I sailed to Utopia early in my life.
Since I was a teenager I had a quite cosmopolitan attitude and a confuse wish to fix the world. “Imagine” by John Lennon was my personal anthem.
Maybe it’s just normal, maybe most of the boys and girls have this same approach to life or just those of us who are labeled as “dreamers”.
Life, adults explain, is about other, more “realistic”, stuff: things like studying, getting a job, getting married, having babies.
Only now, thanks to the frequent conversations with my students, I realize how many precious energies and enthusiasms of this early stage of life are dissipated under a flood of social conventions.
But I was partly spared this awful destiny as I met, early in life, people like me who were taking dreams seriously. I joined the European Federalist Movement when I was seventeen and in a few years – after a shy childhood – I became a young woman able to speak in public and demonstrate for a united Europe. The movement counted several thousands of people in Italy and tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands across Europe.
One of the main lessons I learned was the definition of an activist (“militante”): “the man/woman who makes a personal issue of the distance between facts and values”.
I understood then that being a dreamer was not just inhabiting a beautiful world of ideas, but getting out there, seeing the problems, speaking out loud, claiming for a solution. Possibly, offering one.
And I started sharing views and organizing campaigns with like-minded people from other countries and interacting in several ways (not always friendly) with political institutions.
I’ll never forget when, twenty-six, I had my speech in the European Parliament in a special session about the requests from civil society for the Amsterdam Treaty (one of the many reforms of the European treaties).
But life was also other stuff, as meeting expectations by parents and teachers: I studied much, started earning a living, got married, had children. My job became teaching and researching on the European and International law.
Utopia was still there, on the line of the horizon. Apparently, my journey to get there was on standby. From time to time, I even felt guilty as if I was betraying my purpose, but I was wrong. In fact- without even realizing – I was just sharpening my saw.
And if I have a look back on my about twenty years of academic experience, I can tell you that utopia was the fil rouge connecting all I was writing or saying to my students. Even though – watching from outside – my life appeared more as a struggle to keep all together: job, family, children.
In 2009 I had a new turning point: with a group of colleagues I founded the think tank The Group of Lecce and, on the long wave of the global financial crisis, I started drafting communiques with them on how to improve the governance of financial institutions, in other words, how to fix the world, once again. The fact that since 2005 I had researched on the governance of the international financial institutions appeared to me as a sort of sign.
And I started attending the civil society policy forum convened twice a year by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on the occasion of their annual and spring meetings. I felt an activist again, in a different way.
What’s more important, I met many full-time activists from different backgrounds and paths of life: people who make a personal issue of the distance between facts and values; who act as watchdogs of international institutions; who speak on behalf of the poor; who bring suggestions and solutions to global problems; who choose to live a life of commitment instead of having better paid jobs (jobs for which they often would be more than qualified).
Once again, I measured the distance between committed people and institutions and I realized it wasn’t so big as many think.
And I saw how “normal” people may have a role in making the world a better place.
These were the two reasons for starting this blog (and for the book I am writing).
You know what? Immediately after I started posting about supranational democracy, like-minded people appeared to connect on Linkedin and Twitter… just as if the Universe were responding to some secret prayer.
We are not that few, you know???