Sense or nonsense of “Human Fragility”

I was pleased to been invited to the colloquium “Sense or nonsense of “Human Fragility” in contemporary European society” at the European Parliament in Brussels.

European Parliament Brussels

The European and International Federations of the Catholic Medical Associations (F.E.A.M.C. FEDERATION EUROPEENNE DES ASSOCIATIONS MEDICALES CATHOLIQUES EUROPEAN FEDERATION
has done a great job getting very interesting speakers onto the speakers-corner. The FEAMC currently includes 22 countries and is the largest continental medical federation.

From the medical field, doctors and professors, there were also those who tried to help in the care movement, nurses, priests, nuns, as well as volunteers who try to be there to help those in need. The weaker ones of our community. Organized by Dr. B. Ars, Dr. F. Blin, Dr. B. Galichon, and Prof. D. Lambert, this conference was conducted by the Board of the European Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FEAMC) in collaboration with other institutions.
It brought together experts in social sciences, economy and politics, medicine, and philosophy. From different countries people came to share their main interest to stand up for the vulnerable.

Flag of the European Parliament 1973-1983. Lat...

Flag of the European Parliament 1973-1983. Later replaced by the common European flag. - Image via Wikipedia

Those involved in the aid-movement, social and healthcare were willing to go deeper into the aspects of were we and Europe has to go to.

Thanks to the progress on the territory of law, medicine, public health care and hygiene life expectation the last three centuries increased continuously.  Since the beginning of this 21st century there have arisen new needs on a two sided development, namely on demographic and sanitary territory, the consequence of the successful European model.  On the one hand is the greying one of the largest social and economic challenges of the coming century.  This phenomenon will have its repercussion on all political domains of the European Union.  On the other hand the life span of people with a handicap and the life span of chronic ill people increases.
Issues linked to ageing and the end of life are complex and sometimes painful. The questions surrounding this topic are sensitive and cannot have a simple response. They challenge our sense of solidarity and our ingenuity in seeking ways and means to express true compassion and act appropriately.

In a broader perspective, the accompaniment of vulnerable people and their companions, their personal and social welfare, and the full practice of their civil tasks becomes a fundamental objective of the future European society.  The indictment and the outlining of the conditions of social participation of the most vulnerable in our democratic society, prompts us till a profound reflection over the necessary means. There is hanging a prize tag on the future generation of elderly and handicapped persons  the community shall have to bare.
The activities included in the management and the establishment of conditions for the social participation of the most vulnerable people in our democratic civilization  require new thinking on ways of achieving them. If they were paid, they would represent nearly 50% of GDP according to the report of the “Stiglitz Commission” in France, which was to propose new indicators of wealth.

It is not surprising that, when we see the economic and demographic evolution, we can here from all corners, bring with urgency the burdens of the fragility to cut for who pays. We have urgently to map out the possibilities and the solutions, as well on economic, political and legal territory.

Thus it is not surprising, with such circumstances, that everywhere is observed a rise in taking into account the variable of fragility, both economically and politically or legally. Arises in this context, the crucial question of the meaning or meaninglessness of human fragility in contemporary European society. The issue is crucial, given the anti-humanist ideologies that have, over the last three centuries, dramatically marked the history of our European continent. The requirement of a not only negative legal and political taking into account of
human vulnerability, demands indeed to be rethought and translated in a pragmatic ways into realistic but innovative policies. Fiscal consolidation is essential for Europe and the long-­term financial sustainability must go together with significant structural reforms, particularly in the areas of pensions, health care, and welfare, and education systems. If this effort is measured by its cost, depending on the expenditure of health systems, it is mainly distinguished by an qualitative investment which is difficult to quantify in monetary terms.

