Journal Entry, Fano, Italy, June 14, 2016
I am lounging out at the pool. The girls are dipping their feet. It is chilly. There are clouds in the sky above. Yesterday was a fun, but hectic day. My daughters (and a girlfriend) and I cooked dinner for my in-laws in our almost non-existent kitchen. The place literally heated up (think sauna) as we prepared homemade pizza, homemade sauce, homemade toppings…chickpea omlets with sauteed onions, pan roasted potatoes, two types of salad and homemade salad dressing… all with a hand mixer and a tiny stove top.
Talyor Swift and Ariana Grande playing on the stereo. Lots of bumping, spilling, mixing and laughing. Needless to say, we need the rest. So here I am lounging. Housework done. Homework done. Breakfast: done. The girls finally stopped calling Mommy and are once again splashing around in the pool. The sun magically overpowering the clouds, an old Bryan Adams song soothing me from the speakers overhead. And then, just when I close my eyes… slow down my breath, without notice it hits me… shattered by the top of the hour news.
One minute of breathless horror.
I am in Italy so the speaker was obviously broadcasting in Italian. Translations are not required. Different countries, different languages, same messages all around the globe… killer, terrorism, attack, war, stalker, suicide… amplified at a unnatural speed. This is the universal language that we hear everywhere.
My first thought was that I was glad that my daughters were too immersed in play to hear it. My second thought was that it didn’t really matter whether they heard it or not, whether they see it on a screen, read it on the front page. They feel it just as much as I felt in it in that very second. How can we escape the fear of this reality show?
This morning I read the newspaper. I don’t remember the last time that I started my morning with my eyes focused so intensely on the black and white pages. I had chosen some time ago to abandon this practice when I realized that it left me with a bitter taste in my mouth and my heart.
As I sit at a round, metal table and sip my coffee outside of a local cafe’, I watch my daughters play (really play) with a bunch of leaves, flowers and stones. This was their reality… Master Chef Junior was their game. This morning I read the paper and as I did all those emotions of fear, anxiousnesss, sadness and confusion came in like a bomb of disillusion… polluting my air.
I flipped the page to one horrendous reality after another… Not Master Chef. Not America’s Got Talent. Not The Real Housewives of New Jersey… Amateur stuff.
The stars of this show… the killer in Orlando, terrorism, attacks, wars, stalkers, suicide… Donald Trump, Hillary and their pathetically fake game with our future… local news: a man shooting his wife in front of her 5 year old son, someone’s son killing his girlfriend and then himself for jealousy, a 35 year old massage therapist found strangled in her fancy villa near Rome… overdose, theft, blood, blood and more blood… blood red in black and white. On the other side of the page, the In and Out section and glorified, old news about Chanel’s fashion show in Havana, Cuba. According to the newspaper this is what is ‘In‘.
Just another form of violence.
Ridiculously overpriced bags and shoes won’t make Cuba happier or freer. It will just make them us. Gloria Estefan, the Cuban born singer was quoted for saying that this type of exposure is good. Can’t she see that exposure to the fancy clothes, models with their fake happiness, Vin Diesel and a bunch of other actors with their smiles and their selfies will change everything… and in no time at all the fun-loving Cuban culture (up until now they have lived a type of freedom that we can’t even dream about) will be replaced with McDonald’s, manicured front lawns and smartphones? Of course she can’t. This untouched star still believes.
Instead, what I see is a population that clearly isn’t perfect (but not in war or starving to death either), but has never been depressed or distressed… always ready to dance the salsa (with or without shoes)… a country that will inevitably be transformed into US(A)… democratic, free… depressed, distressed… violent, violent and more violent…
and once again it will go unrecognized until one day some people will realize how much they once had a little bit too late. They will have nice shoes, but no time to dance.
True for every individual and entire countries as well.
Global commerce has thrown all of us to our knees. It tempts us with the bling and glamour. Politicians have become a laughingstock, a total disgrace. Social network has connected the world and literally unconnected us from the people that we live with… the people we love, even our own children.
I sip my coffee. I turn another page. With one eye I continue to read. With the other, I watch my girls turn daisies into truffles, leaves and grass and stones into crepe… I want to hope that the future will be as sweet and delectable as their innocent play.
A new friend on FB recently posted…
We let Sam watch the news with us this morning and after 3 news stories we had to turn it off. The news is worst than a horror movie these days and it makes me so sad. The stories truly stay with me and the answers to Sams questions cannot be sugar coated.
