France – Fr Petitclerc: "Fostering dialogue and not violence"

28 December 2018

(ANS - Paris) - The protest of the "yellow vests" has not stopped in France, ready as they are to return to the streets on the last weekend of 2018. Fr Jean-Marie Petitclerc, SDB, educator, expert on the banlieues and founder of the association "Le Valdocco" offers his point of view on this situation. Here is his testimony.

"Seeing violent minorities in action is not new. Seeing looters who take advantage of the chaos to steal and seize luxury goods, this is not new. But to see all these men, women, young people, students, united under the name of 'yellow vests' in an escalation of violence, this is – yes - a new fact. And it's disastrous for the new generations.

Facing violence

As a Salesian educator, specialized in working with young people in difficulty, I have often faced violence, either individually or collectively. For this reason, two points of strengths of my work as an educator have, since always, been to teach young people to give voice to their discomfort instead of expressing themselves through violent acts, and to encourage them to respect the law, which forbids the use of violence as a mode of action.

For a culture of dialogue

This is why I am dismayed when I see that these 'yellow vests' use violence to express their anger rather than working together to develop a series of requests to be passed on to political authorities.

I fear that these adults have lost sight of their educational mission to the younger generations.

In the past few centuries, here in France, the idea has spread that only a violent struggle can lead to the affirmation of rights, but today I am convinced that one should hope for a culture of dialogue rather than violence. And it is important to bring this message to all young people.

At the same time, democratically elected political leaders must not forget that listening to their fellow citizens must always be their first duty. Is this not the only possible way out of this crisis that leads to such unconstained violence?

The challenge of peace and fraternity

The path we have to travel with today's young people is always that of education, to teach them to always encourage listening and dialogue rather than violence.Only in this way can we advance the cause of peace and fraternity."

Source: Don Bosco Aujourd'hui


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