It’s taking me a while to adjust to the idea we’re into a New Year. The best advice I’ve come across is probably from Queen Elisabeth II in her Xmas message to our Brexiting friends:
”…take a deep breath…”.
Very apt. We got off to a decent enough start here in Rome, despite Ms Mayor’s last minute ukase banning all fireworks for the traditional celebrations. The legal wording was dubious so happily it was struck down by a Regional higher court. One of the aims of her diktat was “to protect animals”, with no regard whatsoever for the high percentage of our local multicultural citizenship – including Neapolitans- who know that starting off the year without bothering to scare off evils spirits is a very bad idea.
In any case, Roman New Year’s Eve did happen, a bland and much tamer version than in the past. It was downright boring according to most first-hand accounts. Yet the comedian turned head of grassroots party claimed it was a success, and posted a triumphant photo of lovely fireworks next to the Coliseum on Facebook. It was almost immediately debunked as a photo of the previous year’s celebrations – on the very same day he ranted against government sources who want to combat fake information on social websites!
The general mood is glum, with most Romans passively resigned to the blunders, inexperience, immobility and lack of projects of this municipal junta. Not to mention collapsing infrastructure and basic services. “No” is the municipal all-round motto, rather than risk failure by attempting anything. No to our Olympic Games candidature, no to fireworks, no to the AS Roma new stadium complex…
What’s more worrying is that on a national level, vote-getting populism has inspired the comedian-head of party to veer towards a mix of positions dangerously close to the extremes of the political spectrum: on one hand against immigrants, on the other with anti-EU and pro-Putin declarations. And some are pining to reinstate the labour laws of … 1970. I’m not joking.
The nature of the Universe is change, just not counter-clockwise, so the zeitgeist is disturbing. Whatsmore, you vote for change only when you have a clear idea of where/how to proceed, and know that the skills to do so are there. Too many people would love to simply wind back the clock.
On a positive note, tomorrow January 6 is the Christian celebration of the Three Kings, a timely reminder that our civilization is the product of multiple ethnic and cultural ancestries. The big hitch is that here the Three Kings are totally disregarded, as Italians chose to celebrate the pagan “Befana” instead!
A witch-like old lady on her broom to fly us back into the past?