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.