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a V@g's diary

Writing of witches and women

Month

July 2016

Standing on the edge of a change: Trump, Europe and the WWII

We are living in a scary world. Today post was supposed to be about science, but then… well I stumbled on  a piece written by Michael Moore about the “Five reasons Trump will win the election in November” (nope, not a Trump fun but I had to deal with Berlusconi for 17 years… I recognize the disease) and well, somehow I got inspired (here there is Michael Moore’s  article, if you wanna have a look at it: http://michaelmoore.com/trumpwillwin/).

I agree with Moore. We cannot bear any other bad news. As a European I had quite a lot lately. Trump, I could say, is not my problem. But unfortunately I would be wrong. Cause, well… a bad US president is everybody’s problem.  I am not on denial. My denial phase started at the real beginning of all this mess, when he stepped in and announced that he was running for the presidency. I remembered that I thought… that it was all a joke. I mean, who could possibly vote for him? Then I also remembered Berlusconi and with that the acceptance phase kicked in. And to be fair, we (Italians) warned you! In September 18th, Beppe Servegnini wrote for the NY Times an enlightening article entitled “What Italy can teach America about Donald Trump” (here’s the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/19/opinion/beppe-severgnini-what-italy-can-teach-america-about-donald-trump.html?_r=0).  I am just saying that I do not want to hear anybody whining at any point of the next 5 years something like: “Nodody told us! We didn’t know” (like the Brits after Brexit did).

Apart from the political analysis (I am not even thinking of stepping into it), I would like to make an historical and social consideration of all this chaos we are unfortunately living in.

The years between the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX  (oh, come on… just a bit history…  stop complaining) were quite good for Europe and the West World in general. And nobody back then would have ever thought that in less than 20 years the world as they knew it would have been ripped apart by not one, but two conflicts, the Second one of which almost destroyed us all. World War II killed a gigantic amount of people in all Europe. Russia lost the 14% of its population, Greece the 11%, France the 2%, Italy 1.6%, Germany almost the 9%. And I am not talking of soldiers only, but of civilians too. A lot of civilians… to whom we have to add the victims of the Nazi genocide: 6 millions of Jews, 500k of roman gypsies, 250k of handicapped citizens, war prisoners… in total more than 11 millions of people.

The death toll is horrifying. We are talking of 80 millions of people: the 3% of the 1940 World Population ripped off in 10 years.

And the economic cost was astonishing as well: entire countries had to be re- built from scratch. Cities, roads, services: all gone. Berlin was a pile of ruins. Milan as well (Monte Stella, a hill in one of the city park is built with the ruins of the buildings destroyed by the war  bombing). The Balkans, Poland, Czech Republic… Europe was a graveyard, literally.

And no, nobody saw it coming.

I am not saying we will face a war soon (I really hope not), what I am suggesting is that we are on the edge of a change. A social, radical change and the conservative pulses pushing us back are a part of it. Trump, Brexit, whatever is going on in Turkey (Armenians genocide people, is time for you to face your past and deal with it), the rise of the extreme right more or less everywhere in Europe, people like Salvini and Grillo in Italy, Marine Le Penn in France, Golden Dawn in Greece are all part of the same reactionary wave, they speak the same language and they personify the same fear. We all see the change coming, what they want is going back to whatever we had before. Whatever is going on nowadays reminds me of “Sphere”, a Barry Levinson’s movie of 1998 with Dustin Hoffmann… you have an opportunity to make every wish comes true but you are so scared of changing that you get trapped in your own nightmares. And the last time this happened we almost didn’t make it…

Love

V@g

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Evil debunked: the Grannies’ club project

What’s evil? How can we recognize it, where did it come from? Is it a disease? Is it something that could affect only people with some kind of predisposition? Or, is it a bug that could touch us all? Psychology already gave an answer to all these questions. Evil is in us. In all of us. To grow anyhow, “evil” needs some circumstances to be fulfilled. Starting from the social environment: a cage or barrel, let’s say, that would promote human alienation and of course that would free whoever is involved from any kind of responsibility. Like the dungeon of Abu Ghraib for example, like Daesh, like Auschwitz … but also like a suburban high-school , a prison or any ghetto area that we are usually so ready to dismiss and forget. Any kind of pathologically violent behavior, any torture, any murder begins with one single little step. One small act against someone else. No serial killer ever started a career mass murdering dozens of strangers. It doesn’t work this way. The mob –killer that yesterday, let’s say, burned a shop or accidentally (it’s always “accidentally”) dropped  a dead body into an empty pillar of an under construction highway covering everything  with a pouring of concrete, years ago… was just a kid watching for the police while others were committing a crime. It was a small thing, not even a big deal. It was almost not illegal.

