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Run Free.

“I love running – it is something you can do by yourself and under your own power. You can go in any direction, fast or slow as you want, fighting the wind if you feel like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs” (Jesse Owens).

Running is such a wonderful sport. Since I have started running regularly I have more energy and I feel younger.  Whenever I go out, for an easy run or for an harder training, I feel challenged and alive. I learned to keep going, even when it’s hard, when it hurts, when I don’t want to. I look past it. That’s what it added to my personality: stubbornness, endurance, determination, call it what you want.

Running brings me close to nature and to myself: I listen to my breathing, it is a time to be alone, to enjoy the views and forget about the problems of the day.  Every season, sometimes every day, has a different smell. Another aspect of running which I love is what it does for my health, especially my heart and cardiovascular system; the way it helps me concentrate better and to improve my memory,  to get rid of headaches and also to improve my skin tone. Being in good physical shape makes me feel better about myself and brings more confidence. Running is a good way for getting rid of stress because it literally runs off the bad hormones. Sweat cleanses me from the outside, it reaches places that a shower could never reach.

It doesn’t matter how fast or how far I go, when I run I’m a runner. It’s an inclusive sport: it doesn’t matter if it is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years; there is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get: I just run. Some people don’t see any sport in it, they argue that running lacks rough conflict. Yet the conflict is there, you against yourself, the cruelest of all opponents. To me is more raw and challenging than any man versus man competition.  When I run my adversary lies deep within me, in my ability, with brain and heart, to control and master myself and my emotions.

I love to run and since I have started training hard enough to really feel it, I discovered that running is all about freedom.

Roots / Radici

Roots / Radici

Roots
via Daily Prompt: Roots

An folk song from Southern Italy, roughly translated, says: “if you never forget about your roots, you will respects the roots of faraway countries”.

I have been often accused of being a nationalist because I like to emphasize how important my roots are to me. I believe the words of the folk song above explain why I believe roots are important and why I am proud of my background. Only if we know who we are and where we come from we can truly become citizens of the world, we can learn to love and respect difference as one of the most exciting features that our Universe has to offer.

My Sardinians roots are a fundamental part of who I am but also what makes me look at the world around with interest, empathy and respect.

Top 5 things to do in Cagliari

Top 5 things to do in Cagliari

5 things to do in the capital city of my beautiful homeland.

Discover Sardinia

Cagliari is the capital city of Sardinia. It is connected with dozens of cities all over Europe thanks to the flights that many low-cost companies offer throughout the year.

Here are some tips for the visitors that want to get the best out of their experience.

  1. Poetto

Poetto is Cagliari’s main beach. It stretches for about eight kilometres, from Sella del Diavolo (the Devil’s Saddle) up to the coastline of Quartu Sant’Elena. Poetto is also the name of the district located on the western stretch of the strip between the beach and Saline di Molentargius (Molentargius’s Salt Mine).

There are several buses that run from the city-centre to the beach.Poetto is popularly divided into “fermate” (stops), which means the various stretches of beach are recognised by the ordinal number of bus stops or urban lines linking the city centre district. The most popular is the 1st stop, adjacent to the port…

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A Warning From History

A Warning From History

“If understanding is impossible, however, knowledge is imperative, because what happened could happen again. Conscience can be seduced and obscured again: even our consciences” (Primo Levi, 1986, https://newrepublic.com/article/119959/interview-primo-levi-survival-auschwitz ).

In 1955, 10 years after his liberation from Auschwitz, Primo Levi wrote a preoccupied article, pointing his finger against the “silence of the civilized world”, which regarded any mention of Nazi extermination camps as in bad taste. Levi feared that the greatest crime imaginable, still so vivid in the minds of survivors, was in danger of being forgotten by the public. He rhetorically asked: “Is this silence justified?”

refugees

On Thursday the 9th of March Laurence Rees, historian and former head of BBC history programmes, presented at Waterstones York his latest book The Holocaust, claiming that books and talks about Holocaust are “a warning from history”, echoing Levi’s fear of people forgetting about such a terrible crime. Rees interest in the Holocaust history has been ongoing for 25 years, since he realized his first documentary for BBC on the subject. The Holocaust is the combination of those 25 years of research and interviews. It is a piece of work that speaks through the voices of victims, killers and bystanders. Rees draws on interviews collected over the years for his TV programmes, often previously unpublished. The book uses documentary techniques, frequently cutting from the narrator to eyewitnesses, adding immediacy and emotion.

