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Go back to your country.

That’s the first thing that comes to my mind when I see you arriving here and when I look at the pictures of what we keep calling emergency but that has actually turned into a routine.

Go back to your country even if we destroyed it with our bombs and your lands have impoverished so much to deny you whatever mean of subsistence. Go back to your country even if someone will come at night and rape the women, kill the men and enlist the children.

Your life doesn’t concern us. Nor does your death.

By coming here, you force us to face our inability to deal with such a complex phenomenon which started far back in history. By coming here, you force us to face the plain truth which weakens our certainties.

With your houses destroyed under the bombs or burnt down by merciless men, you remind us that these walls, within which we create the illusion of safety, are in fact made of paper mache. You remind us that the codification of international law is a mere tinsel generating countless theories and very little action.

Unless someone monitors their implementation, words such as peace, freedom, democracy –which we study and use in our speeches with great pride- will turn into empty rooms in which the screams of tortured victims echo.

*Photo Copyright: Francesco Malavolta

You, with your ripped cloths and your journey of hope tattooed on your body, you bear witness to the atrocity the human race is capable of and you remind us that our certainties are illusionary.

You, with you university degrees in medicine, engineering, teaching…

You, with your past as farmers and memories of a long gone happy life…

You come here and want more than our compassion. Rather than being grateful for this miserable and fluctuant life we grant you, you insist on wanting to live your life to the fullest and with your hopes –for which you are willing to risk it all- you show us that we are inadequate for guaranteeing your rights which we turned into privileges.

Because, after all, besides rhetoric and political opinions, the only absolute truth is that we can see ourselves in your eyes. And you scare us by reminding us that both wind and human faith are very fickle.

These children are our children and the body of those raped women is the body of every woman. Their smiles of salvation when they touch land are like our smiles of celebration for every special days in our life: those days when you know that your life can change for the best. Among the toys collected for those children there are the sound of our kids’ laughter and the memories of our childhood: every human being has the right to a childhood and this right can not be denied.

But, at night, on my way back home the only thing that comes to mind is the fragile body of a newborn baby and her mum’s smile while she put her little girl in my harms, treating me as a friend. That little body and the unfathomable secret of this creature’s innocent breath reveal our failure as in-humans and hold the heartbeat of the entire world.

By Maria Grazia Patania

Translator F. Colantuoni