The example of force and perseverance offered by doctors, nurses, healthcare personnel, clergymen and a whole range of anonymous heroes to cope with suffering, hardship and despair has revived the values through which a community regenerates itself: the sense of the sacred, of mystery, and of limits.
The sacrifice – sacrum facere – made by man sublimates the value of life to donate to other men the ‘renewed love of life.’ This is what happens every time a man makes a sacrifice. Wars, catastrophes, once the immanent brutality has passed, leave the will and the desire for regeneration, rebirth in the suffering hearts of the survivors. Some fulfill the pact and proceed along the path of virtuous reconstruction; others forget the agreement, and let themselves be guided by arrogance.
The ‘spell’ of the days that have passed prevented us from ‘going beyond the threshold,’ changing the experience of life. We have eaten, sung, studied, worked, but we have also tolerated, lamented and suffered. The ‘enchantment,’ little by little, made us forget the ‘things of the world,’ threatening our nights with the disquiet of fear, while the ominous litany of daily bulletins offered public evidence of the country’s trauma. On our devices, rapid stories sped by about transparent waters, immobile lagoons, the frolicking of playful dolphins, while families of wild boar romped through vineyards and gardens. A sense of child-like awe and emotion bore witness to the rapid rebalancing of the planet, ‘across the threshold.’
Today we are starting to reconnect to the time of doing and action. How do we want to interpret this opportunity? Aware that wars and catastrophes are against spiritual life, against any subtlety and complexity, aware that past experience is the effect of many of our vulnerabilities, it is clear that the impelling need to start again has to also be a conscious determination to achieve rebirth. What is required is not to get beyond the passive wear and tear, and then to go, but instead to foster the growth of a pact of love.
To reassemble the pile of shards of images with which we have stored up our ruins, to restore the rhapsody of delicate, gentle sentiments we have forgotten: sensitivity, listening, taking care of things. We need to re-appropriate, to re-achieve that ‘sense of the whole’ that in Humanism drove curiosity about all things, on the part of merchants, artists, men of science and arms, curious about everything, who took care of everything. The presumption of powers, the bludgeons of ideologies, indifference, injustice, exploitation and violence, are the constant dark side of humanity.
All of this today, multiplied by the tragic epic of immigration, by the senseless depletion of resources, by the corruption of the waters and the atmosphere, by the extinction of biodiversity and the poisonous uncertainty of our everyday existence, leads to a result whose interpretation and resolution cannot rely only on scientific knowledge or the very sophisticated technological instruments proposed by the interests of ‘systems.’
We have to direct and use the knowledge and tools with a profound, responsible attitude of care. Prompt and constant listening, first of all to ourselves, to defend us from the amphetaminic uproar of the Babel that threatens attention and the pursuit of meaning. We have to regenerate our vocabulary to grant new life to things: “inexact words cannot permit exact knowledge.”
The words that form our language are too vague and imprecise in meaning and above all in sentiment. Precision and clarity are generated by awareness of our feelings. Care of us, curing in turn for others, all curators together of the ‘things of the world.’ In the first Christian communities and later generations, the great gift and sentiment of faith created a sense of community. An unshakable faith that lived in the souls of men, a unanimous motor of doing and making, which everything renders concrete: because things become cum-crete, concrete, if they are ‘believed together.’
The sentiment of care could by the metaphor of interpretation that gives meaning and direction to the now worn-out substance of ‘sustainability,’ with reference to the design of sustainable processes and things. The curating involves the emotional and affective sphere, it teaches us to know and to love things and processes. The re-construction and the re-birth take concrete form if communities of entrepreneurs, designers, artisans, retailers, educators, the entire communities of towns, of the steeples of Italy, do not stop – in spite of it all – to ‘design’ their pathway.
These communities, and all Italians, possess the talent of creativity, invention, of making and know-how through which to achieve it. ‘Design culture’ is ancient and rooted in the Latin civilization. The Italian Journey, the notebooks and diaries of aristocrats and wealthy travelers who came from across the Alps to visit our cities and to explore our countryside cultivated like an immense garden, in order to complete their educational background, bear witness to the appreciation of that entire human capital that in a thousand different ways has designed rural areas, villages, palaces, theaters, cultivating, cooking, painting, acting, discovering unknown lands and visions. The “homeland of the soul” Gogol loved so well has to regenerate itself, once again.
The Italian lifestyle, a model in the world for those who want to improve their taste, their attitude of living, has to offer another paradigm, the archetype of the ‘Vita Nova’ required by the planet: to rediscover the Art of Care, to create the Design of Care.