“Even in the darkest times we have the right to expect some illumination which won’t come from theories and theoretical notions, but rather they may come from an uncertain and hesitant light some men and women, in their lives and with their work, will ignite almost in any circumstance and will diffuse during the time which has been conceded to them”. These noticeable words by Hannah Arendt are particularly critical to introduce a very sensitive issue may be placed at the base of the contradictions of the present perverse models of economic and social development. Too often we feel like powerless “spectators” facing irresponsible consuming models, environmental degradation, ethical and political irresponsibility: we realize the problematical dimension of the situations we are forced to live in, but we keep on feeling like spectators who know (or sometimes prefer not to know) to be unable to change these problematic situations. Even more shocking is to verify the same sense of incapability also in decision makers at local, national and international level: many times I had the occasion to discuss with more or less relevant political figures in Italy and I have been told, when I tried to ask for their political commitment for example on the issues of sustainable rural development; “Good words, but what can I do? All this cannot be put in practice because politics follow different paths and there are too many interests involved”. Finally the paradox is that the persons who should be directly engaged (and paid) in pursuing the public wealth, cannot do anything having to find always some compromises. This means that also the persons staying “above” cannot do anything: we are on a train going at a foolish speed on a dead end without a driver! This is likely to be even more dramatic thinking about those many crimes continuously made against the environment, public health, food contaminations and drugs speculations, etc.: we all know that the present situation is driving us to a fatal end but in the meanwhile we prefer to survive in an irresponsible present.
Politics are only focused on short run issues, due to election pushes, while the problems of public ethics, environment, sustainable economy, security, social inclusion and cohesion, human rights, are essentially cultural issues requiring long term actions; this time-gap always emphasizes the inefficiency, incapability and low profile of those promoting these interventions from above increasing, at the same time, in the public opinion the idea: we are facing epochal issues, such as the global warming, but nothing can be done! The final conclusion is that schools are no longer manageable, public health is no longer manageable, the organized crime is no longer manageable, Neaples is no longer manageable, climate is no longer manageable, etc. I believe that a certain kind of politicians in Italy may survive only thanks to this widespread feeling of impotence which on the contrary represents the main knot to be solved before any discussion about a more or less correct economic or social model of development: even before legality, environmental sustainability, energy, etc. it is necessary to re-gain a sense of individual and collective responsibility together with a conscious will to try at least to manage the processes which we are immersed in. The critical bias of the whole discussion is linked to the possibility to reconsider a “society” as a “common property” within which anything I do, in one way or another, “matters”. This conscious re-gaining is an essential step to give a sense to any political and social commitment.
Every morning I wake up or just before sleeping in the evening, I wonder: what’s the meaning of my efforts (including this blog…)? What’s the meaning in buying a (even if efficient) ugly Toyota Prius, when my neighbour use a giant SUV which consumes and pollutes like a coal power plant? What’s the meaning in being engaged in many cultural activities for local communities when the commonly shared ideal way of life is Eurodisney? What’s the meaning in defending typical or organic products when my neighbour pretends red tomatoes in winter? What’s the meaning in insisting with these issues causing me only a lot of enemies, blocking my career and creating a lot of problems even at political level? Should it be better to think only about my own business as many others do? Honestly I haven’t find good answers to these questions yet: however I keep on going forward as usual. Just a flashback to the Hannah Arendt’s words: I’m always more convinced that a possible positive real change never will fall from above but it will be linked to many small actions of many common people. Forget mega-projects and mega-initiatives and rather try, as V. Havel wrote, to make the “power of powerless people” emerge in the long course of the chain of the every “little thing”. Just believe it.