The letterhead of an itinerary planning firm I used to own, asked, “Have you ever known anyone who went to Italy and never wanted to return?”
Italy enchants. It fascinates with its reverence for ancient ruins and it tantalizes with its innate elegance, visible on the streets of Milan, Florence and Rome as well as on its volcanic islands and in its remote villages.
If disclaimers are necessary, I am proud of my 100% Italian roots. My father was an immigrant from a small town outside Pompeii, and his parents as well as those of my mother were born on the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples. I make no apologies: I love Italy.
In that affection, I am joined by millions around the globe. Italy has been Europe’s top tourism destination and it remains a country which citizens of the world adore.
Now, as it struggles to rise once again from yet one more assault by nature in the earthquake-ravaged Abruzzi, sympathetic admirers from around the globe rush to send whatever relief they can. Here at home, the millions of Americans with roots in the boot, interrupt their Easter plans to raise monies, gather supplies, contact friends and family who may have been displaced and establish bridges of hope between the leveled towns of Italy’s Southwest and the struggling cities of the USA, those latter leveled economically by the current and deep recession.
Even Italians outside the stricken region are raging and mourning the unnecessary death toll because government funds provided years ago—after similar quakes—were apparently skimmed by politicians instead of being used to build the earthquake-proof buildings that might have saved so many lives. Americans share that disillusionment as they look around at the plundered financial landscape around them as well.
We can only do what brothers and sisters do in tough times like these. So we share what bread and water we have between us and send what pennies we can spare along with clothing, blankets and medical supplies. Those of us who pray should do so.
All of us, meanwhile, should think positive thoughts and work for justice, for in Italy’s current moment of tragedy we join her in the allegory of the greed of the powerful bringing down ruin on the serenity of the struggling.
In that sense, we are all family.
Aid to earthquake victims in Italy can be given by calling 1-800-REDCROSS