I meet an acquaintance who tells me that he has always traveled a lot for work and tourism, but that lately he no longer does so willingly. As for the motivations, he proposes a list of issues which, taken individually, may seem of moderate importance, but which, presented in sequence, lead to some reflection.
“The other day in Rome in the train station I felt in danger when faced with certain threatening individuals; outside the station the taxis never arrived and I was surrounded by rightly nervous and shouting people; once in the car we found a road block for a demonstration on weather conditions; when we arrived at the University, there were demonstrators who wanted to prevent a certain conference from being held. Nowadays, even when I’m in the car, I no longer pass through some neighborhoods of my city, and even in the center beyond a certain hour I don’t feel at ease when I meet certain groups of kids, even very young ones. This summer, before leaving for vacation, I took out anti-theft insurance for the house and put in armored locks because several thefts have occurred in our neighborhood. Now, with this latest war, there are once again the dangers of attacks and I have heard from Jewish acquaintances who are afraid to make themselves known for fear of being subjected to reckless actions by fanatics and agitated people who also demonstrate against them in our country.”
I reply with a generic “eh, yes of course, bad temporary weather!”. We remain optimistic, but try not to underestimate. And then I remember the diary of Sergio Ricossayear 1977, years of lead: “I wake up. I go out. In the mail I can’t find the usual tax bill to pay. Nobody shoots me in the legs. I pass unscathed by two banks and a post office. I enter the university despite the pickets. Going to a restaurant I am not robbed by the usual unknown people. I am not blocked in traffic by the procession of fighting strikers. I return home. I’m not kidnapped in the garage. The front door is not broken into. The accommodation is not occupied by homeless people organized by extra-parliamentarians. No threatening anonymous phone calls this evening. In the night, the police siren is still not for me. I sleep badly because I feel like I’m privileged.” (How to ruin a country – Rizzoli 1995).
Bad weather and restless sleep. So it’s time again to emerge from certain other “sleeps” to reiterate where the threats (ideological, political, economic, military, …) to the open and free society come from. And start opposing their spread again. Reagan said it: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction”.