Through the voices of people who experienced the holocaust Rees also approaches some persistent myths on the subject. To tackle the postwar claims that victims followed their killers “like sheep” and show that there was defiance and some even obtained weapons and turned them against Germans, Rees tells the story of Marek Edelman, who fought in the Warsaw ghetto uprising. Edelman recalled: “the first few days were our victory. We were used to being the ones who ran away from the Germans. They had no expectation of Jews fighting like that.” Rees also fights the idea that the Nazi machinery of mass murder was impersonal or antiseptic, describing the sadistic violence of some killers – in some case through their accounts – the carnage in death camps overflowing with corpses, and the unspeakable suffering: when children were dragged away from their parents in the Łódź ghetto, one survivor remembered: “their screams reached the sky”.

The Holocaust it is not an original interpretation, but offers an interesting approach. Rees tells a complex story with compassion and clarity, but he also manages not to sacrifice the nuances of it. The voices of the victims are accompanied by the ones of ordinary Germans and sadistic killers who, interviewed decades after the destruction of the Third Reich, never regretted their role in the Holocaust and still believed that they had done the right thing. Erna Krantz from Bavaria recalled: “You saw the unemployed disappearing from the streets.  There was order and discipline … It was, I thought, a better time”. Wolfgang Horn, a former soldier, explained his decision of burning down a Russian village: “because the locals were too primitive for us”. One of Goebbels personal assistants, interviewed in 1992, summed up his experience of the Holocaust in one word, “paradise”, and when asked if he ever felt guilty about the slaughtering of children he cited Groaning: “the enemy is not the children. The enemy is the blood of the children that will grow up to be Jew”. The Holocaust helps to recover the memory of those children whose only guilt was to be Jews, and the memory of the other victims, survivors of what Rees described “a crime of singular horror in the history of the human race”.

It is the duty of everyone to meditate on what happened. Everybody must know, or remember, that Hitler and Mussolini, when they spoke in public, were believed, applauded, admired, adored like gods. They were “charismatic leaders”; they possessed a secret power of seduction that did not proceed from the credibility or the soundness of the things they said, but from the suggestive way in which they said them. And we must remember that their faithful followers, among them the diligent executors of inhuman orders, were not born torturers, were not (with a few exceptions) monsters: they were ordinary men. Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous; more dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.

(Primo Levi, 1986, https://newrepublic.com/article/119959/interview-primo-levi-survival-auschwitz ).

Originally published on Point Zero on Monday the 20th of March 2017:  https://blog.yorksj.ac.uk/englishlit/a-warning-from-history/

A beacon of hope

A beacon of hope

This morning, while browsing the news, I read an update that made me reflect on the future of the world we live in. The news came from Italy, a country in which the current political debate is dominated by racism, xenophobia, sexism and homophobia, as it is unfortunately happening in many European and non-European countries.

The rate of juvenile unemployment in Italy has reached a dreadful 40,1% this year and too many manipulative politicians are having a great time at blaming refugees and migrants for it. In the meantime, the Catholic Church has gone as far as declaring that the last earthquake that shook the nation was caused by the divine fury for the approving of a law that states the rights of same sex relationships. With such themes dominating the public debate, hoping in a happy future for the next generations is not an easy task, and still shook by Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and the wave of nationalism and xenophobia that is spreading all over Europe, I was a bit worried when I read the headline of the newspaper article.

