sabato 27 settembre 2008

Where PEACE is born

Translation of a book review for Centonove by Prof. A. Cavadi (March 9, 2007)


“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed”: so reads the UNESCO Act of 1945, drafted right after World War II. An elementary concept, so much so that it has generally been dismissed, but now it has been embraced by Fulvia Masi and her young daughter, Mósa Masi Tanksley, respectively author and illustrator of a delightful small book (La Pace Incomincia da Me, Il Pozzo di Giacobbe, Trapani, 2006, 32 pp., Euro 5,90, in parallel text, Italian and English).
At first glance the book seems to be written just for children, but an introductory note points out that it is actually “for children and for adults”. In fact, the main character, a “child philosopher” named Memmo, lives through “a story that is simple in its language and content, yet subtle and profound in meaning”. In other words, this book can be placed in the tradition of stories like The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, that can be read at different levels of depth, like a palimpsestum.

And indeed, even a young elementary school student can grasp Memmo’s message: world peace is a huge tree that can grow only from small seeds planted in the hearts of individuals. But the same truth – that could become the object of a roundtable discussion, Lipman’s style, as in the practice of Philosophy for Children would be taken just as seriously in symposia for adults: where the decline of the demagogic views that relieve individuals from personal responsibility gives way to the realization (gained through the lesson of psychoanalysis as well) that individual subjectivity is “the primary root of social relationships”; that such subjectivity is essentially “connected with humankind and biosphere”; that only a progressive spread in all directions of such acknowledgment can become “a cosmopolitan event” (as in La filosofia come stile di vita. Introduzione alle pratiche filosofiche, by Romano Madera and Luigi Vero Tarca, Bruno Mondadori Publ., Milano, 2003, p. 72).
The peace for which Memmo searches has many names, since many are the faces of what is against peace, of wars and violence. In particular, there is also peace intended here as cessation of the camorra kind of organized crime: the title of the book, in fact, was taken by the authors from a slogan chosen by the children of the middle and elementary school Virgilio IV in Scampia, for a rally organized in their area with the purpose of asking for “the silence of gangs’ weapons”. But, if the idea was born from a specific, circumscribed event, it grew as an insight of global proportions, toward a “universality (…) without borders (neither geographic or religious)”. Because, among the many paradoxes of peace, there is this one as well: there is no peace among nations if there is no peace within individuals, but there would then be nothing more than a pious illusion of some new age private peace in a historical-political context torn by dialectic terror of States, and by terrorism of desperate minorities.

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