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A river once flowed here

A river once flowed here

Climate change. Two words we have heard mentioned for so many years and yet only now do they seem to have gained meaning for each of us. The images of the Po running dry and the Marmolada glacier were a slap in the face. One of those slaps that makes you wake up from a strange numbness…it reminds me a bit of what happened in 2020 with Covid 19. As the guys in the video on this blog would say, “we needed a pandemic to realize we were wrong.”

However, I also find a difference there: with the pandemic, almost everyone (politicians, intellectuals, economists, and much of the population) trusted doctors and researchers who worked to the point of exhaustion, in some cases even with their lives, to stem the contagions and find a cure and vaccine. While with climate change, it is a different story. It seems there is always something more important to do before we look for a solution, and the various governments (particularly ours) are looking for palliatives or doing something else, and this is staggering. It is staggering because doing nothing notwithstanding an obvious thing takes away people’s hope.

This inertia and blindness give me the feeling that I am too small and alone to be able to do anything and that I have to passively suffer the bad choices of those who would have the power to do something. I am sure I am not alone in feeling this way. And so, I wonder what idea is behind this inertia, this willingness to do nothing. Maybe the idea that human beings can only destroy? That they are ugly by nature and so they make their surroundings ugly? This may be one reality, but it is certainly not the truth of the human species. For example, if someone lives in a state of neglect, treats his or her home as a dump and neglects himself or herself and the place where he or she lives, social services are activated and often the psychiatrist also intervenes because if a person no longer cares for his or her environment, it is a sign of illness. So, it is mental illness and not physiology of the human mind. So how comes that if we do it collectively it stops being illness and becomes normality? And why does normality then become impossible to change?

A few days ago, I was in the countryside with a dear friend and he looked at a bee inside a flower and said, “how cute.” A simple statement, even commonplace if you will, and yet it raised questions to me. What are we making disappear and to get what in return? Perhaps we are not only killing nature but also our tenderness. The ability to notice a simple thing and think it is important. Are we throwing it away for the new cell phone, the seven o’clock spritz and the canned food? Do we write it off every morning bottled up in traffic with the engine running? Are we sure that it is impossible to think about change?

The younger generation is already thinking about it; they know that we were wrong. Now it is up to us to admit the mistake and answer them. We can’t tell them that they don’t understand how the world really is, that they are still too young to know what is right. After all, each of us knows for sure what is right: it is right to stop destroying, it is right to change. It is not only necessary, it is possible. And maybe in 10 years we won’t hear a child ask, “Dad what is a glacier?” “A beautiful thing, it was a thing that gave water to many streams and these became rivers. The rivers hugged the hills as if they wanted to caress them. Beside their banks quenched their thirst were forests. They unrolled like threads all over the planet for miles and eventually flowed into the sea. Now they have gone extinct a bit like the dinosaurs, but this time it was our fault.” 

But coming back to the present, there is a whole generation of pissed-off teenagers looking down on us, and not because of ephemeral rebellion but because we are not moving, we are not doing something. They feel it that ours is not just laziness but disinterest. Once we had inside their same spark, the one that makes you look for others and think that together you can not only grow, but maybe you can even change reality. Now we have to be simultaneously rebellious teenagers and responsible adults, tender as children and sensitive as women, but with the strength and tenacity of an experienced man. Now we have grown up, now we have to change this reality.

Gioia Piazzi


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A river once flowed here