articles in English, coronavirus, dictatorship, Italy

A thousand flowers will bloom

Things are about to change: surprisingly, by Italian standards, they are about to change very soon. Something is finally coming to the surface, a sprout, ready to bloom. Something is changing – and only yesterday, on the 21st January, 2022, to cite the desired concreteness, vice-secretary to Health Pierpaolo Sileri, a growingly popular figure, confessed that within a few weeks there will be an important turning point in our lives – and we should return to ‘complete’ normality.

Because? Because, of course, the vaccination campaign is a success. Omicron is not as lethal as previously thought – or they thought. We are back on track. And as it was said and repeated, everything will be alright.

Unfortunately, this is a fairy tale – or rather, it is a reality that in other countries, especially in the United Kingdom, has been repeated for more than a month – and in fact, all the restrictions have been already removed since weeks: the few that have ever been.

No, Italy has not finally defeated the virus: the virus cannot be defeated, it will not raise the white flag, it does not sign armistices. The virus has mutated. We’ve been lucky, it’s become clement: with our present government in Italy, we have been unlucky, but something is changing.

The pandemic gestation of COVID-19 was a War against an invisible enemy, managed by ‘nonentities’. First of all is Health Minister Speranza, who is still today a nobody, and was nobody before he became what he became. Speranza has created in the last two years a paralyzed army of the Italian nation – bearing the scar tissue of the first country to struggle with the new virus, the last to acknowledge it is over, or we must start to begin how to get over it. Yet the country is since paralysed. The story (far from a fairy tale) will be soon known to all: to counter this paralysis, the death of civilization and all forms of company and idea concept of sociability– produced in agreement with previous Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who could not get people out of their houses any longer, not even to get vaccinated – other non-entities (previous-previous Prime Minister Matteo Renzi) insisted publicly on giving power to another non-entity, Mr. Draghi, in the hope that he would revive the country. It sounds as a conspiracy, but it is nothing but Italian politics. There we go. Indeed, to change (another time) the current government was a convenient choice: Spring – when the virus naturally ‘retires’ and the politician on duty can take all the credit. But Speranza happened to stay, even with the change of government – because nobody would dream of taking his place, take the hit in his place. So goes the Italian politics, not even a conspiracy. And so, it was – or at least in appearance.

Draghi promoted the policy of Whatever it Takes: indeed, he actually came up with it in 2008, when he bailed the European banks and choose to use Greece as a cushion of the European crisis. What it ‘took’ was mass suicides, irrecoverable financial crises, dried up private funds, and what else. In Italy, in the last year, he promoted the idea of the stick (Covid Passport) and the carrot (vaccines) – necessary currently to enter any non-grocery store, shop, event, public transport, bank, office, museum, school (but not police quarters). In the meantime, it has put the country (deeper) in debt. His politics as a non-politician, as a strategist/banker, I presume, was to move that army of paralyzed people produced by Speranza, and turn the wheel. Unfortunately, however, that mule that is Italy did not move anyway. And how to blame the italians? Nothing has changed after a year of vaccination campaign, sacrifices, bankrupcy and broken friendships: still the same restrictions apply – and only the other day a mother in Florence could not see for the last goodbye her terminally ill 23 years old son, because the COVID restrictions. As per rule, visits are allowed in a strict 15 minute a day window (with a COVID passport): she had been carried away by security – with great distress of the hospital staff. No, the restrictions are still here. The wheel is at a standstill, and the economy is running out. After all the struggles, the sacrifices, temperature scanning, three doses inculcating, the mask wearing, isolating, nose-digging testing, there are no COVID-free zones. There is no immunity. ‘On the street so many faces, ‘They don’t have a beautiful color’ – goes a song by the late De Andre’. Even with three doses and FFP2 people don’t leave the house, terrified of this lethal anti-vax phantom, apparently everywhere and dangerous: the people don’t spend, they don’t produce. They are afraid. They are terrified. Let me put it this way: Airports with all their security measures give reassurance to people, or just increase their sense of anxiety? Does anybody actually happily shop in airports, or just tries to desperately kill time? So the last two years across the globe. So the economy.

‘Here whoever does not terrorize, gets sick with terror’. And in terror, many, many have died. And how to blame them? 

But spring comes. The virus withdraws. Again, very much for its clemency – for its natural course, whatever the natural course of virus is – very in 2 years of constant talk on a virus even knowns what a virus is, me included. But as far as most of us know, viruses have a peak, and then wear off. And there we go. But in this wearing off, the dynamics are important. Because a something new arises, from the empty streets that just won’t fill (not to mention that other than shopping they still not allowed to be filled). Indeed, those who have so far said NO, who have suggested a ‘uh?’, who implied a ‘umn’, have proved a frightening and undeniable consistency – to say the least dangerous and rightly disconcerting, for all who have said YES. Suddenly, everyone – or close to it – have been infected, willingly and unwillingly, by the feared variant that since the first revelation has been promoted, in other countries, as good news – in Italy as the apocalypse. Yet, thanks its clemency now everyone has his own personal COVID Certificate. The need for control appears insignificant, when you no longer know who you are controlling – and those who you wish to control don’t even know what you are controlling them for, or against. The predominant thought, like the virus, withdraws. And in a hurry, too: because all those who love Italy but don’t fit in – the tourists, the last beating heart of a country that has sold itself to them, withdraws, abstains. Dramatic are the numbers who cancel reservations, who don’t want to have to fight over a Super Green Pass or a controller who doesn’t speak a word of English. From the first of February these all will be able to tour the Bel Paese with the normal Green Pass – in hope that someone will confirm their reservations and visit this dangerously unwelcoming country – as actor John Malkovich himself recently witnessed in a Luxury hotel in Venice. This clemency for the foreigners, while the rest of the Italians will still need to expose the strengthened/vital one. Why? Because ‘umn’. But ‘umn’ is a dangerous position, it implies that doubts are arising, and doubts are very distant from a YES. When a ‘umn’ spreads, and it is, very fast, it is obvious the entire system cannot last long, of course. The YES withdraws. Actually, they all withdraw. Viruses, tourists, sceptics, Covid-cops. And with them, the evils that Mario Draghi produced – apparently out since the first round of the much-debated presidential elections. He soon will also be obsolete, replaced by anyone willing to take credit for the retreat and the ‘alleged’ recovery. Saved by the bell – by a lenient virus and by the diplomacy of the tourism minister (and not by the foreign minister, another non-entity). Let’s go on.

Those who have produced, who did not stop, who were not paralyzed are the ones who did not accept what was happening: he did not accept it from the beginning. The ‘carrot and stick’ approach is a patronizing, but far from a winning policy, negative and positive always make negative. What did it produce? friendships, ideas, hopes, alternatives, connections, invectives – which are not transient, do not last 9, then 6 months – as the COVID Passport is (at least in Italy, but that also is soon bound to change). Aren’t they based on ‘are you vaccinated? Great, then let’s properly shake hangs‘. No, they are based on a true sense of humanity, civilization, sociality and society. Conspiracy and denial are not the heart of those who have said ‘no’ from the beginning, but of those who continue to promote ‘yes’ – the enlightened, the sanitized, the ‘scientists’: the righteous, who day after day they are discredited by true science, which never, never, never is or will ever be associated with dogmas.But in this cleared land of scrub of thought and hope, something else grows and comes to life. Other gems, other shades, which can be noticed: they embrace the sun and look around. They are the flowers of this pandemic.

Copyright (C) 2022: Lapo Maria Zati

(Photo: Collage by M. I. Bența based on CC images)

See also:

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