Europe is a crucible of populations coming from every corner of the earth, of destinies, of suffering, of struggles, of dreams.
About a half million years ago, some women and men of a yet-unseen species – a species that had just staggered up on its back paws – arrived in this boreal continent after an endless walk. Their walk had spanned over several generations and crossed a world as mysterious and blinding as an apparition.
From then on, the history of Europe has been an array of bold inventions, of dreams coming true after seeming all but impossible. It has also been a history of oppression, injustice, war, genocide – leading up to the latest European war, perhaps the greatest ever fought on this planet, and the absolute horror of the Holocaust.
Europe, as we are facing it over the past years, seems spell-bound into paralysis, leaving no more possibility to greatness. National, short-sighted selfishness, opportunism, double-crossings, open smiles hiding secret enmities, deceptions, suspects, old wars carried further with new means, the new financial tyranny raised as a sole living horizon: all this dispossesses citizens of any understanding of what is really going on, of any possible participation, any transcendence: democracy is increasingly often a mere façade, behind which multinational entities have for years been at work obeying to no collective control, while a new financial caste – responding only to its ruthless inner drives – moves as a plague of locusts leaving behind itself deserts and pain, while the eyes of masses are all staring on the ignoble gestures of other, declining, political castes…
And in the meantime, elsewhere in the world, ancient and new giants are rising, often following and adopting the same implosive and futureless dynamics that European powers have, over time, pursued.
And in the meantime we’re using only a tiny fraction, around 2%, of the surface of a mid-sized planet born around 4.5 billion years ago, rotating around one among billions of gas stars, burning in a secondary branch of one among the billions of galaxies populating the universe.
During the latest Word War, in the Ventotene prison, Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi envisioned the cost of the two devastating conflicts, and the several totalitarianisms, recently born in this small continent; they saw a way out, and a new, different beginning, in a free, united, federal Europe. Others before them had dreamed of Europe as a community of peoples in opposition to the oppressive ruling classes of their times: Michelet, Guizot, Mazzini, Cattaneo… After them, through a series of wide-ranging political acts, men like De Gasperi, Schuman and many others have started making this dream come true.
How far is Europe as we now see it from what its founders had dreamed of!
What could be, in today’s interconnected world, a new place for Europe? What Europe could offer today is not a new installment of its old arrogance, dating back to when it colonized and expropriated huge expanses of land with the pretext of civilization, slaughtering their inhabitants and laying claim on their resources and economies. But neither is it the melancholic, disillusioned wisdom of survivors from a graveyard-continent now confined to a dead track. Europe as we dream it is united and still capable of experimentation, still capable of greatness and vision, still able to beget a new, different possibility of life on this overcrowded, exhausted planet; a new adventure, in a crucial moment of our species, which declared itself to be the most intelligent on Earth and subsequently went on to act as the most obtuse, the most rapacious, the most unrepentant, the most suicidal.
We cannot keep wallowing in resentment and accusations, while at the same time expecting everything from above, from increasingly self-referential organisms which have proven unable to break out of their own orbit and their dead-end path. We must find the courage to make an autonomous, prefigurative gesture, to send a signal, to show that the peoples of Europe want to break the spell and get moving once again, and play a part in the birth of a new continent.
After walking from Milan to Naples to stitch up Italy with our own steps, last year, under the title Cammina cammina – and after a long, irradiating journey from every cardinal point in our country to its earthquake-stricken heart in L’Aquila, which took place over the past few months under the title Stella d’Italia – we, Il primo amore, a magazine and association, want to offer our small contribution to this dream, proposing a walk from Italy to Strasbourg, seat of the European Parliament, along the pilgrims’ old Via Francigena; we will call it Freccia d’Europa. The walk will start in Italy but is open to walkers from all European countries on our path, and from others, even further, converging on our arrow’s head in order to shoot it again.
We shall start from Mantua; at its doors, a few years back, the embraced skeletons of a young man and woman were found, dating back to prehistory and currently kept in the city’s Archaeological Museum.
This is where we want to start.
We want to say Europe began much earlier: before its history, before its terrible wars and genocides. And it can continue after them, and it will, in ways and forms that we now cannot even begin to imagine but in the invention of which we can play a part.
The organization of this new walk will be paralleled by the formulation of ideas and proposals that we shall disseminate as they develop, through our websites. But we also want to be a go-between for the ideas and proposals of other associations and individuals, to share them with as many Italian and European citizens as we will be able to reach. And to make them travel – through the very movement of our own bodies – in every public occasion, in every setting institutional or otherwise, that will be willing to welcome and hear us.
(Traduzione di Vincenzo Latronico)