I must say that personally I don’t particularly like the figure of Saul of Tarsus (or Paul, if you prefer): though it is not difficult to recognize in him the real popularizer of the Christian faith, generally, in my vision, the price he decided to pay to allow a generalized acceptance of the Gospel, the betrayal of too many elements of what I consider the real message of Jesus Christ, is too high to allow me to appreciate his teachings.
This doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate some of his ideas. In particular, there is a sentence of the “Letter to the Galatians” I always loved as, in my opinion, it perfectly expresses the deepest meaning of the so-called “Christian freedom”: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28).
Well, I was thinking about this sentence a couple of days ago, watching the news on tv reporting about the umpteenth carnage of immigrants on the Italian shores.
Probably, the majority of the non-Italian readers (and, perhaps, also some Italian one) don’t even know what I am speaking about and that’s not surprising, after all: the life of a bunch of Africans trying to escape from violence and starvation doesn’t look like being so important to get to a level of international resonance.
I’ll try to report what happened in brief. The beach of Scicli, near Ragusa, in the Southern part of Sicily, is a wonderful place, so nice to be the location of some popular movies of the Italian television, so nice to be the destination of many tourists in summer: it’s a great place to live but not even Scicli is a great place to die. Unfortunately, death is what awaited thirteen Eritrean guys who tried to land on that wonderful beach: their boat ran aground a few meters far from the shore and their Libyan “ferrymen” forced them (and the many others on the boat) to jump into the water, kicking and whipping the ones who tried to resist. Some of them could swim and reached the beach, many couldn’t (when you are a child in Eritrea the priorities of your parents are rather different from the ones of many Western European parents taking their kids to swimming lessons) and had to be saved by the few local lifeguards, fishermen and tourists on the scene: many but not all of them and the thirteen crosses now present on the beach of Scicli remind us of the ones who were not saved and drowned a few meters far from their “promised land”.
There are many things one could say about this event: one could remember that these dead come after other ten dead some days ago on another Sicilian shore, after too many dead on all Southern Italian coasts in these last years; one could express all the crap any human being should feel in front of new slave traders earning on the desperation of poor people escaping from incredible life conditions and looking for hope, new slave traders using the same inhuman methods of all the slave traders along history; one could praise the efforts of the people of Scicli who managed to save many human lives. Any word would, anyway, be just rhetorical and empty in front of the image of thirteen bodies of young men lying on the sand because someone considered them just like a ballast to get free from.
But this is not what I want to speak about: I hope we all share the same feelings in front of scenes like these.
What made me think about Saul of Tarsus’ words is, in fact, something else. Thirteen people had been killed (I suppose nobody could disagree about the fact that to throw a person unable to swim into the sea is a murder) in the most terrible way possible, with a ferocity with no comparison, as just another episode of a long list of other misfits of the same sort taking place almost weekly, but the news on television dedicated to this event only a three minutes report: twenty minutes on thirty of the same edition of the tv news were, on the other hand, dedicated to the risk of a political crisis provoked by the maneuvers of a party of the coalition governing Italy.
I don’t want to enter in the details of this possible political crisis, now already averted: the whole thing looks to me so shameful that it would be even degrading to mention it. What I’d like to underline is the incredible (at least to me) imbalance in reporting the two pieces of news: three minutes about 13 dead being part of a continuous carnage of poor people dying to look for hope, twenty minutes about a possible political crisis due to political maneuvers.
Are the journalists to blame for this? I don’t think so. What the journalists were doing was simply to be prone to the will of the audience and, I suppose, this is a part of their job (although many things could be said about the way media could address the interests of the audience).
What is really painful to me is this will of the audience. Why are people more interested in a possible political crisis than in the unfair dead of thirteen people? For a very simple (and, in a way, even understandable) reason: a political crisis would put Italian economy in danger, would probably touch the wallets of all the Italians. I know we are living a hard period of economic crisis, I know life is becoming a hard business for too many families, but, honestly, I can’t help thinking that there must be something very wrong in a society in which a 1% increase in VAT becomes much more important than a sort of continuous massacre of human lives, in which the decisions of a political leader about the stability of a government have more appeal on people than the dead of thirteen desperate people trying to find a better life (or simply a life) and drowning a few meters far from the European shores.
And well, I’m not just speaking about Italy: the American shutdown related to the so-called “Obama’s health care reform” tells us we are in front of a world trend. Money stands first, human being’s dignity and life just follows in the queue of values.
So, I think about those words, “there is neither bond nor free” and I feel very sad, I feel we are not so different from the young rich man who spoke to Jesus, I feel we are so far from the kingdom of brotherhood we have been asked to build… Mainly I feel the bond ones were not, as many could think, the thirteen young men whipped to jump into the water and killed by desperation and human cruelty: if we go on thinking that the welfare of our wallets is more important than the life and dignity of any of our brothers we’ll be the bond ones, the slaves of our selfishness and social myopia, forever.
- Thirteen migrants die swimming ashore in Italy (thedailystar.net)