What is in the man of the 21st century?
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
We again see shocking news about Polish people who are terrorised in labour camps in Italy, the country our fellow citizens go to, looking for seasonal jobs during harvest. The police organised an action called 'Promised Land' during which they set free 113 Polish workers. These Poles worked as slaves in the vicinity of Apulla. They were fenced off like in concentration camps. The guards with dogs ordered to be called 'kapo'. Those people were beaten, frightened, raped and the dogs were set on them. They worked from 3.00 am till 9.00 pm. The fact that there were some Poles among the aggressors fills us with dread. The prosecutor sent warrants for their arrest. The investigation of the police will reveal the whole truth about this appalling fact.
It is said that the camp has lasted for years. Therefore, it is unlikely that people did not know about it. Why did not the neighbouring farmers, people living in this territory, react? How is it possible that this has happened in our times when our powerful media are effective and the police have modern tools to get information? We had that problem last year and it also occurred in Italy. A lot of questions arise. But first of all it is inconceivable that in Europe of the 21st century, after the experience of the concentration camps, during the period of peaceful development, such events took place. Hundreds of people were wronged. The press says that about 1,000 Polish people were wronged. We ask important moral questions. Why and in what way do people create such a condition of their conscience that they treat others in such a way? After all we all know what the concentration camps were like, that all courts in the world condemned them as being devoid of humanity, as the worst possible attitude. And what happened with the commandment of love and respect for neighbour if there is slave trade and people are treated worse than animals. And this is not a matter of evil individuals; this is the matter of a certain system, which allows criminals to function. Therefore, our society more often than ever should raise questions about morality. We also should look for psychological conditioning of people who are involved in such illegal practices: what stimulates their actions, where they learnt such behaviour, what they did with their natural human pricks of conscience, etc. At the same time we should ask about our solidarity with those who were harmed: if someone found out about his acquaintance that something was wrong, that it might have been some crime or someone was hurt, should he not have reacted at once and informed law enforcement bodies? Unfortunately, in Poland we sometimes witness solidarity with criminals and not with victims. The media report about people who were beaten in public places, about cries of abused children heard by neighbours who do not react to evil. And the nature of evil is such that if it is not restrained it spreads like a cancer and touches more and more parts of our lives. Therefore, it is time we became reasonable society, able to differentiate good from evil and able to show solidarity with the afflicted. This is a matter of conscience, including a civic conscience. Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski often spoke about that, stressing our responsibility for public and social life, for what was going on in our homeland. Today we add our common responsibility for what is going on in Europe. Thousands of Polish people leave to seek legal jobs in England, Ireland, Spain or Italy. They leave as they left before - for bread. Does it mean that as the poorest people and those who are willing to take any job they should be treated so badly?
Let us be on alert and see if our brother is not hurt. Seeing and not reacting we are to be blamed, but first of all we let evil grow. The best laws will not be effective if we do not support them.
Let us not neglect our relationship with God, either. Through the Decalogue God reminds us of the basic principles of social life and values that cannot be distorted. And let us pray for wisdom for all Poles, especially for those who leave our country to work abroad. Let us also ask for God's mercy for those who have wronged others.