From Habeas Corpus to Habeas Mentem. For a comprehensive protection of human rights
a) Greetings, thanks and presentation of the ALU
ALU is an association based here in Switzerland, a country with a long humanitarian tradition and a tradition of defending both human rights and those who defend them. The main purpose of our association is precisely to “defend, promote, document and support Human Rights at an international level by contributing, among other things, to the dissemination and implementation of international declarations on the subject”. These objectives are obviously pursued in several ways; this conference is one of them. Another way, which many of you will certainly have already appreciated, is the possibility of making use of legal instruments, such as the notice to be sent to employers or professional Orders that intend to make vaccination against Covid-19 compulsory. The best way to find out more about our association is to visit our website, which I invite you to visit.
Our Association is open to everyone, including non-specialists. As I myself am not a lawyer and do not know the law in detail, I was wondering how best to introduce this event with such distinguished participants. Well, I would like to reiterate some concepts and express some of my opinions and convictions on human rights and the times we live in, accessible to all those with a minimum of common sense.
I therefore start from the assumption that many people, obviously and unfortunately not all,
have an almost innate sense, at least in its simplest and most concrete form, of good and evil.
And so, like many people, I try to carry out my work and the various activities in which I am involved, honestly and according to my conscience. But so that this “conscience” of mine is not a simple jolt of my own selfishness, it is important, I would say necessary, that everyone takes the time to investigate and reflect for a moment, referring to different sources – obviously as far as possible for each one – so that our “conscience” can be the result of our full and conscious adherence to the Truth.
The Truth. Quid est veritas? Pilate asked himself.
In fact, Aristotle had already partially answered him by stating that truth is “to say of what is that it is, or of what is not that it is not”. The true and the false are therefore not in things, but only in our thoughts. In other words, in the words of St Thomas, who also takes up Aristotle, we can say that Truth is something that belongs essentially and primarily to the intelligence: it designates the relationship of adequacy or correspondence that the intellect has with the being of a thing.
The anecdote, true or false as it may be, attributed to St. Thomas is relevant in this regard. It is said that he placed an apple on his desk at the beginning of his lectures, claiming that it was an apple, and at the same time inviting those who did not agree with this statement to leave the classroom.
We could discuss at length the many philosophies that contradict these theses. I remain convinced and inflexible: I do not live in a dream or a nightmare. I live concretely and with my senses I can investigate the surrounding realities. In this sense, the apple of St Thomas, is an invitation to concretely adapt, now, here, in front of this screen, the intelligence of us all to the reality of things.
If we do not agree on real and concrete facts such as this, if our intelligence and our common sense do not come to conceive the concreteness of things, how can we discuss and resolve far more important and urgent problems? St Thomas is considered by many to be the philosopher of common sense, and never before has there been such a need, at all levels of society, to return to reasoning and acting according to sound common sense.
In fact, the argument does not stop there. If we don’t know what an apple is and even question its existence, we don’t know who man is either. So how can we talk about human rights? The danger is that our discourse will only be based on emotions, which are changeable and contradictory, or perhaps not even that.
In fact, I don’t know if it’s just my impression, but it seems to me that true human rights are under serious threat, at a time when a surrogate form of law would even like to extend these rights, watering down their substance and introducing new ones that are perhaps not really human rights. I am thinking, for example, of laws equating primates with humans. In Spain, for example, they go so far as to claim that it is a crime to cause abortions in gorillas, whereas human foetuses enjoy no such protection!
I also note that in history – Solgenitsin spoke of this in reference to the last century – the further man moves away from God and denies His rights, the more human rights are trampled upon. I know that this statement can be provocative, but in reality it is nothing more than an invitation to put the Truth back at the centre of our lives. Only by fighting for the Truth can we win.
It is precisely for this reason that in the fight to defend human rights, we must fight to defend the Truth itself, and the many truths that follow from it: scientific, historical, ethical, philosophical.
If we speak of struggle, however, it is only right that we also know the enemy. Only a naive person goes to war without knowing the enemy. Well, it seems increasingly clear to me that the enemy of human rights and human society is precisely those who do not appreciate and value the truth. That is why the enemy’s favourite weapon is lies, falsehood, deception, propaganda. That is why the enemy does not neglect the attempt, certainly not ineffective, to neutralise our intelligence with the help of fear and acts of true psychological terrorism. And the defenders of human rights know that sometimes, once all other means have been exhausted, force and violence are used.
But stronger than all this is my confidence in the presence among us of strong and courageous people – and those who will speak to you this evening are among them – who do not retreat in the face of danger and who in so doing will be the instruments, in my humble opinion, with which God will restore the Truth among us, for us and with us.