Paeon to a pacifist Ferrari

Palmerston North Fr Kevin Neal4 October 2011 I’m walking back to my car after a visit to the library. I can see that there is a group of people, mostly…

Palmerston North

Fr Kevin Neal
4 October 2011

Paeon to a pacifist Ferrari Archdiocese of WellingtonI’m walking back to my car after a visit to the library. I can see that there is a group of people, mostly men, standing around on the pavement. They are excited but silent. Some are busy taking shots with their phone cameras. Nobody wants to be photographed. Just a simple picture of the object will do.

The men are all of ‘a certain age’ though there are a few women too. They’re mostly in their 30s and something of reverential importance is parked near the library hidden from my view by the crowd.

I wonder for a moment if it is a 1960s Mini – they always cause people to stop and stare but the crowd is too hushed. It has to be something else – a Ferrari. There are many vehicles – the Aston Martin, Bugatti or Lamborghini – that are just as expensive but only one car starts its own traffic jam – the Ferrari. The driver had just pulled up, grabbed a few papers and disappeared upstairs. The crowd gathered of its own accord.

Now, the Ferrari is one fast car. It will go from nought to the Kiwi speed limit in under 3.7 seconds and will keep on going to more than 320kph. That’s quick.

But it isn’t really the performance that attracts the pavement fascination. It’s because it just is. That’s all. There’s something about a Ferrari that makes some people stop and just wonder.

I don’t want a Ferrari, I wouldn’t know what to do if I had one. Maybe I’d frame it and put it on display in the library but that wouldn’t really work because they want to be driven. I don’t want one but I do want to be part of this world that makes them and machines like them. There are regular TV programmes that show people making these machines.

They probably can’t afford them either but you can see on their faces the love that goes into every stroke and the click of every spanner. Even the tyres are fitted with panache. I guess there aren’t many in this country but I hope they are treated with respect.

I think I have so much respect for them because they make a change from the war machines we see. We live in an imperfect world so I guess there have to be war machines made. Every few months we see better tanks, ships and war planes. They seem to be able to do the impossible now even making them appear invisible.

But I think of these lines –
…therefore, we declare once more: the arms race in one of the greatest curses on the human race and the harm that it inflicts on the poor is more than can be endured …. Providence urgently demands of us that we free ourselves from the age old bondage to war.
Vatican 11 Church in the Modern World.

Or more recently:
Viewed from a legal, political, security and most of all–moral–perspective, there is no justification today for the continued maintenance of nuclear weapons.
–Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the Vatican’s ambassador to the United Nations.

And I don’t think that it’s just nuclear weapons. Conventional weapons can grow to these monstrosities soon enough. These weapons can do quite enough harm and we hope and pray that NZ troops won’t have to use them.  I think that’s why I like Ferraris. As far I know that’s all their manufacturers do. They make impossibly magnificent cars. Nothing else.