I can’t forget that day 22 years ago, May 23. I was just a young girl but I remember spending time in my garden during a warm and quiet afternoon. Then the news struck: Giovanni Falcone, top mafia judge in Palermo, had just been killed by a blast on the highway near Capaci, in Sicily, together with his wife and three men of his armed escort. I still have goose bumps remembering those moments. Such news did shake me. I was safe and faraway from those places but distances shrunk and the whole country got more unite and closer. It was a bloody time in Sicily, Mafia was murdering hundreds of people one after another, news streamed counting the dead, day after day. Falcone was a reference point for those who believed in the war against organised crime. The explosion had been plotted by Mafia bosses to kill the man and his investigations; almost 600 kilograms of explosive left a huge crater in the road, and in people’s hope.
I have not experienced all this personally, I was not living within the texture of the violence – and I find myself pondering how lucky I am.
But in this day of remembrance I would like to dedicate a thought to those who fear for their lives and the lives of their loved.
People in the UK experienced a similar wave of extended violence at the time of IRA and although I do not want to relate these events and the ideologies behind them, I do want to acknowledge the suffering of those who ended up in the crossfire, potentially even unrelated to the issues.
Fear makes us less human, kills our joy, spoils our emotions.
In the words of judge Paolo Borsellino, Falcone’s close colleague who was killed two months after him:
“Who lives in fear dies every day, who does not live in fear, just dies once”
This is indeed true, but I also think that shared experiences of spread out fear, uncertainty and violence could bring people closer, and show them how similar they are one to another.