The social cage I am talking about can be the mob, but also the army, a political party… or, any kind of group or association (yeah, even the Grannies’ books club: those sweet old ladies can be evil too). Under the pressure of the cage, humans behave differently and some pulse are more willingly released than others (and usually not the good ones). You have to behave this way, because everybody does. The group “protects” you, the group becomes your family, your world. Even if it is a sick one, still you start to identify yourself with it, and after a while “that world” is the only one you know. The authority grants you freedom from responsibility. “Do this, you’ll never get caught” … or “Kill those… and you go to heaven where an insane number of virgins is waiting for you”. Or again: “Mass murder 6 millions of Jews, cause as gods we have the right to it”. Our History is sadly full of these kinds of statements. Religions, culture, politic are just a vest, an interchangeable coat. Behind there is an old and well –known demon: power lust (hey, here you are again, wish I could say it has been a while…).

Every social cage wants and offers power and recognition. And at the same time grants a solution – a temporary escape that is presented as permanent – from any kind of daily and personal misery: it is a tempting offer, a real marketing masterpiece. The cultural (religious, political, racial) context is the vest, the excuse or, let’s say, the Ad.

Of course reflecting about how evil works and how social cages affect and release it, doesn’t solve anybody from personal responsibilities. If you steal a book, even if you did it cause you were miserable and that group, let’s say the “Grannies’ books club” granted to you a golden pass for every library and chocolate store of the planet, you remain a thief. Nothing else. You are going to pay for that and return the book (don’t steal books… we have libraries! You don’t need a golden pass for them).

If you kill someone (for money, recognition, power, god or whatever), you are a murderer (and a twat too).

And if you let yourself lured by those racists that nowadays think that all Muslims, all strangers, all foreigners are terrorist you are no better. You are falling in another social cage. Still, a cage. Set yourself free. Take a book and read it. Write something. Go for a walk in the woods (and if you judge others by the color of their skin or their religion, or again by the Country they are coming from… stay in the woods). Bring toys to the kids of a refugees camp and play with them, teach them something. Sharing culture and knowledge is a win – win bargain: you earn something without losing anything. The best way to fight the human lust for blood and power, to win the battle against fear and greed is to work on our best pulses (yeap, we have some good instincts too), to set free the hero still living and breathing in all of us. At the end, it’s only a matter of choice.

Love

V@g

Want to be happy? Start from here…

Can we say it aloud? For once, at least? Can we shout it out? Ok, all of you… stand up and repeat after me:  We are proud of who we are! Here it is. Easy!  Now, let’s do it again: We are proud of every, tiny wrinkle, of every inches of cellulite, of every naughty action we made, of every time we fall. We are freaking proud of our story. Cause it’s ours. It belongs only to us. I do not care if my life is not “Ophra- approved”. I don’t mind if I made lots of mistakes that dragged me down and forced me to start all over again. I am proud of who I am. And nobody will ever be able to take it away from me.

Can we stop believing only for a moment to the paranoid wishes of a society that doesn’t even care if we are fine or not? Can we stop browsing the internet searching for our true selves? We are not gonna find it between ”The hottest bikini diet” and the “the Tinder-sutra that will change you existence”. And no, not even between the latest 10 tips dinner “to make him yours” or the “latest trick to become a genius”. Seriously. Stop it. You are fine like you are. You are free to improve those part of yourself that you want to. Stop listening to the folk out there. They do not have a clue about life. They, all of them, are exactly like you.

If you are 60 and you wanna wear leather: go for it. If you are 20 and you want to try to become an astronaut. Well… what are you waiting for? (And the other way around too… I mean, why not! I would love to see a granny flying to the moon).  Let’s stop believing to the whining of a bunch of people too prude to dream, too scared too change themselves and too selfish to be happy for you. Can we start questioning what the media –society, school, priest, politicians, your doctor – are telling us? Society is not God. It’s just a bunch of human beings  born naked to live blind until the day they’ll die without having a clue of what was going on. Can we stop being scared or feeling inappropriate? We are not like that.

You know something?  Everybody is scared to face a certain type of situation. Maybe the same one you are living in this very moment. If you survive, if you will be happy, if you will not behave like everybody else, if you will fulfill your dreams , well… you will become a problem. Not for everybody of course. But for a lot a lot of peopl, like for those that didn’t want to take the same path you took cause they were scared. Guess what? Who cares! Come on, troublemakers.  You are absolutely great as you are. Get out, be yourself. Start making questions. Have doubts. Always. No matter what.

