JohnnySnelgrove's Travel Journals

JohnnySnelgrove

 
What is your funniest travel experience?

Playing music with a group of Ghanian drummers. My strings kept breaking, and we would meticulously tie them back together in order to keep jamming.

  • 27 years old
  • From Washington, United States
  • Currently in Washington, United States

Firenze, Italy 2012

Living the life of an Italian journalist.

Avoiding a Fascist Relapse

Italy Palermo, Italy  |  Nov 18, 2012
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 When our lives take a dip and we’re forced to face a crisis, we scrounge for answers, a culprit, and a savior. The same pattern emerges after a breakup, after losing one’s faith, and after the death of a loved one. 

Uncomfortable restless night, 5:00am bus to Pisa, sleep, 7:00am plane to Trapini—I buckle my guitar in next to me—sleep, two hour bus to Palermo, sleep, try to stay awake but can’t, wake up to protest chants outside Palermo station, follow a crowd down the street, slip through the riot police roadblock, check into my dinky cheap hotel, sleep, sleep, sleep…  

I played catch-up and got over my sickness the first day in Sicily. Better to lose a day than to half-ass several. The first few hours set the tone for the rest of my stay in Palermo, though. Demonstrators took to the streets daily, and though they remained harmless and nonviolent, their numbers continued to multiply. The largest protest took place the day I planned to leave, and forced the train station to lock its gates.

From what I could gather, students constituted most of the crowd, but members of an organization called GESIP intermixed into the throng as well. GESIP seems to comprise mostly the unemployed and social-reformists. Their slogans lament the growing number of jobless families, and the most adamant members pitched tents outside the governor’s office.

As for the students, I couldn’t figure out the reason for their protesting. Honestly, I don’t think they even knew the reason for their protesting. When I asked a few, they provided vague answers such as: the government, debt, and money. I don’t doubt a language barrier hampered their replies, but even after I told them I understood Italian, they failed to provide any elaborate reasoning. I’m sure some students understood what was going on and had legitimate reasoning, but I think the bulk of them ran off youth, emotion, and camaraderie.

When our lives take a dip and we’re forced to face a crisis, we scrounge for answers, a culprit, and a savior. The same pattern emerges after a breakup, after losing one’s faith, and after the death of a loved one. In these dark times, people turn to whatever source of comfort steps forward first, whether it be Christianity, Scientology, Fascism, Buddhism, Nazism, or some other idealistic self-devised ism.  

We look for a scapegoat while remaining cavalier to the fact the the problem’s probably multifaceted. We blame the government, the president, or people unfamiliar to us, as the sole source of the problem. But problems are rarely that simple. Greece’s bankruptcy, for example, was a combination of crooked politicians, political loopholes, a socialized system without enough revenue to support it, and, quite simply, people skipping out on paying their taxes. When people started feeling the repercussions, they revolted. Nobody sat back and reflected on how many times they’d bribed the tax collector.

People are entering post-crisis panic the world over. We get stupid when we’re in this state (you’ve probably met one or two people with an embarrassing post-breakup tattoo, right? Case in point). Now nearly the entire world (except China) is beginning to wrestle with this cognitive dissonance, and people are turning towards scary sources of consolation. Please, people, keep your wits about you. The world is tender, and if we aren’t careful, we’ll be dealing with another round of crazy idealists akin to the Nazis and Fascists. The safety’s off and a finger’s on the trigger, so tread lightly.  

To avoid a complete idealogical relapse, I’ve put together a few simple rules I believe will help derail any unsettling and dangerous political movements:

1. If it seems too good to be true, it is. Remember that Hitler offered every German an affordable Volkswagen. Cars are expensive. It just doesn’t pan out.

2. Avoid preachers of volkisch ideas. Your race is irrelevant, and maybe your country is the “best damn country on earth”, but please don’t act on that belief. 

3. Follow the tenants of equality, logic, and self-reflection. People are people wherever you go. Question everything. Try to be more like Sherlock Holmes.

4. Try not to shoot anybody. It usually just ends up making things worse (unless they shot first, then by all means shoot back. Buddhist Monks are cool and all, but they’ll never get Tibet back by setting themselves on fire).

5. Above all else, think for yourself. If you find yourself agreeing with more than 90% of an ideology, you’re doing it wrong.

After spending three days amongst protesters in Palermo, I’m a bit more doubtful about the future of the developed world. Countries that are well off now may be facing difficult times in the near future. We’re feeling the initial effects, and people are rising up in opposition because it’s uncomfortable. There’s no easy solution, and I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I can comfortably say that people get crazy when they get scared. 

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