You know what it’s not the time for? Hatred.

Then you have a professor being really reasonable about the way England should respond to terrorism, by avoiding overreacting and focusing on Intelligence-led policing rather than military actions. Then you have that comment, which is the reason why things like terrorism happen in the first place.

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Hatred is not reasonable or logical.

Europe, we are one. Exclusion creates ressentiment, which leads to more episodes like this. Separation is not the answer. Integration is.

Never a truer word said

“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me. No, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.” – Hamlet – Shakespeare

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Thanks, Shakespeare!

The Italian Coast Guard and the Syrian Titanic

Movies are powerful. From them, we learn to love or unlove types of people or behavior. Movies teach us how to kiss and show us what kind of life we want to live. Movies make us witnesses of tragedies with all the benefits of someone who’s watching from a safe standpoint, so then we can empathize with their victims, exercising our ability to feel and check out if we are still humans.

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Not long ago, someone posted on my twitter timeline some tweets about Titanic’s tragedy. It was some visual art stuff, telling the story of that accident hour by hour. And though the visual art was all about historical facts, we still feel so touched because we saw in a movie the characters of Jack and Rose dancing and falling in love, and then sinking down in hypnotizing scenes of a giant iceberg, flood, and a magnificent ship cracking in the middle. It made us also feel horrified on seeing the treatment given to the second class people in that ship, it also made us cry when Jack finally drowns because Rose thought there was no room for two on that wooden piece of table. And we know, watching from our safe standpoint, that there was room for two. Fuck it, Rose! I can’t believe you just stayed there like a boss!

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We feel touched because these people, though they are not real, they had a face on the screen. And they had a white face. It’s easy to empathize with white people, isn’t it? Because it’s well known over the centuries that white people are humans.

On the evening of October 10th 2013, a ship with Syrian faces left  Zuwarah, in northwestern Libya, and headed for Lampedusa, only to sink next day. And it would have been just one more sad tragedy, if the audio tapes showing refugees begging for help, and being coldly neglected, hadn’t been leaked this week. It would have been only one, but now that we have the tapes, there are two tragedies: death and neglecting.

Listening to the tapes is such an agony, because those people, they didn’t have the Jack and Rose looks, but they had a voice. That voice called Italy, and Italian authorities told them to go search for help with Malta, only to be told they were closer to Lampedusa: “Lampedusa is Italy?” the voice asks. “We are dying, please.”

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Different from the world of films, reality is a place in which we lack and fail in being heroes. What does it take from us to do the right thing? What does it cost? I wonder. How much more emotion in a voice do we need to feel empathized? I say “we”, because how many times all of us are called to be the hero for someone else, and we decide no to?

At the age of 6, at school, I saw a scene: my older sister had a fight with an older kid. I had never seen that kind of situation in my life up to that moment. I didn’t know what to do, I had an intuition, a feeling that I should do something, that I also should go to the fight and defend my sister. But I was petrified. That memory haunted me for all of my life, that fight lasted literally 5 minutes, but it has lasted forever in my memories. Every time I am called up to an emergency, I get petrified for 5 minutes and only then I have a reaction. Everytime my sister is called up to an emergency, she’s the fucking hero at the right place at the right time.

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All I am saying is that all of us have our own 5 minutes of shock, but then, after this period, we got to go focus on the solution. We can’t let our 5 minutes sum up with the 5 minutes of everyone else and the 5 minutes of our country as an institution, getting totally paralyzed for whatever reasons they put in front of people lives. We have to be the hero, we have to be the characters who will make a difference in someone else’s life. I know that people who got that call, they are not a country, they only represent one, at the end of the day, they are people like us. They weren’t born Italian authorities, they were born people like the ones on that ship.

There will be moments of petrification in our lives, in which we can process the problem and finally get to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter if Italy doesn’t want refugees, it doesn’t matter if we know them, like them, want them, there has to be a moment in which we realize that we connect to them through the very basic common truth: we are humans. It’s so easy to do it at the cinema!

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Only when Malta with a white voice urged Italy to send their ship, they’ve agreed to do it and rescue the few ones still alive. But I bet they would cry if they saw the scene on the screen played by two white characters: “Lampedusa is Italy? We are dying, please.” There was room for two on that piece of table.

