‘Participating in a common work’

 

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By Emil Constantinescu, former president of Romania and Habitat for Humanity volunteer

Editor’s note: The former president of Romania, Dr. Emil Constantinescu has been involved with Habitat for Humanity in Romania since the Euro2007 Habitat Build. He traveled with Romanian volunteers to Pascagoula, Miss., in 2008 for the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project and has been a strong supporter of Habitat’s work in the years since. Dr. Constantinescu shares his thoughts on the nature of creating lasting change.

Following the traditions of secularized thinking, most international associations and foundations that dedicate their activities to promoting sustainable peace and understanding in the world seek to identify the lowest common denominator upon which we can agree.

But the solidarity we need to create lasting change comes not only from common understanding or even a shared sense of compassion, but from participating in a common work in the service of a common ideal. I am drawn to the work of Habitat because it rebuilds that idea of human solidarity, even as we are building houses.

Saint-Exupery said that to love means not to look at each other, but to look together in the same direction. The question is from where do each of us begin this inner journey? The answer is to start from where we are, focusing on love and not hatred, on understanding and not disunion.

I believe that we should aim higher than any lowest common denominator. If we want to achieve true peace and understanding between people, we should focus on a higher common denominator: on God inspiring us all, no matter the name we give him in our language or in our faith.

Each of us is called upon to understand the significance of our lives and, above all, to understand God’s place in our soul. A lasting change is the one that starts within each of us.