This difficulty could stop decisions, unless it appears as an invitation to seek new ways to measure a set of activities that would have respect too for the irreducibly qualitative nature of the human dimension of solicitude, of care. This appears indeed constitutive of the processes of humanization, from the responsibility of parental relationship, through the human fabric of social and professional activities, up to the accompanying support of the

The European Parliament in brussels

European Parliament in Brussels - Image via Wikipedia

In these times of economic crisis, far from paralleling or annihilating political thought, the issues to which are confronted our European countries raise the possible emergence of unexpected solutions.
In this context, we do have to demand the  decisive question of sense or nonsense of the human fragility in the present European society.  It goes about a crucial effort against the antihumanistic ideologies that the last three centuries, on dramatic manner, have drawn the history of our continent.

Colloquium in the European Parliament Brussels

Experts are considering building a new model of society offering, for example, to transform our “hospitals”, to promote the model of “host families”, of “volunteering”, or to consider the automation of the modes of care of the most dependent people. Others hope to transform the human element by means of genetic   engineering and technology, to mitigate or even wipe out its structural vulnerability. This perspective seems however to throw in the crucial role played for thousands of years by human fragility in the emergence of social intelligence, creativity, and social-­cognitive and spiritual capacities of man.
A sensitive, but highly promising debate thus opens, if treated with the due care and the consideration required by the respect for human dignity, an eminently European concept.
So it is well to consider how to reflect on fragility can mobilize the capacity of our European countries, not to maintain, but to dare open new ways of development for our European civilization. The European Symposium “Sense or Nonsense of human fragility in contemporary European society”, was therefore held last Friday, on the  21st October 2011, in Brussels European Parliament, with the aim not only to analyse the subject, but also and especially to propose concrete and pragmatic recommendations to the decision makers of European and national policies.

We must as well on political as on legal territory, not only want to consider the human vulnerability negative, but to translate it into a pragmatic and innovating politics.  The inevitable budgetary reorganization of Europe and the financial sustainability on long term will have to be paired with important structural reformations, mainly concerning the pensions, the health care and the social protection.
In case people only want to judge those necessary efforts only financially according to its expenditure post for health care, it will come essentially as a qualitative investment that is difficult to catch in financial terms. It would be very difficult to say exactly how much the time would be beneficial costing representative  This necessary care will be difficult to put in the graphics or to be fitting financial terms. Those difficulties of non measurement could make it difficult to get it accepted. Healthcare can become affected by those difficulties and choices which have to be made by the whole community, unless she restrains an invitation  of a whole new activities on to set up a system to continue the qualitative character of the human care.  This makes undoubtedly part of the process of humanisation, going of the parental responsibility via occupation activities till the accompaniment of elderly.

We all are ware that when we try to help others we have to offer them more than any good non believing citizen would do. I would like to point out here that what would make the difference other while between a religious person and a non believer?
Reaching out to those in need we as Christians have to bring Christ’s healing to each of our fellow man. The doctors and nurses to their patients, the social and relief worker to the needy and indigent, the security officers to people passing by. All those workers in the field of the vulnerable must first learn to serve them, not as a chalice overturned, but rather as a chalice overflowing. Burn-out, frustration and profitchasing practices can deeply undermine our definitive calling. Healing ourselves is a constant work in progress.

Today we see the outcome of the profitchasing of a majority of our society. Dr. Xerri showed the negative aspects of the financial systems and the geopolitical unbalances. It is devastating to see how our overconsumption threatens 1/8 mammal with distinction. It is our society which created an attitude in which redemption yield has become the most important aim, but overlooks the efficiency of the performance. According to Mgr Pascal Ide the vulnerability has come to stand ambivalent over the juridical intervention. For that reason Dr. Bernard Ars asked us all which place is provided for the fragility and let us remember that”When I am nobody no more, I begin to become a human being.”

In general ‘lhuomo’ has forgotten to be a human person and has become just an element in our system. We drifted far away from the natural and human values. People do even not have to believe in a god, but they stay part of the creation and should see themselves as part and in relation with that creation. That connection got broken from the time of the industrial revolution onwards.