Love

V@g

Be Nice…

 

It took me a while to write this post. After what happened in Nice it just didn’t feel right spending time talking about petty stuff. It was too much. It was a deep jump into reality. And it hit me like a slap. I don’t want to speak about the political and financial reasons that support this situation. And no, I am not one of those yelling that refugees and migrants should leave Europe. I do not believe either that is a matter of religion or culture.  We are all the same. All human beings driven by a bunch of lookalike pulses and desire, with instincts deeply connected to our primeval roots. The difference here maybe is that some of us fight those instincts daily. Some others don’t.

How easy is too fall into violence?  How Dostoevsky was writing more than 100 years ago, you should not fight people, but ideas, cause these if instilled in weak minds, become the only  fulfilling reason to exists and the only one worth dying for.

In every instant of our history, every human generation had to face the same demons: poverty, exclusion, loneliness, fear, sadness. We call our excluded the ones that have been dropped out, but it’s not so easy and it cannot be accepted as an explanation. How many times we read on the newspaper headlines like..  “He was depressed and he killed his wife” or  “She was desperate and she killed her children”. This time the numbers changed and the violence escalated: 84 souls. Women, children, men.  All with a life, a past, a future. All with their stories, their dreams. All watching fireworks together on the seaside. All killed by the same man. A terrorist, a traitor, a waste.  Much have been said and written in these days. But one thing hit me. The profiling of this father of three, almost divorced. A man, that has been described as depressed, unstable, without money as a possible explanation for what he did and what he was and what he became.

I have been penniless thousands of time in my life, as I have been lonely, jobless or lost.  Some of my friends have been through divorces as painful as hell. Some others lost kids, or a spouse.  And still, none of us ever thought of giving up.

Sadness is part of life. How come more often than not we read of people apparently unable to confront it with dignity?

Violence is a petty excuse for those unable to face existence. The cowards whining cause “life is complicated”. There is no absolution for those that kill others to solve their immaturity. Their reasons are weak, as they are.

Evil is nothing more than ignorance and incompetence, it’s greed, it’s banality, as Hannah Arendt wrote in her analysis of Adolf Eichmann’s trial,  it’s facing the unsuitableness of living and refusing to behave in an adult, proactive way.  Evil is looking for a shortcut cause the long was it’s hard and require commitment.  Every terrorist, every killer every delusional psychopath fighting for Isis, murdering, raping, torturing others for pleasure, is nothing more than a humans unfitted for life. Not by nature. By choice.

The killer of Nice and all the others like him are a waste, a discharge. Not because they  were  lonely and without money. Not because of their religion, not for the Country they were born in. Not for the color of their skin. Not for their past. They are a waste of space and life because they decided to kill others in order to fill in their dissatisfaction. They chose to betray us. Not just the West World. They deceive the true core of being a human.

Of course there are other reasons. Like the ones of those that are actively looking for these unstable minds, to use them in their plans. Cause there was a plan in act during the night of the 14th of July. There are others yet to be found, pawns in a foolish chess game of political interests and money that is still going on and that is leaving  behind a long trail of bodies.

Still, when the cameras stop flashing and the mics turn off, when the experts and  the politicians are over with their speeches, there is only one thing that remains at the end of this muddle tarnished by blood. And it’s the silence surrounding a doll, placed close to the dead body of a child in a summer starry night of Cote d’Azur.

e.b.

 

The comfort zone debunked

How many times have you heard someone telling you that personal improvement, success and in general realization come always when you step outside your comfort zone? I bet tomorrow’s lunch that you have heard this advice more than once. It’s like a mantra… step outside you bubble if you want to become as rich (famous, super cool, powerful) as… (fill in the blank with whoever is your personal idol). And it sounds so easy, right? But, what does it really mean? What’s this mythical comfort zone? I mean, what’s comfortable for me may not be the same for you correct? How do we recognize the comfort zone? And how do we step out of it? Problem is that the ideas suggested are many but not really helpful. Even the good old saying “do every day something that you consider uncomfortable” is not really useful. I mean… taking out the trash naked will be considered very unpleasant by all of us (of course many others will enjoy the show…) but I seriously doubt it will take us anywhere closer to our idea of success. And the concept can be applied to encouragements like “do something you have never done before”. I mean, I never went to work wearing a pink teddy bear costume … and if I will do it tomorrow, I am pretty sure my boss would call the police. So how do we fix it avoiding jail, unemployment and social trauma? I guess a good starting point is figuring out what we really want to achieve.  And another step it could be realize which our weak spots are. And we have to be awfully honest. Cause, trust me, we are exceptionally good at lying to ourselves when it comes to admit our faults and our lacks. Probably it has to be said that we are living in a society that is not helping us in this way. Whenever there is a scandal reported on the news we rarely hear someone involved admitting “it’s all my fault!!!”

