Friday, December 14, 2007

Italians? Sad people!

Really funny! Ian Fisher, correspondant from Rome of New York Times, wrote that Italians are the saddest people in Europe.
Reasonable that they point their finger against us because we have a system in which the services do not properly work, because our economy is not strong as the American one is, because we are full of contraddictions. But now.... we are also sad!
Maybe this Ian Fisher, expert on Italy of the prestigious newspaper, realized only now that we do not travel riding donkeys anymore, that Sofia Loren became an old lady, and that there's not a lot of us that spend our time playing mandulin and singing O Sole Mio. I would like to reassure anybody that read this blog with friendly attitude that i, Dario, am not sad at all.
Instead, if i were Ian Fisher, i would look into my own house and would notice that i belong to a Nation of invaders, that i have a dull President that drives a Nation against the interests of the citizens and the rest of the world, in order to favour the interests of the big multi-national companies that support him. I would try to understand how could it happen to voluntarily accept restrictions of personal freedoms and not to have any idea on how to have them back. Frankly, if i were Ian Fisher, i would ask myself if it is really appropriate to be so happy. Ian Fisher, if you are by chance reading, please accept this unbiased suggestion from a cheerful Italian. Go back to where you came from and have a laugh in a happy Country.


rowena said...

I think you are taking the article written by Fisher as something that he devised on his own. On the contrary, he is merely mentioning the economy's growing instability in Italy; the research led by italian economist Luisa Corrado which claims the citizens to be the least content in W.Europe; and popular spokespeople like Grillo who have raised the ire of a lot of disgusted people who are fed up with the bullshit. Roll that all together and it would seem that tutti gli italiani sono tristi.

How about what if italians are supposedly sad (I'm glad that you're not!). In the states, everyone is mad! - and I mean that in an angry way. Mad at Bush, mad at schoolmates (school shootings seem to be happening more and more), mad at whomever they want to. Eh, with the worthless dollar, I suppose they have fair reason to be pissed off all the time.

In closing I would like to add that the mental well-being of italians will probably not be of any concern to those who read the article. Who cares? In fact, I think it would be much more alarming if say, WalMart invaded Siena or Venice sank into the sea. It would be like losing a bit of culture and history. ;-)

tychecat said...

Dario, you should send this to the NYT - ask if they need an Italian correspondent.
The US presently seems to be a country suffering from as sort of bipolar personality disorder - brought on by the realization that they made some really really bad decisions in the 2004 election.
Hopefully, good sense will prevail and we will get back on track - this can be done fairly quickly as politics go - within a year.

Genevera said...

No; I think Italians are wrongly perceived as less-happy because they are such a frank and open people.

If you ask an American "how are you?" they will answer "just fine!" even if they are miserable. Why? Because we all assume that no one wants to hear about our problems; they don't REALLY want to know how we are doing. "How are you" is just a greeting.

An Italian, instead, will say something like "Beh; tiriamo avanti!" thus letting you know if they are having a bad day. I prefer the Italian (open) way of communicating!

dario said...

Ahah.... when i read "beh; tiriamo avanti!" i couldn't resist to smile, because, yes, you cought a typical taste of Italian attitude.
I remember an episode, in which i had a colleague from Naples (someone could say that Napoletani are more Italian than the other Italians). We used have everyday lunch (paid by the company) in a local trattoria where the food was really good. He complained anyway with the company. Once i asked him why to complain, he answered that if one does not complains he can only make his situation worse, so the food could become worse.
If to "Come stai?" one answer "Bene" it means that he's ok, he's satisfied and he doesn't have ambitions to be better. If one is "bene", he is implicitly expected to help who is not enough "bene". Instead if one answers "tiriamo avanti" that's like answering "i am not bad, but i am not so good that i cannot work make it better"
Anyway, atleast in my area, "tiriamo avanti" is a not very used expression anymore, the typical answer is now "bene". I think that, anyway, both of those answers are only formal expression, just like the American "just fine", and if anybody would believe to be able to judge italians towards things like those expressions, well, i would feel authorized to think that Americans are just fine because they answer "just fine".

Thinking to the article, what feels really weird is to be under the lens of a magnifier glass being observed and judged by somebody that is not interested to understand us. There's a link in the page of the article called "A life less dolce". The tite itself is already something to think about.
"La dolce vita" is a movie filmed in 1960. From then 47 years passed. The protagonists of economy and normal life in Italy are now the children of the children of the children of the children of the protagonists in 1960. And now, our funny journalist, expects to find "la dolce vita", maybe in black and white.

