Shame and Atrocity

Article published on Dec. 9, 2002
From the magazine
Article published on Dec. 9, 2002
A passionate and strictly personal outpouring from someone feeling ashamed of so many atrocities.

54 years ago the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in New York. After a war that had destroyed and knocked humankind down, materially and psychologically, people tried to recognise and define the inviolable rights of the individual, to make room for a new history and a new way lead by a greater sense of conscience, more respect and less will for omnipotence. Nowadays a horizon not too far away shows the beginning of a new war; a few months after the 'end' of a massacre begun on September 11th 2001, continued in Afghanistan less than one month ago, there are still people dying of war.

I seldom choose to write about such important issues, maybe because of humility or because I had always believed it was necessary to be particularly competent to do it, but yesterday something made me change my mind. Yesterday I understood that too many people talk obscenely and dreadfully, and therefore I felt a moral duty to 'dare' to speak of war, lead only by the common sense I think I have, by humanity and feelings that I think come before any other political and cultural competence. Yesterday I felt ashamed of being an Italian citizen, represented to the world by a disgusting and shameful political class; I repeat, shameful. I didn't pay attention to any political colour or alignment; I just closed my eyes and listened to the voices of the people speaking and their words fell as heavy as rocks, shameful without distinction.

Maybe this is one of the most difficult things to do, that is to write in a magazine like Cafebabel - whose purpose is to represent and create a strong European identity - such negative opinions about my country, even more to remind many of my fellow European citizens who will read this article, that I, like many, feel that any hope of Italy being rescued is ever further away.

Yesterday I saw during a television broadcast Gino Strada, a great man in his soul and his humility, literally attacked by some of his fellow citizens, as well as parliamentary representatives...fair faces and fair ties who, without shame but with great arrogance and without respect for such great work as his, bombarded a man, who mends pieces of humanity every day, with useless and offensive questions. To a pacifist like him, people ask which alternative he proposes to war, and I ask warmongers like them to find in this world a solution to the more devastating and horrible problems caused by war. I ask again these distinguished, learned and competent Sirs to send their own sons to war, to risk their own families, their own lives, their own countries, their own inner peace, their own homes, their own hunger, their own thirst, their own skins, and then to sit down and talk to one another with more honesty and credibility.

I fear all this, I fear them more than an unveiled dictator like Saddam, I fear this arrogance, this meanness that is slowly and latently growing in my country, that is so desperate that it identifies its own mythology in great writers who are still talking about INFERIOR RACES in the year 2000.

Why should I be more afraid of all this than Nazism, Stalin Communism or Latin American dictatorships? I am afraid of people who cry with pride in a television broadcast that luckily left-wing journalists like Biagi and Santoro have been taken off Italian television, knowing that Italy is watching them. Excuse me, but let me fear the dictatorship of my own country first and then that of Iraq. Rationally, even without any justification, I understand people like oil barons and arms producers who sustain war since they gain large benefits from it. But I don't understand Italian intellectuals and politicians. What do they get out of this support except deep shame? I thank my fellow European citizens, French and Germans, who, when possible, wake the other European countries up (and between them mine too) from the torpor and the American drug. Thanks to their view that the arrival of war should not be taken for granted, there is a small hope today that this next massacre will not be recorded in our history books.

Some days ago on the front page of the New York Times, an American journalist wrote that the Bush administration fears that the UN inspectors will not find anything...the easiest conclusion to draw is that Saddam is an Iraqi dictator, the Taliban were the dictators of Afghanistan...and Bush is going to become the dictator of the whole western world. I may be a hypocrite and a pacifist but I ask you, who are surely more practical than me, to answer with a little honesty why is Saddam the dictator of Iraq today? Why were the Taliban dictators of Afghanistan? Why are you waiting for a new war, for thousands more deaths, for a new embargo, for a new dictator elected by the Americans, to begin again as before in ten years time, when the rest of the world has forgotten about it, a new round of deaths with new motivations, new plots, new powers? Why are you afraid of bowing before a man like Gino Strada who decided to practice his profession on the borders of war? Why in this new world are the real brave ones those who are not afraid to appeal to feelings, to life, the ones who want first of all to ponder the human costs of war and then its necessities? War takes away a dictator and puts new ones in its place, war kills children and the ones it doesn't kill grow up living in hate and violence and swell the ranks of international terrorism. War doesn't save anybody, not even the pacifists. War lets you lose sense of life, the meaning of principles and rights conquered through centuries of bloodshed. War is self-destruction, it is a continuous regression, it is a cancer involving everyone...that is why I am stunned by my beloved parliamentarians when they vote for it without hesitation, without doubt, without sufferance, without thinking about the fact that somewhere there are children playing and within a few months they will no longer be able to because the Great of the earth, supported by a sea of cowards, hypocrites and superficial people who lack a love for life somewhere some time defined war as a means of resolution for a better world...let's ask these children what they think about it...but they will already be dead.