Good well done

Publish date 09-10-2020

by Matteo Spicuglia

There is a basic rule that always applies, both small and large, to the human heart and to society as a whole. An essential rule: you don't live on theories. Much less words. Whether we like it or not, the facts matter. Indeed, what matters is the method, the direction, the path you decide to take. The rest comes. The Arsenal of Peace understood this from the start. It was a ruin, the free work of thousands of young people and adults has transformed it. Yet, the value of this adventure was much greater, rooted in the intimate choice not to follow rigid patterns, but to have the plans changed by the unexpected that presented themselves at the door.

At first, none of the young people from Sermig would have thought of welcoming former terrorists, people injured by drugs or other addictions, women with an atrocious past linked to the streets. It was the bell that brought them to the former factory of death which has become a house of peace and hope. Always different tools: the letter from a former terrorist asking to talk to get out of his black hole; the phone call from a supervisory judge asking to host a young prisoner with AIDS; the pointing finger of a boy who had nowhere to spend the night; the story of so many untreated foreigners who did not know where to turn. The examples could go on. On the other hand, the emotion of normal people who every time renewed their yes, their availability. In all this there was no form of sentimentality. It was immediately clear that mere goodwill would not be enough to give effective answers. Complex situations required equally articulated responses, study, competence, no improvisation.

Moreover, the first young people of Sermig did not have specific knowledge. Getting involved made sense, but without denying one's limits. It was in those years that an expression was born that is very dear to those who know the life of the Arsenals: it is possible to get out of any situation of degradation, as long as you accept "a method, a family, a severity".

Method and competence are the only keys to face reality and problems bigger than you. Sermig has always tried to do this. For example, by rejecting any form of idealization of the poor. Ernesto Olivero wrote in those years: «In our sick imagination, the poor are a toy to be looked after from time to time; in some emotional moment we say we want to spend our life for him, because we think it is not right to be poor.

But when you know him in reality, you realize that sometimes the poor person disturbs you, is inconstant, stinks, is rude ...; you realize that, like you too, he expects to eat every day, to sleep at night in a bed, to dress like you, to send his children to school ... He wants to be just a person like you, like us .. And this poor man is different from that of our dreams!». In other words, serving the poor meant learning to really put yourself in the shoes of others, a step that was not taken for granted at all.

This is why when the first welcome for foreigners, including many Muslims, was opened, Sermig traveled to their countries of origin to better understand culture and points of view. Thus, when the Arsenals in Jordan and Brazil were opened, the understanding of the sensitivity of those countries, of the local society, of the very perception of the services that were offered became fundamental. It is the method that came into play in the face of specific hardships, when ex-prisoners, young people with anorexia problems or psychological injuries were welcomed. The involvement of experts, of wise people capable of indicating a solution, was the constant. Because good must be done well! Woe to improvise it! The opposite result would be obtained.

Ernesto Olivero writes: «I get hold of trying to do good in everything, even the most insignificant. The greatest dreamers are those who pragmatically do every little thing well and, little by little, allow big ideas to enter their lives. If we do not transform reality into a dream, we become people who revolve around our self, our own comforts, and slowly become dry, ugly, selfish. If we have clean eyes, we realize that the most beautiful people are those who do good well, who give themselves continuously to others, who gradually begin to think little or nothing of themselves, receiving in return the hundredfold ».

These are not nice words. Method and competence pass only through concreteness. This too is a rule that can apply to everyone.

Matteo Spicuglia
NP August - September 2020

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