I have something to say about the comments in the pages of that photo gallery.
- Luca Cordero di Montezemolo does not really represent the typical Italian. He was born extremely rich in a "noble" Family and then he became the President of Ferrari company, and the leader of Confindustria, which is a political-economical foundation that groups industrial capital owners.
- Beppe grillo is somehow comparable to Michael Moore. I think they are really positive character each for their society, because they offer a different point of view. At the end what they say is "Things are not good for this and that, but we can do this other and that other to make them better". If a lot of people follow B. Grillo, that means that a lot of people still believe that the world (or atleast Italy) can change. I have seen/read something by Mr. Moore, and i think it's sad for those Americans that do not even pay attention to what he says, because that means they are resigned that things cannot change. How many Americans ever read anything by Mr. Grillo?
- Kindergartens (atleast those ones that those parents are complaining of) in Italy are state-supported structures. Maybe they have big problems and i am at those parents' side, but i don't think in America things are much better. Probably in America they work much better, but the parents are the one that pay. Am i wrong?
- Young people in Italy live at the parents' house even after 30 because, by culture, Italians use to move out from the family when they build a new family, so that when they get married. And usually, when they get married, they also buy or to rent a new house for the new family, and in Italy, houses are really very expensive, compared to salaries, much more than what do they cost those pretty wooden houses down there in America.
- Small-medium sized businesses in Italy are frightened to the more competitive Chinese emergent economy. There is undoubt that for westernian business that is a big problem. Also the rest of the world is scared by China. Infact the whole political interference of America in the world politics is meant to control Oil, firstly in order to cut the wings to any Chinese economy thirsty of that black liquid. So, where our weapons is trying to push that (maybe obsolete) "Made in Italy", American weapons are bombs on the head of innocent people in the middle east. But our journalist do not mention this, i think.

That's what bothers me, the idea to be judged and the superficiality of who is trying to judge.

Italian Roots

Aaron Abitia said...

Ah Dario my friend! I cannot resist to comment here on the first thing you said:

"Instead, if i were Ian Fisher, i would look into my own house and would notice that i belong to a Nation of invaders"

I grew up in Addis Ababa and know that my beloved Italy invaded my beloved Ethiopia. In fact, Italy tried twice and succeeded once, first in the 1890s and second in 1936. Sure, it happened under Mussolini, but all invasions happen under some particular leader. Also, in the history of the world, say, going back to the Roman Empire (which also featured invasions!), the year of 1936 is fairly recent. In the end, Italian military leaders claimed to have killed 760,000 Ethiopian soldiers and civilians in the campaign to annex Ethiopia, which was one of the last countries in Africa to resist invasion.

The reason for Italy's invasion of Ethiopia was pure colonialism. Juxtapose that with America's current invasions (Afghanistan and Iraq). In the case of Afghanistan, it was in response to 9/11, to get Bin Laden, who, even if he was once an "ally" of the U.S., still did something horrible to us.

In the case of Iraq, let's say that the U.S. invaded that country for four possible reasons: 1. WMD, 2. Oil, 3. To establish a further U.S. presence in the middle east for the "war on terrorism", or 4. All of the above. Even if you chose the worst of those reasons, whatever you decide it to be, it could be considered better than colonialism; if you decided to go for it all and say we did it purely for colonialism, then we're equal with Italia. My point here in bringing up Afghanistan and Iraq is not to argue the merits--or lack of merits--of those invasions, but to point out that even if you said the U.S. made those invasions for colonialism, which would be a difficult argument to make with 100% certainty, it would be no worse than Italy in 1936, or Britain or France, or, or, or.

So, an invasion is an invasion, no matter when it happened. America, Italy and many other Western European countries have all taken their turn at it!


dario said...

Aaron... I thought your birthplace town was spelt "Abeba" and not "Ababa", so i looked on the net and i found it could be spelt in both the ways... you see... never stop to learn, in this life.

First of all i would say that, speaking of America as invaders, i was not thinking on the military invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, but instead on the economical invasion of pretty much the whole world. Because actually it's not the political world that impose us the products we have to consume, but the big american companies do. But this is a big story and i dont have enough time now to tell it all.
Anyway, yes, also looking only on the military invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, America could be consider an invader.
Now, i did never want to compare the so nicely democratic America with a dictature as it was the fascist Italy in the beginning of the century. You did.
If you like i am happy to admit that American democracy is much better than fascism and nazism. Thanks god!!! Yo! we found a point in which Ian Fisher would agree too. Democracy is better than Fascism.
Said that, you would admit that it would have been really bizarre to hear Mussolini in person chatting with Hitler and saying something like "Uh oh those brazilian are really a sad people ah?" What would you expect those brazilian answer to such an hypocritical sentence?
The very difference between Mussolini and Bush is that nowadays Italians repudiate and disown fascism, while Americans (atleast Ian Fisher do) are proud of their wonderful democracy. That wonderful democracy that YOU compared to fascist dictature.


Aaron Abitia said...

Haha, yes, you are quite right...growing up there it was "Abeba", but it was only when we returned to America that people would look at me crossly when I said "Abeba", so I got used to saying "Ababa".

And yes, you are right about that article by Ian Fisher; it was kind of silly and very broad stroked...I agree with you. He made a lot of jumps in logic, if you want to call it "logic", ha.