The headline was: “Foreign students in separate classrooms: racial laws in Vercelli’s secondary school”. I felt like crying, but then I started reading the whole article. The headmaster of a secondary school, worried by the topics filling political agenda and by the tones of the debates, decided to test his students to show, as he explained, “that the young generations are better than the ruling class”. He chose, as the “sample” for his experiment, a class in which the pupils were studying the racial laws in Nazi Germany. He wrote and signed a fake document in which he ordered that in his school, from that day onwards, were going to be created special classes for the children that had one of both parents that weren’t originally from Italy. When the document was read in class by a teacher students cried, shouted, asked the teacher to allow them to write a letter to the government, and stepped in front of the door saying to their classmates: “you are not going anywhere, you are like us”.  The week before they had studied the 1938 racial laws and, impressed by that part of European history, they had decided to create a poster with a quotation that is identical in the Coran and the Talmud: “whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world”.

These children are the living proof that culture, knowledge and awareness are the only way that can lead a person to understanding, empathy and compassion and also to be able to speak up against injustice and abuse. These children are a beacon of hope for a nation, a continent, a planet poisoned by fear and hate, an example for everybody in the world that believes that we can cooperate to create a fairer world.

5157264-kqWB-U10402044850747hzG-700x394@LaStampa.it

Stay Human

Stay Human

On the 24th of June 2016 I woke up early to read the results of the referendum. I stared astonished at my laptop screen. I felt like I wanted to cry, but shock prevailed over everything else. I could not believe that the majority of people had preferred division over unity.

I am what Mr. Nigel Farage would describe as an “economic migrant”. I moved to the UK from Italy in 2008, after studying Politics and International Relation for three years, to find a job and to learn English. But more than anything else what led me to leave family, friends and sunshine behind was the excitement and the curiosity to experience life in a different country, to enjoy the beauty of communicating in a foreign language, the wonders of embracing different cultures, religions, cuisines, languages and everything multifaceted that this world has to offer us. I think of myself as a “cultural migrant”, as a person that enjoys freedom of movement and makes the most of the amazing opportunities it offers. The Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci wrote that “history teaches but it has no disciples” and I believe it is the perfect description of our times, of the way in which we have forgotten the mortal perils that lie in politically manipulating hate and fear to create division.

More and more often since the Brexit vote people I know or people I meet ask me, “what are you going to do now?” I still do not know what I will have to do in practical terms or if my legal status will change, and if so when. But I am sure that I will not change my nature, I will not give up hope, I will not stay silent. Over the last six months what has saddened and worried me the most about Brexit it is not that I will have to apply for a certificate of permanent residence that will basically state the rights that I already hold, but rather the ways in which people’s fears and hate have been opportunistically used. I was bitter and angry for days when a customer at work refused to be served by me because he did “not feel comfortable with foreigners”, and when another one complained because there was “not a British cashier in the whole store”. I controlled my reactions, and I decided that I did not want to answer fear with fear. It was time to put the anger to one side and make good use of my experience as a literature student.

brexit

I will not forget what studying literature at York St John is teaching me: that my opinion counts, and that my voice can be heard, and that hearing multiple and different voices is the most enriching feeling a human being could ever experience. I have always loved literature, but when I was younger I failed to see its potential. I did Politics at University because I believed that was the only way I could play a part in changing the world. Over ten years later, I married my love for literature with the knowledge that it is the strongest weapon of all. The ways in which literature enables us to understand the ways in which the world can be described, criticized, analyzed is not only stimulating for my mind but it also what gives me hope and strength and the will to live in a world where love, compassion and solidarity are stronger than fear and hate.

Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian solidarity worker and activist who lost his life in Palestine in 2011, wrote these words that I have taken as my own since the first time I read them: “We must remain human, even in the most difficult time. Because, despite everything, there must always be humanity within us. We have to bring it to others.” So, to answer to everybody who asked me what I was going to do after Brexit: I will stay human and I will speak up for humanity, and I will try to bring humanity to others.

Originally posted on https://blog.yorksj.ac.uk/englishlit/ on February the 6th, 2017.