The national and worldwide political scenario is alarming with some leaders’ worldview more focused on their personal agenda or their national interests. We ask: Where is the world going? Did the world really learn after two world wars and the Cold War?

Last July 2018, during the Genfest event at World Trade Center in Manila, the Focolare’s Youth for a United World launched a new project: “Pathways for a United World.” This is in line with the desire of Focolare founder Chiara Lubich who encouraged the young people in Genfest 1995: “We have before us an outline of the Youth for a United World Movement. What is its purpose? To contribute towards uniting the world. What is its method? To follow all possible paths that lead to unity. What is its spirit? Christ, whom each one of you will seek to let live again in your hearts by living the Word.”

In the Manifesto presented in the Genfest in Manila, the young people declared:
“This world of ours is deeply wounded by inequality, conflict, violence, natural disasters, corruption… We are proposing to progress step by step towards a more united world. How? By basing our worldview on seeing everyone as members of one world family and allowing this to impact on our relationships and actions in all spheres of life, as indicated in the formation and action program Pathways for a United World.”

This strategy inspired a 6-year global plan to highlight six specific “pathways,” focusing on one each year. The pathways are the following: Economy, work and communion (2018-19); Human rights, peace, legality and justice (2020); Active citizenship and politics for unity (2021); Dialogue between peoples, cultures, churches, religions and different mindsets (2022); Human dignity, culture of life, and environmental protection (2022); and finally, Art, beauty and social harmony (2023). The Manifesto ends with the announcement of next Genfest which will be held in Brazil in 2024.

The Manifesto also says: “We aspire to reach these endeavors to contribute towards achieving the UN’s Global Goals, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030, adopted by 193 member states in the United Nations Summit of September 2015. For this year and 2019, our focus is on the pathway of economy, work and communion, from an “econo-my” to an “econom-all.” It’s a call to a culture of sharing and giving instead of a trade war among nations.

These pathways are now imperatives for we need to focus on bigger problems that beset us today like worldwide poverty, injustice, and climate change which need to be immediately addressed if we want humanity and our planet to survive.

A very urgent issue posing a real and grave threat to the whole world today
is climate change. 2018 Magsaysay awardee Sonam Wangchuk from India, seeing the bad effects of climate change in his place in the Himalayas, painted a dire picture upon receiving the award: “The world spends 1.7 trillion dollars a year on defense. Defense in the future will not be India arming itself against China, nor China against the US.

All countries will have to pool their resources together to defend themselves from new environmental challenges and climate change. In just a year, India and China together lose roughly five million lives due to air pollution alone – lives lost without a single bullet being fired by conventional enemies across borders… And once again, in declaring peace with nature, we will have to re-design our education system to heal the planet and its people. I appeal to the leaders of the world to recognize this war and re-examine the meaning of defense in the 21st century.”

It is the same appeal that we wish our global and national leaders to address: that instead of waging war against political enemies, let’s focus on healing our Earth, our nation, and our environment.

On our part, we can support big or small initiatives that promote paths to heal our divided world and ailing planet: shifting from a consumerist to a simple lifestyle, planting more trees, doing coastal clean-ups, promoting human developmental projects for migrants, refugees and those in dire need, education towards justice and peace, empowering people to care for one another, and building universal brotherhood.

We encourage everyone to create and follow these paths towards a peaceful and united world as we only have one planet for now to turn over to the future generations.

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