I was very pleased to hear Dr. Pascal Ide what bothers me already several years, that the mathematical thinking of the past generation took away all reasonable thinking. Reason is not almighty to our relation to nature. The Austrian logician, mathematician and philosopher thought that mathematical logic was “a science prior to all others, which contains the ideas and principles underlying all sciences.” It is our concentration on the mathematical side which got us astray from the human side. As Professor de Woot indicated, we got a market-economy based on finance where social inequality increases. Economy became more and more detached. It became without regulation and without ethic. Because there has come a situation where there is no ethical view any-more our world has become a-moral.

Our contemporary world wants to make as much profit as possible, but not to get a purposeful profit or goal-oriented return with value. Everything got over regulated on national but also on European level, but not with a world regulation. The expansion is not regulated globally. Our system has, according to professor de Woot, coming to work in a vacuum in which the vulnerability increases. The radicalisation of the neo-liberal model more and more focussed on the market economy could only bring out a derailment. The fast growth could not bring a good development but brought a danger to our planet. It is also illegitimate to find that in the U.S.A. for example before the crisis in 2008 wages could differ to 800 times, while now on top of that an extra x400 times. Because the inequality and greediness of some we get millions living in poverty and 7 million people starving and dying in poverty each year. This is a terrible holocaust brought about by our system.

According to Dr. Jean Guillem Xerri we should look hos we want to continue in our consumption and in our technological objectivity, choosing for perspectives. Our welfare state may be moribund, but by  economy measures and stronger requirements for quality and specialisation we could come to a community which can be efficient and profitable but at the same time humane.

Is it not there that those, who call themselves Christian have to play a very important role? It are we who should take care that there is a balance between rational – spiritual and therapeutic dimensions. In this we should encounter the philosophical and ontological common grounds.

As Dr. Xerri pointed out we should believe more in our own forces, notwithstanding that we stay personally but get de-privatised. In our spirituality we should look for the need we have to retrieve.

We should retrace the human essence and should not be afraid to bring our Christian values to the foreground. According to me, we have so many problems today because it are just those Christian, but also human values which have been lost. We cannot keep everything to the market of materialism and economy.The race of concurrence does not justify our economic system that would create maximum richness. A lot of people forgetting that in the material richness it is not a secured valve for happiness.

We should take a moment from our hectic practice to stop, every once in a while, to listen – really listen – to our patient, our neighbour, our fellow-man, to hold a hand or rub a shoulder, even perhaps to share a short and simple pray together – to reach out, with our ungloved hand, and – Christus Medicus to Christus Patiens – touch the face of God.

From underneath we should, as Dr. Zaborska dares to ask, dare to speak out and awaken actively, urge the necessity of each others interests. We do have to argue the case of the vulnerable, optimizing opportunities for the elderly and handicapped, suffering or destitute persons.

Also the small, seemingly unimportant civilian has to open the gates to create a fertile ground to tackle the challenge of social policies.

For mathematicians perhaps many exact solutions which can be interpreted as cosmological models of rotating universes are known, but we do have to come to the base of the possibility to keep the creation going. The creator has a Plan with His Creation and we should play a role in it respecting all that what is given unto us and of which we can make use freely (air, water, ground, materials). Gödel said: It is “possible today to perceive, by pure reasoning” that it “is entirely consistent with known facts.” “If the world [Welt] is rationally constructed and has meaning, then there must be such a thing [as an afterlife].” (Wang 1996, pp. 104–105.)

As human beings we should try to fit into this creation as good as possible. But when we die we should leave a good world to the ones behind us, so that they could live even better than we did. Every generation should work to make the world each day a little bit better. Though we worked already thousands of years at  it and humans shall never succeed to bring it to a marvellous flawless system, we should all try to do our best to make this system work, even with our faults.  Those who believe in the Only One God do have the hope of a better world. But for them it is even more important that they take into account the ons who does not believe and has no reason to show respect for others than himself or the creation. We should make them aware of the importance of our working together to keep this world and ourselves in good form.

All the persons living on this earth shall die and shall not be able to take their material wealth into the grave. They shall be nothing with it when they are dead.

