By Daniela De Luca
My name is Daniela De Luca. I am a woman, and I am one of the fortunate.
I was fortunate to be taught that fight against the mafia is actually a fight for your own life. I am a woman who was shown the might of the blue biro. I am a woman who was shown a world in which she could choose which role to play, and even invent new roles of her own. Because there is a world in where women do not have to keep tight- lipped, or turn a blind eye as they wait for the storm to pass. Where they no longer have to watch the comings and goings on from the side-lines, or sew costumes that others will later go on to don on in their place. There is a world in which women can take centre stage.
I am a woman that another woman had the courage to teach the true meaning of the verbs “to dare”, “to believe” and “to fight”. She taught me that, when combined with the right adverbs and a dash of careful application, they can lead you to achieve much more in life than an A+ in written composition. Because this is what all teachers should seek to teach: how to live, and how to live honestly.
It was, fittingly enough, my high school literature teacher who pushed me to develop the project “Trasforma in film la tua Italia” (film your own Italy), which I try to bring in to schools and educational charities with nothing but the fullest and upmost sense of humility. I also use it in conjunction with my first book “Bianco 10 motivi per colorare la tua vita” (White, 10 reasons to make your life colorful). The project seeks to bring together (on film) the ideas whomever wants to change their own life and their own Italy, giving them a space to send in their contributions (be it in the form of texts, words, sounds, videos or hieroglyphics). For more information, feel free to consult our Facebook page.
The project has brought me in to contact with young people who have lots to say, and has allowed me to meet teachers from a range of different origins and backgrounds. It has strongly reinforced my belief that everyone has their role to play in this fight, however small. We can no longer think that the Mafia only seduces those in political or judicial/legal power. If the Mafia exists it is primarily because it is supported by people who, before becoming (corrupt) politicians were simply ordinary citizens. Ordinary people. And if we can’t get people to change, we cannot dare to hope that the Mafia will one day be defeated.
Today, when we talk about the anti-mafia movement, we imagine (thousands) of people who are fighting for a shared goal, despite all of their separate differences. But when we think about women, and (anti) Mafia women in particular, things can be a bit different. In 99% of cases when we refer to women we think about victims of Mafia crime. We talk about the collaborators, or the women and girls who have rebelled against their families. But we seldom think about the details, or the lives, of ordinary people behind the statistics. We don’t think about market trader who rebels against the gang leader, or the lawyer who refuses to defend the mafioso. We don’t think about the mother who teaches her son the difference between silence and loyalty, or the teacher who finds the right way to talk about the Mafia without inciting fear in the hearts of his pupils. Or the other teacher who takes her students on a field trip to visit the graves of Falcone and Borsellino, the famous anti-mafia resistance fighters.
So they are my main focus: those seemingly ordinary women. Those invisible, anti-mafia women. Women who, once they step outside the classroom, are just normal people with the same thoughts, responsibilities and problems as anybody else. But they are people who spend their days working to bring up our children, brothers, sisters and grandchildren with a basic sense of honesty. Because these days honesty is something that is mainly conquered rather than taught. We should always be mindful that today's mafiosi were just ordinary children not so long ago.
I have no big claims to make. I don’t have any connections to name-drop, or famous women to quote. But I have ideas: ideas that came to me in the aftermath of my meetings. Some of these meetings puzzled me, others made me want to run far away. Others stayed with me, and demanded expression over and over again. The people who crossed my path made me realize how hopelessly urgent it was to introduce “antimafia culture” as a school subject, from as early as primary school onwards. The time to rely on simple legality has passed. It is no longer sufficient if we wish to raise new generations not simply with a desire to fight against the mafia, but with the unshakeable need to fight for honesty. Our children must grow up knowing that the conspiracy of silence can never be a viable alternative.
Every morning, for every teacher who raises his or her hand in protest there will be one who parks his or her car (that is already scratched, dented and has a missing mirror), knowing full well that they might return to find it destroyed. For every teacher who hides behind a shield of totalizing fear, there are those who forge their own armor to defend the precious gift of honesty. For that gift will day ensure that a sharp pencil holds more value than a knife, and a book will be a greater source of excitement and adrenaline than an illegal hit. It will make a clean BA feel like the true path to personal and professional development. So projects are born: competitions and courses are set up with the aim to show our children that there is an alternative to the mafia. And that that alternative is called life.
Sadly one cannot assume that is will always be possible to avoid meeting people who parade silence around like some sort of career trophy. Certain individuals will always prefer to recite swathes of history- from Homo erectus to the Second World War- rather than "wasting " a precious lesson on the story that they are unconsciously helping to write. Our generation may be full of potential and new insights, but education systems still belongs in no uncertain terms to our parents’ generation.
We have a detailed understanding of our past, but we have some uncertain notions about our present (thanks in most part to the internet). How can we expect to take an active role in our own future if we are ill-informed about our present? When will the time come to introduce Anti-Mafia legislation as a mandatory university exam? Do we really think we can take down multiple echelons of international organised crime without educating a population who see the application of the law as a utopic ideal rather than a concrete reality? How can we expect this utopic vision not to cloud the teaching of subjects like procedural criminal law? A minimum of honesty is again (and will always be) needed.
So I’d like to thank all those teachers who, whilst their mothers, girlfriends, daughters, grandchildren, sisters and families are sat at home waiting for them, put aside any personal fear in order to fight for those who love, and for those who still do not know how to love . I’d like to thank all those “invisible” women who save the lives of so many on a daily basis just through the personal choices they make. I thank those who are not intimidated by the place in which they live: whether that’s in a big city like Milan or a small town like Ciro Marina. I’d like to thank those who do everything they can to encourage little boys and girls to live and not just survive - often recreating school at home in places a school does not "exist" anymore.
This piece has been written in the feminine voice. Grammatically, figuratively and personally. But to end I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to those women who manage to be fearlessly “masculine”, and those men who can unashamedly embrace the “feminine”. This article is dedicated to all feminists regardless of gender. It is dedicated to the teachers who prove that men can teach children to live and study with honesty, and that they can do so with true sensitivity. This article is for the lawyers, magistrates and doctors who prove that one does not need to have a male reproductive organ to carry to rebel courageously against the Mafia.
I thank those who are able to recognize themselves and their own visions in the definition of feminism as equal rights between men and women: men and women who can only prosper and benefit in the fight against the Mafia.
(Photo creator_ Walker Bragman, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/walker-bragman/je-suis-charlie_3_b_6437174.html)