There is always a “ready- to use” excuse: “Internet didn’t work! That’s why I couldn’t finish the paper!”, or “The traffic was awful!”, or again “Really I didn’t have time to write you back! I am so busy!” … But we cannot be serious right? At least with ourselves we have to admit that it was only a lie. We could have done it better. We cannot end up believe to our own BS… And nope, no matter how many times we repeat a lie still we don’t make it true. We can make plans in advance… the good thing of the human brain is that it gives us the possibility to imagine events in time. Maybe the comfort zone is nothing more than this. We all know what we lack in. We all know what we should do to improve it. And we all know that luck and “knowing the right people” are not enough if what is missing is hard work and a honest personal feedback.

Love

V@g

Lonely, alone and that old uncle you never liked

All of us, at least once, have been lonely. Deeply, truly lonely. Like you are so desperate that would talk with your cat, but you don’t have any and you cannot even adopt one cause you are allergic to them since you were a child. You know, those period when you would call that old uncle you never liked rather than spend another day binge watching TV.  You know exactly what I am talking about.  And when this happens, you have just one question in mind.  “How do I know new people? How to I reverse all this freaking thing?”

Guess what. It’s not so easy. Meeting new people, having a new crew is not enough. It’s not the fix you need to beat the loneliness. Loneliness is not a state of being, is a state of mind. You will feel exactly in the same way even if you are surrounded by colleagues, supposed friends, cats or dogs. You will feel lonely even if you spend 1 thousand buck on a new dress, even if you go and get a new haircut. Even if you go out with that cute but so strangely unappealing guy you met on Tinder. Not everybody that is alone feels lonely, but whoever feels lonely is alone. Nope, they are not the same thing. And yeah, you can switch from one state to the other.

First, just keep in mind you won’t feel awfully lonely forever. It’s a phase, it will pass. Like everything else in life (the good and the bad). But there is more: you can actually stop feeling this way and start being happily alone. How? Well, as a matter of fact you have to know yourself. You have to start building a relationship with you, with the inner part of your ego. How else? Who are you? What do you want? What do you like to do? Being alone means doing things you like, love and you enjoy. It’s quality time. It’s a blessing, not a curse. During the most important moments of our lives we are alone. We are born alone. Alone we start to discover the world around us. We learn alone. When we think, when we plan, we are alone. When we take a decision that matter (one of the big decisions of life) we are alone. We are deeply connected with our mind, with our knowledge, with all the tiny little things of which our personal universe is made of. If you are not enjoying by yourself, you would not enjoy surrounded by others. How do you know what do you really want to do on an average Friday night if you are not even sure of which kind of music you prefer? Given the chance which option will you pick up? Japanese or Mexican restaurant? Do you really like yoga? And that shade of classic pink? Are you wearing it cause you truly believes it’s gorgeous or just cause your boyfriend doesn’t like it when you are wearing red?

Let’s make it bigger, shall we? If one day you will earn a salary no matter what you do, the same salary… would you keep your job? If for instance tomorrow the president of the Country you are living in, will tell you “You know what? Whatever job you are doing I will give you 2 thousand euro: you can keep doing what you do or changing for something else. In any case, whatever will be your profession you will have this money”. So… in this case, what would you do?  Would you rather keep your job or would you change it? And please let’s avoid the cliché …. “I will travel forever and I will move to Thailand to live like a king”. If someone will tell you “no matter what you do, you would be happy in the long term”, would you change something in your life?

These are some of the questions that matter in life and you can find your answer learning how to be alone. You cannot understand what you want if you don’t know who you are. Seriously  why do you want be a stranger to yourself? In a lifespan the time we spend alone is the most important one. And it’s not so much as we think it is. We are always trapped in a relationship with a partner, a friend, a pet …that old uncle we never liked that stinks of wine and laugh like a hippo. So the time we got to know ourselves and to work on ourselves, is truly precious. Do yourselves a favor. Don’t waste it. It cannot be refunded, you know it right?