While alive they shall have to face the confrontation of the ‘culture of life’ and
‘culture of death’ which surely is one of the defining‘signs of our times’. And it was a nice witnessing we got from a member of the public who showed a photographic exposition of the new life and the end of life. Mr. Du Fournot from Namur had made some nice photographs at the Foier St. Francis and showed us how fragile life is. He had a child born at the same time that his father was going to step out of this life.

Christian health care professionals are confronted nowadays with the ‘culture of death’ mentality and its ‘professional’ activities both at the bedside and when working in the outpatient and research facilities. The ‘culture of death’ poses ‘new’ and ‘old’ moral (ethical) challenges that are encountered by the health care workers at the beginning, during, or at the end of life of their patients. Increasingly, decision making processes in health care are not left to the health professionals alone. Rather, they are co-shared and influenced by the patients involved and/or by their relatives, but also by several other important actors and professions. This provides for a challenging – albeit also possibly
helpful – multidisciplinary and pluralistic settings. This is equally true for the health care
(and health) related public policies and legislation.

Christian health care professionals – beyond the obvious requirements of possessing
high quality professional qualifications and competencies and observing high standards of
their professional ethical obligations – do have also additional, specific moral duties: namely, to become and serve as strong ambassadors, defenders, and promoters of the ‘culture of life’ in all of their professional activities and milieus: i. e. to be ‘naturally’ and genuinely ‘pro-life’. But we do also have to take care of the quality of that life, for everybody, the one vulnerable person taken by a disease or accident, but also those around the victim.

Any believer should in a supreme deity should reflect upon the ethical challenges encountered at their work and in the societies they serve (especially to make themselves
abreast with the existing Church Magisterium pronouncements/documents on the matters/problems faced), but also, and foremost, to live the lives of a strong spiritual
engagement and ‘true holiness’ trying to ‘imitate’ their Master and his deeds and attitudes
as shown in the Gospel and in the valid Christian tradition. They should keep to the ethics which congregate with their believes, and handle in the teachings of Jesus Christ (Jeshua) from Nazareth.

Though there are more non-believers than believers, those who believe should make the difference. they should also bring others to the knowledge that it are the humans themselves who have to be at the base of this world system succeeding or not succeeding to be lived in.  According to the Christadelphian Faith each one of us is himself or herself responsible. Though lots of Christians think they can blame somebody else, like Satan, as a devilish person, we believe the devil is in ourselves and we have to tackle the problems ourselves. But we can have hope in the trust we can share. We, as believers do believe we are not on our own, and we can receive help. It is with the indispensable ‘help from above’, the health care professionals may and should become the courageous ‘carriers’ and  ‘effecters’ of the ‘Gospel of Life’ at their workplace and in today’s complex,
quick-paced and ever changing world.

Contemporary medicine and health care belong to the most important areas or ‘battlefields’ of this confrontation. The ensuring quandaries and struggles include all
health care professionals and make for a lot of moral (ethical) problems they face in their
professional practice.
It is important to note that activities that are bound to and stem from the ‘culture of death’
domain are not random, or seldom, or just individual, small group, or ‘personal’. Rather, they are driven by an elaborated strategy and meticulous tactics that are planned and  exercised on international, sometimes global levels and scales, and served by concrete  organisations, institutions and a well-organised, albeit somewhat hidden leadership. Those activities attract, get and spend a lot of funds, including on professionally orchestrated media campaigns.
The followers and ‘servants’ of the ‘culture of death’ operate within the health care sector itself, but also on a scale that extends much beyond it. Their realm may and does include research & development activities, life sciences & humanities, education & training, social benefits sphere, family & youth policies, population programs, banking and financing, ‘good governance’ and so on.