 

 

 

Alone Again Naturally

When I die, I will have only three questions for God:

  1. Why did I get the family I had;
  2. Why have I taken so long to overcome that breakup;
  3. Why do we have to spend so much time working down here, I mean literally 80% of our lives?

Or maybe God will have these questions for me.

Well, at the Gates of Heaven, Stephen Fry would have others, as we know: “I’d say ‘Bone cancer in children, what’s that about?’ How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?”

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If  I was God, I would answer: “Oh boy, I just gave you and all the forms of life the possibility of existing and co-existing. You tell me: why did you guys fuck it all up? You tell me about starvation in Africa, you tell me about injustice when all I gave you was a world full of potential to share and live in harmony”.

But it’s ok. I totally understand Fry’s questions and anger. I remember 4 years ago when I watched the documentary, his words only caused me total understanding and compassion.  Fry suffers from depression. The documentary was filmed in 2009, and what surprises me now, 8 years later, is not the fact that Ireland is facing some awkward modern middle ages, to say the least, with blasphemy accusations against Fry. What impresses me most is that someone really took the time to walk to the Garda Station to make a formal complaint about someone else’s imaginary conversation with God. I mean: an IMAGINARY conversation!!! What impresses me most is that whoever was capable of spending time and energy to walk personally to the Garda Station in order to make that complaint against Fry didn’t find the time to really listen to his words.

I have a friend who had depression for a long time. He tried a lot of different “solutions”. One day, he was brought to a guy who used to channel spirit and such. While he was waiting in the kitchen of that very, very simple house, the house’s owner, a very humble Christian lady, showing the most sophisticated heart that she couldn’t even imagine, told him: “It’s ok if you don’t believe in God. It’s ok if you’re pissed off with him. When we are sad, we really can’t believe in God, or if we believe in him, we hate him, and he knows that, and he doesn’t care”. That woman, with all the simplicity of her being, had the most sophisticated feelings of compassion. She made my friend feel seen and understood.

Whether God exists or not, it doesn’t really matter. It can happen also if you are a believer:  was there ever a day in which you felt totally alone? Alone not at home, but in the universe? Did you ever feel totally abandoned and deserted by whoever put you here in the first place? Did you ever feel there was no one up there watching you and no one to be sorry for your misfortunes? Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by loss and grief that you barely could breathe?

In 1972, Gilbert O’Sullivan, an Irish singer (you see!) would release the classic Alone Again (Naturally), a beautiful melancholic statement of loss, grief, and doubt. Of course, O’Sullivan would have been burned if the song had been written a few centuries ago. He only sang the same old agony of seeing so much pain around and feeling deserted by God. And ironically, when the song was an extreme hit, it was clear that it represented the collective unconscious, and for people then being able of acknowledging that agony in others, they would connect and feel less lonely, less abandoned. They would no longer feel alone in feeling alone.

It seems natural that we are here alone, abandoned, but even more when we are unable of connection, unable of being seen and understood. When that woman in the kitchen told my friend that it’s ok not to believe in God since my friend was so sad and desperate, he immediately felt God existed because that woman was there giving him love and compassion. He believed in God again, because he saw God in that woman.

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If you want to make someone believing in God, what do you do? Do you put your jacket on and walk down to the Garda Station to formalize a complaint about someone’s sad thoughts about God? Like “that’ll teach you! See you in the church next Sunday”. Or, that’s where my theory speaks: what if the one who made the complaint was himself so isolated of human (and God) connection to the point of feeling alone in his faith? Another one, alone again naturally, for when you feel really connected to God, whatever type you believe in, you are in peace with others, no matter what they think or say.

I feel sorry imagining that guy at the Garda Station’s waiting room, looking forward to complaining about Fry’s connection to God as if that was possible to heal his own connection. I picture this guy, exactly like my friend has waited for the channeling guy in that kitchen, with the same hope of being able of ending the feeling of separation between himself and the others. Sometimes, when we don’t know what to do, we do the worst we can. It’s amazing how we are always mirroring on others what we have inside, isn’t it? For you, who made your way to the Garda Station to make a complaint, I send my love and compassion.