Our daughters don’t go to school, they were raised without a television at home. We prefer cd’s and our playlists to the radio and we limit computer time. Our intention is not to keep them blindfolded. We aren’t even attempting to protect. However, we do want to show them the other side, another side. Give them a choice.
As I responded to a childhood friend the other day: Way too many kids acting out. They are cold and cruel because they reflect the society they live in. A way to defend their purity, a call for attention? I totally agree that it starts at home, but unfortunately most parents are victims of everything around them and all the negative ideas that they are fed every day. It is easier to console oneself with something new and pretty, an expensive vacation, tons of technological toys. At the end of the day, it is simpler to order in and turn on the TV. But, the messages are constant and horrendously overwhelming…
Seriously scary. Often not visible to the tired or unexaming eye.
Definitely not normal, or is this what normal has become for us?
Once again I ask: What do we want to leave for our children?
Many people continue to claim that they have no time. Many are truly running out of energy. Others choose not to believe as they spend their days working and consuming… running… and their nights in front of a reality show or a violently dramatic movie to remove themselves from the real reality, the real drama… the exact same kind of violence happening on the other side of the block.
They are merely trying to protect themselves, just like the kids.
We can try to walk ahead with the blindfolds on, make ourselves think that we still believe… but there is no fooling our hearts and our souls…
We are suffering. Our kids are suffering. We are in the middle of a war and STARVING for something else…
We are extremely honest with our daughters (some say too much), but like all kids they are ALL HEART and know anyway. What are we trying to hide? Isn’t it is better to try to teach them how to deal with it and grow into more balanced, kinder human beings who know how to defend themselves in a positive way? Who know how to chose? Who can decide not to want to live in the center of so much wrong?
Chatting and tweeting and posting won’t get us anywhere. Just pretty words without substance. Donald vs. Hillary… as much as I don’t want him I truly can’t believe that she will be able to make the difference. The difference must start in the home: with us and our kids, our communities (throwing away the tube, the news, the realty shows and the elections… and taking a walk or dancing around the living room could be a start!).
We must synthesize and really connect. Reconnect. We need to imagine a new way of producing and consuming and distributing the resources and also learn to give less importance to the material things. OMG! I am going to say it… Do without! We need to change our ideas about rich and poor. We need to spread love and help our children develop their emotional intelligence, starting with ourselves. Competition, high grades, and too much structure leads to frustration, cruelty and yes, violence.
Two of the most important words Muhammad Ali left us with were: me and we. He said them at the conclusion of a speech in which he urged the graduates to use their education to go out and change the world. At that point, a student shouted through the applause: “Give us a poem!”
As the crowd quieted, Ali said “ME…WE!”
So I say: Free the kids! They are our only present, they are their only possible future!
I scoop the foam from the bottom of the white, ceramic cup enjoying the last mix of bitter and sweet. My 8 year old daughter has just placed my crepe order on the table. The morning is almost over and so is the news. What was huge last week is already given in bits and pieces. What was all over the pages last month is already old and forgotten... I read a small insert about Harambe, the 17 year old, endangered gorilla and his tragic ending in a zoo in Cincinnati… about Bretagne, the last known living search dog who helped recover victims of 9/11. He recently died in a Houston suburb at age of 16…. A slight larger one about the black kid who grew up among racism in Kentucky and succeeded in changing the world anyway. I close the paper and place it in the magazine rack hanging on the wall of the cafe’.
Harambe, Bretagne, Muhammad Ali, the woman in the villa near Rome, the life threatening virus of the moment… they will all inevitably be replaced with other news, events made normal, everyday tragedies and their victims put there for our curiosity… put out there to distract us from our reality. The unveiled truths. The hidden reasons. All that stuff that is really going on behind the scenes. You won’t find them on FOX or CNN.
We didn’t create this world and we didn’t create the reality show that we are currently living, but through our choices we are promoting it and as a result we are supporting all the things that our children see and hear on the news.
It is time to take off the blinders. It will hurt like the ripping off of a band-aid from a fresh cut. It will truly sting like a bee. But, whether we see it or not, whether we recognize it or not, people suffer and dye all over the world for unjustified reasons every single day. There is no sugar coating that. All we can do is ask ourselves: Is this what we really want, and then decide.
Which is worse Donald or Hillary?
Besides their dye jobs, it really won’t matter if we don’t decide to change. Either way, the future will be in the hands of people that don’t know the true meaning of happiness, honesty, trust or respect… people that are so displaced from reality that the only thing they can offer is the show.
Which is worse the killing in Orlando or Chanel’s fashion show in Havana…
the way I see it, they are one in the same.
xo, aka ANGO