Almost one-third of the Gospel tells us of Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, healing the sick and restoring the dead to life. And he gave his followers the commission “to proclaim
the kingdom of God and to heal” (Luke 9:2). All those working in the field of assistance may call themselves happy that they can make themselves useful for others. In their readiness to help they always should bare the basic laws of the creation in mind. In providing assistance they play an important role which cannot always be put in statistics and mathematical figures. As many speakers of the day showed, there has been a world were people took care of each other and where the individual came in the first place in respect to his or her environment. A world where also place was given to the spiritual aspects of our being, which in the end are more important than the mathematical materialist tangible belongings.

Therefore it is of great importance to promote “culture of life”, authentic life ideals, care
and possibilities for every human being on personal and social level, with the aim of asserting human dignity in every moment of our lives in everyday medical practice, education and science.

Europe shall have to make choices how it will be ready to provide the necessary means for the “aid to the fragile”. Shall it also want to make spending cuts in health care and shall it also want to have an eye for alternative medicine and healthcare? Shall Europe take it into account that we should find a right way for our own economy to recover and thrive but not at the cost of the vulnerable nor our environment?


European Years 2011 of volunteering and 2012 for active aging
Scientific Advisory Board: Bernard Ars MD,PhD, François Blin MD, Bertrand Galichon MD,  Prof Dominique Lambert, PhD.
With the support of the EPP Group in the European Parliament
Chair: MEP Anna Záborská, M.D.
Policy in Practice: Conferences, Reflexions, Witnesses
Friday 21st of October 2011 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
European Parliament, room PHS 3 C 050, Brussels

Welcome and Introduction: Dr. Bernard Ars, Dr. François Blin, Dr. Anna Zaborska

Speakers at the symposium: Chairmen Pr. Jasenka Markeljevic; Pr. Josef Glasa; Dr. François Blin; Dr. José-­Maria Simon-­Castellvi

Dr. Jean Guillem Xerri: Mapping and value of fragility
Pr. Xavier Le Pichon: Fragility at the heart of humanization.
Mgr Pascal Ide: The vulnerable man.
Pr. Dominique Lambert: Must we get free of fragility?
Anthropological and ethical questions posed by automation of human activity.

Dr Bernard Ars: Take care of human fragility
Dr Bertrand Galichon: About care, volunteering between knowing and knowledge.

Fr. Edouard Herr, sj: Strengths and Vulnerabilities in our economic and environmental problems.
Pr. Philippe de Woot: Fragility in the hearth of contemporary economy and globalization.
Dr. Anna Zaborska: EU policies to support the management of human frailty.

“Un débat délicat, mais éminemment prometteur s’ouvre donc, s’il est traité avec toute l’attention et tous les égards qu’appelle le respect de la dignité humaine – concept éminemment européen. Il s’agit ainsi de se demander comment une réflexion sur la fragilité peut mobiliser la capacité de nos pays européens, non pas à se maintenir mais à oser ouvrir de nouvelles voies de développement pour notre civilisation européenne. Le colloque européen ” Sens ou non-sens de la fragilité humaine dans la Société Européenne contemporaine”, qui se tiendra le 21 octobre 2011, au Parlement européen de Bruxelles, se propose, non seulement d’analyser le sujet, mais aussi et surtout de proposer des recommandations concrètes et pragmatiques aux décideurs des politiques européennes et nationales.”


Interesting to read:

