“Everywhere there are little groups of people coming together, a tiny movement, what I call a trickle of peacemakers. These groups are bringing people together to talk, to share, to pray together, to work together so those who have been most rejected can rise up and have a place in our world. ”
Jean Vanier is a Canadian religious philosopher, theologian and humanitarian. He was the founder of L’Arche, an international federation of communities spread over 35 countries, for people with developmental disabilities and those who help them.
Jean spent his life creating a vision of making supportive spaces for people to come together despite differences. His work for understanding living a “fully human life” has garnered attention from all over the globe. Pamela Cushing, a professor and cultural anthropologist, describes Jean Vanier’s work as a way to connect people together:
The gem of inspiration at the heart of L’Arche is that mutual relationships with those who are vulnerable open us up to the discovery of our common humanity. In this way, he names human imperfection as a gift, and an opportunity. Imperfection and weakness can draw people closer together, for instance in solidarity around someone who has been hurt and needs help. Vulnerability can move others to give more of themselves, or to open up and reveal their own shortcomings. Strength and mastery can be impressive, yet they tend to divide people in competition and the regular disappointment of not measuring up.
Jean Vanier was inspired by a biblical passage that declares that the poor are “blessed.” Through his work, Jean has made it known that every person is blessed with important gifts to offer to others and that we can create a peaceful society when everyone’s gifts can be recognized and have an opportunity to be shared.