PERFORMING AN EXTRAORDINARY ACT OF LOVE

Italy has stopped. It's on lockdown. Everybody is home. Everything is frozen, stuck in a suspended limbo. Life comes out of the daily dimension to enter a new one, timeless and space-less. The empty streets and piazze are the oneiric dream of 60 million Italians. Every aspect of modern life has been affected in the effort to stem the Coronavirus pandemic.

Italians are asked to follow simple rules; however, it contains a huge sacrifice at the same time since it provides the suspension of the individual rights thus far, that democracy has assured us of. It means losing, albeit temporarily, the right to education (with the fear that the school year will be incomplete altogether), the ability to work, the movement of people, the freedom to gather, the pleasure of a social life or take their children to play in the park. The lack in ability to do sporting activities, to hug a friend, to travel, to go on holiday, to have a chat at the bar, to go to the stadium, to go shopping (all shops remain shattered, except for grocery stores, pharmacies, newsagents and gas stations), getting married, going to see Nonni.  

Nevertheless, the Italians are subjecting themselves to this suspension of democratic rights out of respect and love for their parents, grandparents and the family. Yes, this is for them, for our elders, the most fragile of the family unit, the sickest of society. Our Nonni to whom, in a recent past, was forced to go to war, our Nonne who have brought up a generation among misery and unspeakable deprivation and who together have put our country, that was annihilated by the Second World War, back on its feet. Those who have more memory than us of past epidemics, of tragic moments, almost insurmountable misfortunes and for this reason are those that fit best in situations like the one we are experiencing today; for those who are content to hear us on the phone 'The important thing  is that you are well', they say. They are those who possess the memory and instinctive wisdom of survival, and who give us perhaps some of the sweetest memories of our childhood. Our Nonni is the 80-year-old neighbor, who lives alone, who needs to buy medicines, shop and spoil our children. They are loved ones with whom we just exchange a word and a smile. Our Nonni feeds us their wholesome food, shows us affection and share their life teachings with their innate predisposition to care since they know how precious and fragile human life is.  

Today our grandparents are in danger and more fragile than ever. Our Nonni are dying abruptly of an invisible evil and die alone, without the possibility of their loved ones embracing them and greeting them. They are isolated (doctors say of bringing I-pads to the sick so that they have the opportunity to greet their loved ones and not let them die alone), and without having a normal funeral. Today our grandparents do not pose any questions, and they stand by and gaze out the window at the absent life in the streets, and guilt ridden - 'Why?', ‘All of this because of us?’.

Despite all of it, Italy stops, locked inside itself to protect their people. A halt on the economy and productive fabric of the country - for once the human being has been put before the financial logic and profit. Italy asks our children to stay inside and partly stifle their exuberance of life - children who, as adults, will remember these days of isolation inside their homes, when their parents were forced to write a self-certification to be able to exit their home to do the grocery shopping. These days of boredom, of people singing the Italian anthem from the windows, will be recalled as those days that Italy stood tall and endeavored to protect and defend their Nonni.  Italy is performing an extraordinary act of love, a progress that moves forward within itself and makes itself aware of being a civilized and greater country. It’s people will know how to recognize priorities and make important and critical decisions with citizens who accept sacrifices because it's the right thing to do, because it's just is. This time is carved into history, when Italy stopped in the name of a more important type of movement.

Dear Nonni, when all this turmoil will end, please, tell us the story of how the Coronavirus spread. Tell us of all the arduous decisions made, of the sacrifices, of how life changed, of the many who have died. Please remind us of family values, of compassion and love, of helping one another and the importance of being united always and wholeheartedly. Please revive us because we are forgetful and distracted and we will need your knowledge and care, tomorrow more than ever.