Love

V@g

An umbrella full of dreams…

Let’s clear the bench from any doubts. Your life is entirely up to you. You are the one on the drive seat. You are the one that choses to let someone else take the wheel. Even in the worst, lonely moment of your existence, you – and only you – are the one in charge. This doesn’t mean you are supposed to feel less lonely or less hurt. It’s just the way it is. You can even be aware of being the one in control, and still feel like shit. It happens, sometimes (actually often) more than once. Maybe you would feel better thinking that nothing lasts forever. Not even our lives, actually. When we suffer we think we will be suffering for the rest of our days. But science proves that this is a lie. Our brains are wired to produce happiness and satisfaction in time. Basically no matter how shitty is your existence at a certain point you will be happy about it. And no, there is no difference between real happiness and fake happiness. They are the same thing. More than this, science is not actually sure that free will really exists. Do we really take any decisions or it’s the unconscious part of our mind that is driving the car instead of us? Are we the passengers of our own existences with the sole power of keeping  an hand on the emergency break? Like, just in case you know. The only thing  we can do, maybe, it is rethinking ourselves and our time. We can stop wasting time for instance. We can start to commit to our true identity. Cause, no matter what we are going through, no matter how lonely we feel, how broken we think we are, before committing to anything else (new friends, new loves, new passions), we have to commit to ourselves. We all have. And the wheel of time keeps spinning whether we do actively step any further or we don’t.  No matter how old we are, we can always do something good for us. Think about your last day. Imagine it. What do you wish you have accomplished by then? What are the things written on your bucket list? Nobody will give us back the time we have lived today. No matter if we are 16 or 60, tomorrow we will be older. Just 24 hours older. Still older. Sadly closer to the edge. So why don’t we start to make things happen? Why don’t we start from us? Are you hurt and sad? Good, pull yourself together, put on some lipstick and start to think about a dream. A big dream, the biggest the better. And after you have figured it out, well… start doing something that will get you closer to achieve it. It’s like a race, without winners or losers. We are all on the same sinking ship. And the things we do, no matter what, won’t change the results. But they will for sure make our staying better or worst. It’s up to us.

Love

V@g

Sometimes…

Sometimes it feels like you could touch the air up in the sky, because the morning is so blue that doesn’t seem real. And it is so clear that you can imagine yourself as a fresh breeze, passing your fingertips all over the clouds, giving them shapes, curls, waves. Sometimes it is like the rain is kissing you. When it pours down, heavy and thick, after a torrid summer afternoon. And you know that it will follow a fresh evening and a cool night, smooth, like the shade of the trees on the mountains. Sometimes everything is perfect and the moon is so bright that you could fall in love with that pale and milky light. And in any of those days you wonder what good did you do in one of your long lost past, to deserve all this beauty.

Love

V@g

Of Monday’s blues and of making plans

Monday blue? Maybe you should consider Monday from a different point of view. It’s just a day, the one after the weekend, and it is an occasion to make a difference for your life. You have 24 occasion to make a change, 1440 instants to start doing something. Not for your boss or for your spouse. Not for the kids or the dog. Only for you. Start to think about Monday as a weekly edition of a New Year’s Eve celebration. It’s time to make project and to believe that everything is possible. If your life is so unbearable that just the thought of going through this day makes you cringe, well perhaps you should change something (or everything) in your routine. And stop telling yourself that you are too (please fill in with the adjective that better suit your whining self, such as ugly, poor, old, busy, lonely, shy, unlucky) to do it, cause it’s not true. And you know it’s not. Stop listening to that lazy tiny, boring voice in your mind that keeps telling you will never be able to make it. It’s just your delusional self, shut it up immediately. Have a plan, just a small one maybe, like a weekly tiny little plan. Something to achieve, to complete. Or maybe just open your inner drawer (the one where you keep all your New Year’s resolutions, your “almost-lost” dreams and your “one –day-I’ll-do-it” plans) and act! Just do something. If you don’t believe in yourself and in your abilities, trust me: nobody will. Use Monday as an occasion to make your life special. And having a special life doesn’t mean become as rich as Bill Gates in a day. It means giving to your life the meaning you want for it. Success, excellence, and whatever else come with the first two, require hard work and passion. But you have to start somewhere, right? Your starting point is this Monday. This minute, this second. It’s now. Remember that the only richness you have, the only life’s variable you can try to control, is time. You have the power of managing your time as you prefer. The question is, what will you give up to achieve your dreams? So, ready? Steady… Go! Have fun and happy Monday
Love V@g

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