The memory of the day


History is too important a profession to leave it in the hands of partisans of any stripe or fanatics ready to foolishly echo the interpretations of the parties themselves.

History is the entire human story, the whole set of ideas, beliefs, habits, small daily gestures, clashes and encounters, which determine how the most sentient, but not always reasoning species on this planet carries out its life through time. .

A time that the most elite among us cannot even univocally define. We are small beacons of consciousness that turn on and off within such a mystery that we cannot even count on the existence of starlight. Depending on their distance, in fact, it was emitted tens or hundreds of years ago, although we see it now. They may have disappeared in the meantime, and today, in our shell of time, we look at a light that does not exist, but which still shines for us.

Just as for Leopardi's nocturnal traveler every star is important to find the way, so too for the historian every testimony of the past is important to trace the truth. Turning off a voice, destroying a monument, erasing a reflection, prohibiting by law or social convention the free reading and interpretation of sources or part of them, is a crime against thought.

A crime that is perpetrated by any system of power pro tempore, which to justify its existence, legitimize its inevitability, discourage any possibility of criticism of its actions, tries to erase and demonize what was there before, whether you deserve it or not.

This attempt to perpetuate its influence on how history is told remains intact even when the system of power that supported it is extinguished. And so it happens that the family members of Mr. Savoia, recently deceased, ask that their relative be buried - and remembered at the same time - in a place where the memory of what they were is preserved. As Ugo Foscolo well said, the urn in which one is placed is fundamental for perpetuating the legacy of affection that one leaves. And being placed in a place not designated to collective memory means the definitive extinction of that legacy and the end of the self-deception of still counting for something.

And in the same way, the system of power - understood in a general and non-deteriorating sense - that has existed in Italy since the end of the Second World War has exerted its influence on what deserved to be remembered, and what not. Great importance was given to some events and some deaths, because they were perceived as their own and as worthy of memory. Others have long been denied memory and even existence, such as the thousands of Italian deaths in the foibe.

The denial of evil is a perfectly understandable individual and social phenomenon. Every individual and every society defines itself as inherently good and just. And they do it subjectively and above all in comparison to others. The affirmation of one's own history as intrinsically better than that of others is the basic assumption on which a certain type of self-esteem is based. Therefore, accepting that we are capable of doing evil just like anyone else undermines our own identity, and facts, documents and ideas that put us in front of the mirror demonstrating precisely this must be canceled at all costs.

For those seeking the truth, self-esteem and positive comparison of oneself with others has no value. And for a historian, one of the few universal truths is that pro tempore parties do not matter, while human lives, each little star in the midst of the sky of time, are all that matters.

Every human being learns this truth when, outside the liturgies of the days of remembrance, he experiences a personal loss. It is then that the days of memory are transformed into the memory of the day, the one after which nothing will be the same. The one in which each of us will have a swallow gone away flying in the wrong sky.

Ferdinando Scala