Ways to Stay Young: How to Avoid Diseases and Needless Aging


  • New euro ’empire’ plot by Brussels (
    Herman Van Rompuy, the EU president who is regarded by many as too close to Berlin, angered many countries when he made confidential proposals for the creation of a European finance ministry.His plan, which has considerable backing from the growing body of EU bureaucrats who see a unified EU treasury as the only solution to the problem of countries spending more than the euro can stand, would mean a centralised body able to override national budgets and enforce cuts on profligate governments.Anything like it would be the most radical step in the history of the European Union, going further than any vision of the founding fathers who drew the line at giving away fiscal and military sovereignty.
    Political union or global collapse. That’s the choice as framed.The plan comes as European governments desperately trying to save the euro from collapse last night faced a new bombshell, with sources at the International Monetary Fund saying it would not pay for a second Greek bail-out.
  • Europe Nears Bank Deal (
    Last year, when the crisis first threatened the euro zone’s stability, leaders insisted that Greece would not default and that assistance would only be provided to countries on the brink of collapse, and at punitive cost to discourage free-riders.Now, the question is how big a default Greece will have, and leaders are scrambling to open floodgates of aid to several countries.
  • EU says 420 billion euros injected into Europe’s banks (
    “The recapitalization of European banks is something that is ongoing, it is something that is already happening,” Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly told a regular briefing.”It has been going on since 2008, it is worthwhile recalling that. The amount for recapitalization of European banks is 420 billion (euros),” he said.
  • For European Leaders, The Way Forward On Debt Crisis Remains Unclear (
    For weeks it’s been clear what the 17 countries that use the euro must do: reduce Greece’s debt burden so the country eventually can stand on its own, force banks to raise more money so they can ride out the financial storm that will entail, and show that their European bailout fund is big and nimble enough to prevent larger economies from getting dragged into the crisis.
  • David Cameron on Europe: Time to lead from the front | Michael White (
    As Cameron had to concede at PMQs only this week, it is often not Brussels “dictat” but Whitehall’s own gold-plating treatment of EU laws – plus the sillier senior judges – that cause pointless complications in our daily lives.
    What matters now is that we do whatever we can to help our neighbours in the eurozone to steer their way to financial stability and sustainable sovereign/banking debt levels that do not bring down the system. How? There is no agreement, which is the frightening part. “Break up the euro,” say the sceptics but they have no idea how to do that safely either.Remember in most cases the kind of people we are dealing with here believe that more spending cuts are the right way for our own economy to recover and thrive, that global warming has a marginal human component and that Colonel Muammar Gadaffi’s regime was none of our business.

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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11 Responses to Sense or nonsense of “Human Fragility”

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  9. marcusampe says:

    Pour répondre à la demande de nombreux d’entre vous, les orateurs ont accepté de participer à l’élaboration d’un ouvrage collectif. Ils ont rédigé, chacun, un chapitre correspondant à leur contribution.

    Le livre intitulé :

    « Fragilité, dis-nous ta grandeur ! »

    vient de sortir de presse aux Editions du Cerf et est disponible chez votre libraire habituel avec les coordonnées suivantes :

    ISBN 978-2-204-09966-0

    256 pages, 20€.

    Nous espérons, de la sorte, répondre à votre attente et vous souhaitons bonne lecture.

    Bernard Ars


  10. marcusampe says:

    Nos recherches théoriques comme nos pratiques se confrontent de plus en plus et sous des formes nouvelles à des situations que l’on peut regrouper sous le vocable de fragilité humaine.
    Si elles visent des secteurs croissants de sociétés que d’aucuns nomment du nom de « précariat », elles s’opposent dans le même temps aux valeurs et à la culture actuelles prônées : indépendance, maîtrise, performance, voire toute-puissance, toutes capables d’exclure les
    plus faibles du système du capitalisme libéral dérégulé : nous créons ces situations au risque d’abîmer les personnes et le vivre-ensemble.

    Dirigé par Bernard Ars, docteur en Médecine, agrégé de l’enseignement supérieur universitaire, bachelier en philosophie, ce travail propose une élaboration scientifique, critique et interdisciplinaire susceptible de nourrir en amont nos décisions cliniques les plus concrètes : philosophes, médecins, économistes et divers acteurs sociaux convergent vers l’idée que la grandeur d’une société humaine se mesure à la place qu’elle accorde aux membres les plus fragiles, en termes physiologiques, psychiques, éthiques ou spirituels.

    ISBN 978-2-204-09966-0
    Sodis 8296528
    256 pages, 20 e
    Disponible chez votre libraire habituel le 19 avril 2013
    Éditions du Cerf
    24, rue des Tanneries
    75013 Paris
    01 80 05 36 36


  11. Pingback: Sense or nonsense of “Human Fragility” – F.I.A.M.C.

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