The Encounter opens with music and a conversation with John Bartlett, retired FDNY fireman, and Sergeant Conor McDonald, NYPD, Patrol Service Bureau, son of the late NYPD Detective Steven McDonald.

Conor McDonald will share the story of the impossible unity that developed between his father, the late NYPD Detective Steven McDonald, and the teen-ager who shot him in 1986 and left him quadriplegic for more than 30 years. He will also speak about what the relationship with his father meant for him growing up and what it means now since his death in 2017.

- - -

The need for unity lies at the root of the whole expression of man's life, it belongs to the definition of his "I." Every great human revolution has had universalism as its supreme ideal - to make the whole of humanity one. The supreme ideal of every philosophy, too, has been the unity of mankind, a unity in which each one can be himself and yet be one with others. But no philosophy has ever been able to imagine it in a precise way and no revolution has managed to bring it about. In the end, despair destroys the revolutionary ideal because it turns out to be impossible to achieve.

The more man tries to realize his original aspiration to unity, the more this unity reveals itself to be impossible, beyond the reach of his powers. Not even the unity between man and woman, between parents and children, appears possible; one is tempted to say that this, above all, is impossible. How can we come to love others? How can we come to have compassion for others? How can we come to an experience of unity in which our need for companionship is satisfied? This need for companionship is unavoidable since it belongs to the essence of the self. So there is nothing more deceptive than the will to stay on one's own or to be alone. For in solitude man is badly off, he refuses himself. Only if the presence of another is a dimension of life, then, even though it may not be more fulfilled, at least one lives life, one accepts it. Companionship belongs to the essence of what is, to the Mystery of which all things are made... How can one say "you," and therefore say "I"? How is it possible to become one with others?"

~Luigi Giussani, Generating Traces in the History of the World, McGill, 2010, p. 33-34

<-- Back to 2018 events