Boundaries, Love, World War II
World War II: a popular theme like this might save us from the ignorance of prejudice, growing populism and unstable democracies.

Democracy isn’t like running water, to open the tap is not enough. You have to fight for democracy. You have to defend democracy.

Slavenka Drakulić / Martin Pollack via Keller Publishing House

To those who complain about immigration or immigrants stealing our jobs.

I suggest reading books on World War Two if they don’t feel like discerning fake news from real data. Or if they don’t want to remember about conflicts generating those very floods of people forced to leave their homes.

Recently I have happened to read two novels with World War II as their main theme: The Tin Drum by Günter Grass and Una storia ungherese (A Hungarian Story, my translation) by Margherita Loy. Both feature an unusual point of view, at least for me. The first is a refugee within his own land, fleeing from the East to the West of Germany, the other a Hungarian family and as of today I don’t remember reading anything about World War Two in Hungary.

Thus, I have noticed a few common threads, for instance the emphasis placed upon the violence and terror caused by the Soviet army, in theory a liberating army. More in general, though, what stuck with me was the the depiction of life in pre-war peace, peace threatened by war, actual war, liberation feeling very little like one, and finally the postwar.

To go back to a state of quiet looks nothing like before anyway. life is not the same and Peace itself tastes weird. But we, in 2018, are lucky enough to be able to recognise just pure, utter peace.

Very little time and mental effort would be enough, for instance, with a novel like Loy’s (a little less than 200 pages that fly by), to establish a quick comparison between the suffering of the characters and those who seek shelter in our lands.

You know, it would be also the perfect way to question those politicians who too easily mine our fundamental rights. Sometimes they do it overtly like in the case of Italy, some others by ‘workarounds’ like by feeding us rubbish TV shows. They might even choose to amplify petty news so as to turn consciences away from really important matters.

I don’t mean to picture a catastrophic future but rather bring the focus onto the fact that these gentlemen are shaking the foundation of democracy. However, in the meantime we miss the obvious fact that we live in peace, unlike our grandparents or peers a few kilometres away.

What does this mean? It means that we can count on the fact we are going to bed fearing no sirens, home raids or bombing.

And on this subject, I just came across a picture posted by Keller Publishing House with the quote posted above. One right after the other, the two novels and the words on Instagram sparked a light in me, not so much a revolutionary thought as an idea, a bridge between populism/prejudice and redemption.

So, wouldn’t it suffice to open books on such a popular theme – please allow me that adjective – such as World War II?

For many of us it represents a school book phrase while for the elderly, still a taboo. In that grey area between disposable phrases and ever rarer testimony, there could lie a key to unlock many burning questions of our time.