Which are the first images coming to your mind if I mention “Sardinia”? Probably you immediately think about the sandy beaches of the Emerald Coast, the yachts anchored in the harbor of Porto Cervo and the rich show-offers spending their summer nights (and tons of their money) in Flavio Briatore’s “Billionaire Club”. Well you are right: Sardinia is also all these things and, actually, this is for sure the image the Italian tourist offices want to give about the island.
The problem stands in that word: “also”. What touristic brochures tend to hide is the other aspect of Sardinia, the dark one, so deeply in contrast with the glamorous vision of Emerald Coast luxurious life.
Forget for a moment about the small strip of the North-Eastern Sardinian Coast you already know (perhaps you were so lucky to spend a holiday there or, at least, you saw it through the many V.I.P. people’s photos on the pages of all gossip illustrated magazines of the world). What is, then, Sardinia? Or, better, what are, then, the 7/8 of the island?
Well, let me tell you that Sardinia is not only a sort of ethnical anomaly in Italy, inhabited by a proud, strong, hard working population of autochthonous origin (though the thing is very discussed) you can easily recognize even in the complex picture of Italian ethnical groups, with the only Italian dialect internationally considered as a language on its own, with such a peculiar moral code to result almost incomprehensible even for the “Continentals” (as they call all other Italians).
Again, Sardinia is also this. But what is most important for the life of the Sardinians is that Sardinia, the real Sardinia, is one of the poorest areas of Italy, according to some statistics the second poorest region of the Republic. According to ISTAT (the Italian government’s statistics agency), in the first quarter of 2013, Sardinia reported 452,000 inactive people, 3,200 companies bankrupted in the past five years, and 928 companies bankrupted just in 2012: quite shocking data if you keep into account that the whole island has some 1.6 million inhabitants (but is getting more and more depopulated for the constant migration of Sardinians looking for a job abroad or in other regions).
In the past, the zinc mines used to be a great source of income and granite was also exported all over the world, cool was extracted in Sulcis area and there were also projects for plants for the extraction of hydrocarbons. In the past: now the mines, all owned by non-Sardinians, are closed, now the flourishing secular handicraft industry is languishing and only last year around 3000 craftsmen lost their job, now even the promising IT industry established by a local entrepreneur near Cagliari is living the effects of the crisis and of the international concurrency. Now 3 Sardinians out of 20 have no job; now 1 young Sardinian out of 4 can’t find a job. The reasons are many: the Island has been exploited by many non-local enterpreneurs later finding more lucrative to move their business in other European areas, there are objective high costs of handling goods (the costs to carry products from and to Sardinia are twice the ones in Italy and three times more than in Europe), the orography of the place makes it difficult to create plants, etc.
And so? So Sardinia is now living mainly on tourism (but, pay attention, just a few touristic structures are owned by Sardinians) on its beautiful coast and on the traditional sources of income, agriculture and sheep-breeding, in less famous areas.
It is in this frame that the cyclone “Cleopatra” hit the island. Probably some missed the piece of news as, in the end, what happened is just a sort of “miniature” of the Philippine tragedy. In brief: an incredible amount of rain devastated the North of Sardinia, many rivers overflew, the area around the city of Olbia was the worst-hit (in some places the water was up to 3m -10ft- deep), at least 19 people, including four children, have been killed and a number of people are still reported missing after rivers burst their banks, cars were swept away and bridges collapsed, hundreds of people have been moved from their homes and hundreds of farms have been destroyed, while the sheep farmers have lost thousands of animals.
A couple of days ago, watching the images of the devastation in his land on tv, a Sardinian friend of mine was crying and asked me a question which heavily touched me: “Why is God doing this to us? Sardinia is already so poor! Does He hate us?”
How many people thought the same thing? How many people thought the same thing in so many other similar occasions?
Well, I have just one answer to my friend and to all the others asking this question: God has nothing to do with all this, human beings have!
Is Sardinia a poor island? No! It is virtually an incredibly rich, beautiful island, part of an incredibly rich, beautiful world, able to give food and life to everybody, to grant work, wellness and wealth to everybody. It is… or, better, it could have been, probably it could still be…
In Genesis 1, at the end of practically every creative act by God, we read “And God saw that it was good”. Could anybody, having the luck to observe a pristine, untouched natural spot and the perfect mechanism ruling it, deny the truth of these words? I don’t think so. Then, going on reading we find, after the creation of the human genre: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth”. Here we come to the main point. God gave us this world as a gift, He trusted in us, he allowed us to subdue nature… But he also ordered to us to be fruitful! Shall we refer that adjective only to the idea we must multiply? I would say this would be limiting: He pronounces this command in the moment in which He gives His gift to humanity! Be fruitful! It’s like if He was saying: “Look, this is all yours, I give it to you to administer, do the best you can to get fruit from this enormous treasure I fully commend to you all!”
The result? Well, I suppose I don’t need to say anything, but, anyway, I will say something, just three things directly related to what happened in Sardinia.
1) why is Sardinia becoming so poor and is so hit by the crisis? Because unscrupulous entrepreneurs and corporations from everywhere have decided to take advantage of the island and of its people until the thing was helpful and profitable (thanks to the State helps to the Island entrepreneurship), then to throw Sardinia to the winds when profits have diminished, without thinking about the fact that they were putting thousands of people out on the street;
2) why is the number of environmental disaster increasing year after year (actually some sources report an increase by 1000% in last 45 years) all over the world, Mediterranean Sea included? Should I need to say? Do terms like “hole in the ozone belt”, “global warming”, “melting of glaciers” or “air pollution” sound familiar to you? Just to mention, a few days ago the Warsaw Worlds Conference about Environment resulted in a total failure: too many countries were refusing to control emissions, to accept environment-friendly protocols, etc. Probably the politicians of this countries and the members of the lobbies controlling them feel safe enough not to care about the tragedies, the destructions, the dead their behavior is provoking: they are not the ones dying, they are not the ones losing everything… Just poor, common people are…;
3) how could it happen that an announced typhoon could provoke 19 (an possibly more) dead in Sardinia? Go and ask to the construction companies that have built residential condos on the banks of notoriously dangerous rivers. Go and ask to the subcontractors that pushed up the cost of construction of dams till the point to force the stop work as funds were exhausted. Go and ask to the firms that built roads and bridges with sand and third choice materials to increase their profits. Go and ask to the local and national politicians who approved continuous building amnesties only to save their luxury villas from demolition and to be able to raise new funds for their campaigns…
“Be fruitful” meant something different from “be fruitful for yourself and your lobby filling your safes”: the world was a gift from God to all of us, not just to a selected bunch of crafty bastards!
So, don’t put the blame on God for what is happening: God gave the gift to us, human greed is destroying it and probably a few things are as far as greed from God and His plans if we read; “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon”.
And let me tell you that watching the images of the Sardinian disaster and of many other disasters before it, day after day I understand more the sentence: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God”, but, in the meanwhile, people go on dying…
- Deadly storms and floods in Sardinia (bbc.co.uk)