The past two years have been the years of walls. Concrete walls, bureaucratic walls, all sorts of walls, come on down. With a small hiatus during the last week, where bridges put in a dramatic guest appearance.
The tragedy of Ponte Morandi cannot be unseen, and has provoked more indignation in Europe than any Syrian massacre. A contractor based in Luxembourg who had tried to save on maintenance, a government that had decided not to listen to expert engineers – in a nutshell, the chronicle of a death foretold, with a bunch of high-flying spectators frozen (for longer than twenty years, it seems) by the primal instinct that suggests to us immobility, not activity, in situations of extreme danger. A tsunami of indignation, in titanic waves.
Whilst the rest of Europe roars at the crumbling of the institutions, we, the Italians, look at each other, and shout once, but just once, against the crumbling. Then we take care of our deads, because we never (NEVER) laugh or forget about our deads. That’s the part of the story that concerns us, and that is why their faces, normal faces just like ours, appear one by one, with their stories, on our newspapers. Morbid, you will think. Maybe, we will answer, but that’s the price to pay to remember. The institutions? We are naturally untrusting of anything that proclaims itself an institution, and although we will keep fighting against the injustice that makes them shake, we believe, deep down, that things are not going to change, and that the fight will only keep the balance exactly as it is, preventing the weight from leaning towards either side. We are sorry not to share everybody else’s trust for states and institutions, but that’s how we were brought up: one ear to our grandparents and one to our parents, both telling us that trusting is good, but not trusting is even better. We really do make an effort, but it goes against our instinct.
They are going to build another bridge in place of the broken one. A bridge of steel, to repair the connection between parts of Italy, and the connection between institutions and people. Unfortunately, our memories are also made of steel.