Humanitas. A word that we have forgotten, but whose memory we carry in the flesh and in our history. And now, in an era of coronavirus emergency, it emerges clearly and distinguishes us from what remains of the barbarian heritage, just as it was in Roman times. For the ancient Romans Humanitas was that ethical value for which we see a human being in the other person.
A value that comes from afar
If we think about what happened even in Europe before the last world war, or in the United States with slavery until 1865, it is absolutely not granted. Or what still happens today in those countries where exterminations and repressions take place. The Roman playwright Terence summed it up as follows: “Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto”, ” “I am human, and I think nothing human is alien to me“.
Europe often mock Italy and Italians for their way of doing things. And often many Italians let themselves be convinced that elsewhere there are better people, more civilized than us.
Our humanitas today
Today we can open our eyes and realize that Italians are those who embody this ancient virtue of humanitas more than any other western people. While countries that define themselves – and that we ourselves define – more developed meander Darwinian selections of the race that allow the weakest to die, our – much-maligned – healthcare is spending every drop of blood to save every human life put in danger from the virus. They treated us like plague victims while we helped China, then in difficulty.
And now China return the favor and all the others find themselves in our same conditions. We are experiencing this difficult moment of segregation and limitation of the most intimate freedoms by singing, smiling at life and our neighbor and filling us with (virtual) hugs. We Italians are those of humanitas. Italians are the ones who care about humanity. We must be proud of it. And we will rise from this global upheaval brigheter than before. Aware of the value of our humanitas.