IS MELANCHOLY AN ACTION TRIGGER?
Updated: Apr 9, 2020
Feeling proud of myself this week… Somehow, I have “fabricated” the time to escape the tyranny of action and engage on activities and conversations which I know will be very significant for me long term. Getting ready for a new level of influence. Among the “accomplishments” (these days less is more:), I would highlight attending a powerful presentation about the rise of neofascisms. Truth be told, the presentation accelerated my brain particles -that was the goal, as with all the noise these days I am afraid they might freeze- but it also gave me the creeps.
In his talk, Enzo Traverso, a prominent Scholar and Historian at Cornell University, tried to respond to a -very pertinent I thought- question: which are the commonalities and the differences between the situation we are currently living in Europe and in the world and that of the period between the First and the Second World Wars. His powerful talk made me even more conscious of the seriousness of the situation and reminded me of some important founding pieces for dialogue and debate of all kinds which I find lacking these days and which I truly miss. Systematic analysis would be one, discipline to use language and concepts carefully would be another, but even more importantly… rigor to stick to our guns and avoid giving uninformed opinions when we are out of our depth… even if we happen to be in possession of the microphone:). Thoroughness, humility and wisdom… rare qualities which I truly miss, and which tend to go together in my experience. It was such a relief to listen to an adult -I know that you know what I mean:)- talking about topics and events which are obviously deeply important for him with so much discipline, scrupulousness and equanimity.
He also discussed some of the promises and perils of what some call “the new international disorder”, which has to do with the fall of the basic narratives governing our lives during many years… and he introduced a question which has stayed with me: Can melancholy of better times -I would add better lives, better conversations, better leadership- … become a force powerful enough to trigger action? Can it help us leave this inertia that we seem to be immerse on and reignite our passion to transform ourselves and the system that we are a part of? Still intrigued and ruminating, I cannot really offer you an answer, but I DO feel this melancholy sometimes… and most of the time I try to leave it behind, as up until now, I had never thought of it as a moving forward kind of emotion. And yet, it might be a powerful and necessary trigger. Actually, for those of you who have doubts, his question reminded me of “Inside Out”, the beautifully made computer-animated movie which is a perfect introduction to the world of emotions and to how they affect interpersonal relationships… and which emphasizes the importance of sadness as a key force in our lives.
Another statement from Mr. Traverso’s talk has stayed with me: his declaration, when describing the geopolitical situation in Europe and in the world, that “I do not rule out any options”. He used those words in the context of analyzing the vision of some key actors of the political left, who describe recent history as a series of losses, with communism as the lost cause at large. His statement made me think of additional possibilities thought…
Like many of you, I am working harder than ever these days on preserving my innocence -there is not a most powerful shield in my opinion- and my optimism -hopefully of the intelligent kind:)- while strengthening my persistence and my sphere of influence. They truly seem as the most productive qualities to be part of the solution for those -so many- who do not want to look the other way or engage mostly on their own personal causes more or less skillfully disguised. To be true to that outlook… I would like to visit the opposite side of the spectrum and ask… what if we decided to fully realize our potential as human beings? What if some force -which might initially feed on melancholy- would come to reignite our passion, our wisdom, our strength? What if we realized that we actually have the resources and the capacity to live a global utopia of human dignity where suffering, hunger and violence would end?
I am counting on that force somehow… and I am hoping that it will not have to be preceded by the destruction of the planet… as some of my friend scientists predict. To that end… let me wish you a summer of warmth, light and joy… let us enjoy all its beauties and pleasures so that we can have purposeful falls and more and more of us join the ranks of that force…