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Our wooden sword

6 October 2023

FAI President’s reflection after the dramatic weather-related events that took place throughout Italy during the summer, which also involved the Bosco di San Francesco, Villa dei Vescovi, Villa del Balbianello and most recently Villa Necchi.

Struck by a tragedy greater than ourselves, words stop and with them even thoughts; one remains mute even to oneself in looking at what one did not think possible to see. Faced with not only unexpected but also unimaginable events that in a few moments of terror change the landscape, even the domestic landscape, in which we live, lashing our lives with the very fury of typhoons that destroy our towns and countryside and forever change the perspective in which we had counted on continuing to live peacefully, we suddenly realise that we are wounded: all seriously wounded; and often all we are left with is silence to weep.

In these last two dramatic months, the lives of hundreds of thousands of Italians have been devastated by unimaginable events in terms of variety, number and seriousness; those who are afraid of the reality of the facts, those who pretend not to see and hide behind a fig leaf saying that these extreme events have always existed, deceive themselves first and foremost and, if they have political responsibility, commit the mortal sin of deceiving their voters; it is true… the Polesine in 1951… the Vajont landslide in 1963the Arno in Florence in 1966…; but they were rare events spaced out in time.

This is no longer the case! Now it happens every day.

Now, in just a few weeks, Emilia-Romagna is under water, hail reaches 18 cm in diameter in the north, rivers flood everywhere, tornadoes we have never seen, furious storms repeat the Vaia tragedy even in the centre of Milan, while fire devours Sicily and the Greek islands and thermometers reach temperatures like a planet no longer livable… Now it happens every day. (Links to content in Italian)

We roll up our sleeves with the stubbornness, energy and sense of duty and brotherhood that we Italians have always known how to find and that the world has always envied us; but the mouths are closed, the spirits bleak, the muscles weakened by the hope that is slow to be reborn. One struggles, one does not stop fighting, but with the strength of a desperation that comes more from fear of the future than from the trauma of what one has just experienced.

A fear that stems from the growing awareness that we are already beyond a limit that we set in decades still seemingly distant… in 2050 perhaps…; and yet today, summer 2023, that future is already here.

But the sense of impotence is today’s worst enemy! The feeling of having lost the war begins to creep in, sowing a panic that is often only temporary and that, like any bad dream, we try to relegate to the recesses of our conscience…; this is obviously not the attitude that is needed today. To rebuild an army after a defeat or, if we do not want to be so pessimistic, to strengthen it after too many battles lost but not to lose the war is the most difficult thing; but it is what, with energy, courage and also with the optimism that we must succeed, awaits each of us.

It is the time for personal mobilization; it is the time when each of us must fight, in the first person with courage and ardor, his or her own little battle with his or her own wooden sword, changing customs, actions and policies of personal and family life. FAI, for its part, will be ever more committed to marking, with its behavior, its example and its educational actions, the path to follow; and to demanding, on the strength of its almost 270,000 members, those choices and those intervention policies that the institutions can no longer procrastinate in the knowledge that fighting global warming is the mother of all battles, but also aware of the inescapable need to preserve the landscape of the most beautiful country in the world. If we sit back and wait for the great powers, the ones largely responsible for what is happening, to arm their armies while we continue to sing like cicadas (only to be trampled by the boot that crushes us as it passes), we are only widening our wounds; let us instead heal them with common sense, determination and civic sense that – we know – each of us can and must personally deploy in our hour of need.

Marco Magnifico, FAI President

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