Mussolini was indeed a nutcase and a Fascist, as we both know, and my purpose for even bringing him up was only because he was the last Italian to invade Ethiopia. But yes, a bad man he was. As an aside, I know a lady who worked for General Eisenhower at that time, and she was working in her office and heard a commotion and followed the pack to a town square and saw Mussolini hanging there upside down...she even showed me the pictures she took. Incredible! But yes, thank God Italy repudiated him!

I have heard many people refer to Bush as a Fascist too, which I reject, and any comparison between Bush's America and Mussolini's Italy was I said, it was only to illustrate that both countries could be said to be invaders!

I sincerely love my country, and while we do some things wrong, we do many things right, it is just that many people both inside and outside of our country only want to talk about the bad sometimes, not that I'm saying you are one of those people! And having Italian blood in me, I love Italia as well.

Such is the duality of people and countries...we do things right and do things wrong, but then that presupposes that one person's definition of right and wrong are the same, which of course is not the case. Everything in that regard becomes subjective. There is such anger and hostility and arguing here in America right now, of course, but sometimes I think it makes little sense to argue because two people will never agree simply because of that subjectivity.

A case in point is, a person who supports McCain is routinely called "ignorant" or "stupid" or "crazy" or "racist" by Obama supporters; the reverse is true of Obama supporters by McCain supporters. Can't a person support either one of those candidates not because they are ignorant or stupid or crazy or racist, but because they just like and support them, pure and simple? Anyway, I didn't mean to go into politics.

Good conversation. Ciao!

dario said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dario said...

Writing this comment i found out one of my typical problems of my miserable English: differenciate the word "people" meaning, as a singular, the set of individuals in a nation, and as the plural of the word persons.
Let me use the uncorrect word "persons" as the plural of person, and "people" as the nation of persons, in order to try to be clear.

I completely agree with you. Some behavior of one state like Italy or USA, due by politics, military, economy... don't have to be confused with the attitude of the single persons in that State.
That is a mistake also for who deeply knows the politics, military, economy on one side and the culture of the single people on the other. And, apparently, Ian Fisher doesn't have a deep knowledge of one nor the other about Italy.

Just to make an example, if you know Italian politics, it's easy to notice that the Right party, which is leading the government, and mainly Silvio Berlusconi the Prime Miniester, are corrupted and dishonest. One example is, for example, the fact that the Prime Minister is implied in some illegal fact, but he made some laws to tie the Magistracy in the processes he is involved (it's known in Italy as Lodo Alfano, a special law that locks any processes in which one of the four main State Offices [Presidente della Repubblica, Presidente della Camera, Presidente del Senato e Presidente del Consiglio - or Prime Minister] is accused). So, the Prime Minister, leader of the government (executive power) suggests a law to the Parliament (legislative power) and induces the parties belonging to the majority to vote it so that he can tie the Magistracy (juridical power). For what? To protect himself in a process.
That's a shame!
And that is just an example of how Jackass Berlusconi and his Friends are leading Italy, and i could continue for hours telling you things like these about how bad is Italian politics.
And what about economy?
And what about public services? That if you send a mail you don't really know if you will be so fortunate to have it delivered to destination?

No, i am not proud, under these points of view, to be Italian. I don't think that Italy is a very good example of how a State should work.

On the other hand i am proud to be Italian because of culture. As a single person i grew up as i am because of culture. In my cultural "genetics" there are things that directly came from the Roman Empire. And even before, from the Etrurians.
Just to make an example, one of my favorite plates is casseula. It's a kind of pork meat stewed with cabbages... That plate, which is typically Lumbard, came from centuries and centuries, and there is not a written official recipe because it is given from grandma to mother, from mother to daughter.... Now, i believe that outside Italy there is a lot of people that like pork meat and cabbage, and can appreciate the way casseula is cooked. But i don't believe at all that anybody coming from outside Italy, or more specifically from outside Lombardy, can really appreciate casseula as a cultural fact. Because the taste of cabbage and pork in the context of casseula, which is a plate rooted in the centuries in my culture, has not a big lot to do with the ingredients and the cooking, but instead of culture.
And that is a thing that one cannot understand if he doesn't live in Italy and doesnt succeed in making Italian culture as his own culture.
Some other places have similar histories, but in Italy this is realized in the highest grade.

Now you can go to Pizza Hut or in the best pizzeria napoletana, and maybe you can like the pizza they serve, but i don't think you can really appreciate what that pizza means for real. Because it doesn't belong to your culture.

I am a happy person, in general, and my way to be itself, my culture, my happiness is strictly related to my being Italian. So, i am Italian, i am proud to be Italian and i am happy to be Italian, because of my culture.

Now here it comes Ian Fisher to say that Italians are sad because for economy, because for the fact that we don't go out from the family untill after 30yo...
That's arrogant.

I admit that i made the same mistake (using the things i don't like of America to make a critic to Americans as persons) in my post. But i made it on purpose. And it had the expected effect: you felt touched by my words.
Dario generalizes and say that America is a people of invaders. You could say that you, Aaron, are not an invader at all. That's a generalization that does not apply to the American Persons, although it applies to America considered as a State.
The same way i feel when i read that article by Ian Fisher.