When the earth trembles you feel like the sailor who faces the stormy sea aboard a fragile adrift boat, when the earth trembles you lose all certainty and you understand how important the gift of life is, when the earth trembles you review the entire course of your existence, and you would like to hold and protect all those you love in a single embrace. The earthquake is a call to all consciences, it is a warning not to indulge in certainties, it is the voice of Chaos that reminds us of the fragility of the human condition. After the recent seismic event in Turkey and Syria I felt comfort and happiness in seeing still alive babies pulled out of the rubble and even a woman with the little creature who had just given birth. A sense of universal brotherhood permeates these moments, cancelling any difference.
I was born in the heart of a land ravaged by earthquakes, lapped by tidal waves, surrounded by volcanoes now silent but ready to explode, now good-naturedly active but in permanent threat of sudden and dramatic changes of mood.
If in year 1908 the earthquake that razed Messina and Reggio to the ground hadn’t miraculously spared my maternal grandparents I wouldn’t be here writing these bitter lines. In July of a few years ago I was in Russia, in St. Petersburg, for a pleasure trip. They took us at midnight, with the sun still high on the horizon, for a boat tour of the port area overlooking the Gulf of Finland. Suddenly the guide pointed out to us an old cruiser moored at the quay. It was the “Aurora” launched in 1900, museum ship and pride of the Russian nation, both because it was the only naval vessel to escape the bloody battle of Tsushima in the war against the Japanese of 1904-5, and because from one of its cannons in 1917 the signal went out for the conquest of the Winter Palace, the first step of the Russian revolution. When I heard the name of the ship I was seized with emotion: that ship had also been the symbol of the help offered by a Russian fleet which was on a training cruise, close to the coasts of Sicily and Calabria, on the day of the tragic earthquake of 1908. Four ships, wasting no time in lengthy requests bureaucratic, they immediately reversed course to help the thousands of Sicilian and Calabrian victims.
The earthquake that had transformed those beloved shores into a cruel mother transformed sailors educated to fight in war into heroic “angels of solidarity”.
The terrifying earthquake that hit the Turkish and Syrian peoples is performing the same miracle. Ships and planes, coming from all the nations of the world, have launched a competition of international solidarity in favour of those martyred populations by breaking down the walls of mutual distrust. Our Grand Master did well to express his and our sense of fraternal participation to the Grand Master of the Liberal Grand Lodge of Turkey.
My personal recall of a similar event, which occurred over a century ago, leads me to hope that these events may give an adequate response to the invocation of a just and lasting peace for the wars that still afflict Europe, Asia and the African continent. The “peacemaker” is the one who manages to eliminate all negative feelings from his mind to transform them into energy that supports positive actions.
Doing good, as well as helping those who suffer, serves to strengthen the spirit and determination of those who take care of it.