Italy, let’s build a network!

In these weeks when the Coronavirus emergency is causing the paralysis of most human activities, many different feelings coexist.

No doubt we can only rejoice in witnessing that spring is coming back undaunted even in the absence of the human beings and the images depicting wild animals regaining possession of natural spaces can only be good for the heart.

Of course, these feelings are accompanied by a sense of sadness if we realize how we were living before being forced home.

But we cannot but maintain a positive attitude and simply learn the lesson: we must go back to a more humane lifestyle. This means slower pace, more empathy, more collaboration and less competition.

Perhaps, even if for years people and institutions have moved in favour of sustainability from different parts of the planet, we have all made a mistake. Maybe that word, sustainability, was too abstract a concept for most of us, maybe it didn’t exactly convey the correct idea. Maybe too much emphasis was on the planet in a broad sense and little on the self of individual people. Perhaps it would have been good idea to replace the term “sustainable” with “humane”, and then perhaps someone would have made the connection. But unfortunately that did not happen. If it is true that sustainability means a development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, it is also true that especially in recent times this word was abused and had been emptied of its original meaning.

We used to fill our mouths with this beautiful word, advertisements were full of slogans praising sustainability, but how many of us really and concretely committed themselves to a lifestyle different from the prevailing one?

We should have had the foresight to understand that despite the good words and our best intentions, we were still too accelerated in all our events and activities and therefore we needed to pull the brake. We didn’t pull it, someone else did so, what matters is that someone has finally pulled that brake!

The other day I saw an image with a quote, it was one of many that can be found online but it struck me. It said: “If you can’t go outside, go inside”.

Now, in the tranquillity of our homes and in the silence of our empty, immobilized cities, we have a great opportunity: to look back, then look inside and finally look forward.

We finally have the opportunity to decide which direction we want to give to our existence, each of us has the opportunity to become the director of his or her own life and to stop being at the mercy of events.

So, if we want to change our direction compared to where we were heading to before this forced detention, we will necessarily have to change the way we interact with each other and with the Planet. It will therefore be essential to build a network.

But what does “networking” mean? it means that we will have to put aside our ego once and for all, which has guided us so far leading us to the edge of the ravine.

We will have to start collaborating with each other, in everyday life, in family and private relations as well as in professional matters. We will have to keep in mind the days we are living in these weeks and focus ourselves on the things we really need to be interested in. Everything else, thoughts, complaints, concerns, must be ignored! We will have to start developing a broader vision: both in minor and more important issues it will no longer be a matter of caring for our own garden while checking out if the neighbor’s grass is greener, because since the very beginning we will have to consider our garden and that of our neighbor as one, as a continuum. We will therefore have to stop waging war, declared or not, to each other and we will have to necessarily start collaborating in a union that goes beyond blood ties.

How can we carry out such a process? Building a net is actually easier than one may think. Everyone can start from their own possibilities and from their own area of ​​competence. I am  young and strong? I can go shopping for the elderly neighbour. I am old and love cooking? I can prepare dinner for the young neighbours who spend their days at work or university. I am a baker? I can decide at the end of the day to donate the unsold bread to a kennel. I have a kennel? I can collaborate with associations that deal with the elderly or people with disabilities to start a pet therapy service that could be beneficial to both humans and pets. I have a farm and I produce wine? Instead of competing with my vineyard neighbour, I can work with him to organize a farmers’ market all together or to contact the same cork supplier in order to cut costs. I am a wellness professional? Instead of spending time and money to publish promotional articles on glossy magazines or online, I join forces with some colleagues, even with my own specialization, and together we can propose a prevention and well-being program to citizens, in order to reach more people through facts and not through words. And then we can all commit ourselves not to raise prices as soon as this crisis is overcome. If we all keep prices low, there will be more people able to spend and therefore more money will circulate, promoting the recovery of the economy.

These are just a few examples, even simplistic ones if you want, but they give an idea of how we need to change our attitude and how easy it can be to build a network.

“Yes,” you might say, “but we were taught that competition is the basis of trade and therefore if we eliminate it, how can we sell more?”.

This question also came to my mind initially but then I also asked myself: “Would we really loose everything if we abandoned the commercial practices adopted so far, namely those based on free competition?”, “Where did competition take us?!?” and again “If we started networking, wouldn’t we all earn something?”.

I am convinced that if we were able to create a broad network based on respect and a principle of equality not only could everyone earn in terms of money, but we could all gain more free time, less anger and greater satisfaction, more inner peace.

To achieve this, the net will have to be a very extensive, flexible and welcoming one. It needs to develop like wildfire, that is, expanding from the very centre towards outside. So, the network needs to start from ourselves, then expand to those around us, then touch someone a little further than we had contemplated at the beginning until it includes the largest number of people.

Before, instead, when we were looking for allies, we threw the net as far as possible to screw those who were closest to us. We looked for commercial partners abroad to be more competitive. But based on what were we able to be more competitive? Often, too often, we resulted more competitive simply based on the fact that, by going elsewhere, we had access to products, raw materials or services at lower prices. Let’s admit it: we often didn’t care about the quality, something that increased the price of Italian goods. So, we started to turn more and more towards foreign markets, until we almost completely abandoned small and medium-sized Italian companies. At the same time, we were told the globalization fairytale, something we totally believed in. It was like a clever spell, a trap we fell too easily into.

Now, suddenly and quite ironically, this pandemic, which has apparently blocked and immobilized everything, has arrived like the knight coming to save us, if only we are able to grasp its good intentions. If we are able to learn from this forced detention that we have been given a chance of rebirth, then we will be saved. We will be ready to start again, with the awareness that the recovery will be tough but it will also be exciting if done in these new ways.

So, let’s bet on our salvation, ourselves, our neighbours, our ex-competitors now partners, on Italy and the Made in Italy. A boot-shaped net will be built, a boot no longer willing to be walked on!

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