We are all passengers. We pass through this earthly existence knowing nothing but transience. And particularly because we do not hold in hand the wheel which steers the voyage of our life, we control neither the speed, nor the duration, nor the destination. We live this existence, the only one we have, contenting ourselves by looking out the window. Just like passengers. Knowing full well that nothing on earth lasts forever, that one day or another we will arrive at the terminal, and get off.
We learned that happiness is only a momentary state. One day or another, human social relationships will break down, the alarm clock brings us back to our daily duties, the disappointments leave their collection of emotional scars. And happiness vanishes.
We learned that love is an ephemeral pleasure. One day or another, the heart no longer beats wildly, the enchantment of glances breaks down, desire flags. And love dies.
We learned that trust is a reversible choice. One day or another, the promises are not kept, the platforms are not respected, the lies return to the surface. And trust disappears.
We learned that peace is an uncertain value. One day or another, an Italian protester is shot in the street, a Spanish commuter is torn to shreds on a train, an Iraqi civilian is bombarded in his home. And peace passes away.
We learned that work is a provisional occupation. One day or another, technology leaps forward, the sector is saturated, the market is going into a crisis. And there is no longer any work.
So, we learned that all of our life is transitory and precarious. We cannot choose what passes by the window, nor those who are seated around us. Whatever happens, happens; useless to protest, besides it’s forbidden to talk to the driver. This is why nothing which happens seems to touch us. Like passengers on public transit sitting mute and immobile in the face of an aggression, the passengers of life stay mute and immobile in the face of every surprise.
So we push ourselves to our desires here and now, quickly before it’s too late, before the fragility of our life renders us blind, insensitive, resigned. So we are not surprised to learn that freedom is also a provisional condition. Freedom, too, of course. That which once constituted the principal reason for living, fighting, and dying, today takes on the appearance of an indispensable privilege for a few, superfluous for many. One day or another, it can happen to anyone to be accused of travelling with gas in the vehicle (this happened in Sassari, two arrests), of receiving a “suspicious” letter in the mail (this happened in Pisa, five arrests), of reacting to the round-ups of foreign street merchants (this happened in Genoa, two arrests), of protesting against the imprisonment of those guilty of being born elsewhere (this happened in Lecce, one arrest), of having participated two years earlier in a brawl with fascists (this happened in Rovereto, six arrests). And freedom ends there. These are the things that happen to those who, tired of being spectators of the journey, want to get off the social machine, launched upon its murderous and reductive course, at any cost. In sum, to those who obstinately continue to think that freedom is still an essential reason to live and to fight.
To all the others, to the peaceful passengers, we wish you a pleasant trip.
And don’t forget to recycle your ticket.
[Flier which circulated in Rovereto around July 22, 2004]