francis focused precisely on the question of unity in a message to Catholic Press Association, the North American Catholic Media Association. “Out of many, one, the ideal of unity in the midst of diversity, in the motto of the United States – observed the Pontiff – must also inspire the service you offer to the common good. This need is even more urgent today, in an era characterized by conflicts and polarizations from which not even the Catholic community seems to be immune. We need media capable of building bridges, defending life and breaking down walls, visible and invisible, that prevent sincere dialogue and true communication between people and communities ”. Words dedicated to the media, but also extendable to other areas of American society.

Of course, unity for the Pope does not mean uniformity. Also in this particular context, the image of the polyhedron comes to our aid which, in Francis’ vision, “reflects the confluence of all the partialities that maintain their originality in it”. This model is all the more valid for a nation that presents itself from birth plural: multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious. This search for unity – corroborated bysocial friendship to take up “All Brothers” – however, it is not an end in itself, but aimed at promoting the good of the person and the community. A combination, the latter, which was at the heart of Francis’ speech at the United States Congress (the first time a Pope Capitol Hill), which took place on September 24, 2015.

“If politics must truly be at the service of the human person – was his warning on that occasion – it follows that it cannot be submitted to the service of the economy and finance. Politics, on the other hand, is an expression of our irrepressible need to live together in unity, in order to be able to build united the greatest common good: that of a community that sacrifices particular interests in order to be able to share, in justice and peace, its benefits, his interests, his social life “. Then addressing directly to the US deputies and senators, the Pope stated: “I do not underestimate the difficulties this entails, but I encourage you in this effort”. An exhortation that today, in such a delicate passage in the history of the United States, echoes even more strongly.

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