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Manuel Casado Velarde, researcher of Institute for Culture and Society, University of Navarra
Loyalty and happiness
In the last few months several married couples have celebrated round wedding anniversaries: golden and diamond weddings.... They are joyful anniversaries in times like these, in which what is celebrated is just the opposite: the changing, the provisional. There is no value today that is more abused than fidelity.
Fidelity is associated with monotony, with inertia, with repetition. It evokes something automatic, mechanical. But fidelity, in order to deserve that name, is not the result of apathy or indolence, but of something profound: of respect for oneself and for others, of the value of one's word. Remaining faithful to a commitment means update every day what led us to commit ourselves. In the case of marriages, to go back, so to speak, to being engaged every day. "Love neither tires nor gets tired" (St. John of the Cross).
It is true that today's society is marked by uncertainty and instability. The employment for life no longer exists; the global Economics has accustomed us to witnessing major upheavals in the markets? All this makes it more difficult to build a coherent and more or less predictable life story. There are vital decisions, such as marriage, that are delayed for fear of an uncertain future. average The age at which people get married has long since risen from 30 and is approaching 40 for men. Everything seems to conspire against stability, permanence and fidelity.
On the other hand, we live immersed in a culture of suspicion. The big words: love, family, submission... are systematically suspected. It is thought that these are, at the very least, misunderstandings.
There is a lack of cultural supports that can serve as a foundation for stable commitments, lifelong plans and unconditional fidelity. We need to recover the global meaning of life: to know that a full, successful life is something different from a life merely decorated with successes or minuscule and passing pleasures. "The secret of human existence consists in knowing what one lives for" (Dostoevsky). That is to say, to be clearly aware of the meaning of one's life, of what makes it worthy of being lived with illusion every day.
The proximity between fidelity and happiness is not merely a formal resemblance. There is something in the content of these two words that links them, and it is perhaps easier to experience it (the happiness of being faithful) than to define or express it. In the words of Pope Francis: fidelity "protects us from self-destruction".