I haven’t had the pleasure of stitching in weeks, and it was with great benefit to my nerves, and bitterness in my heart, that I spent most of my hermitting Sunday working on this little piece – which is now officially done.
Here they are, just a few thoughts.
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I’ve been deeply shaken by recent events. Seeing the architectural jewel that is Saint-Denis with that surreal display of special forces going in and out of it, the attack at the hotel in Mali, Bruxelles raided and in total lock down, Crimea in the dark after the power lines to the whole peninsula have been blown up, the ever growing number of people murdered by terrorists all over the world. Men, women and children, knifed outside religious buildings or in the streets; the innocent lives that are now being taken in Syria as if the reasonable (and truly beneficial) response to the murder of innocents was the murder of more innocents from another country – it’s such a devastating scenario, so far from what I feel, I know deep in my heart, this season (and every season for all it matters) is about.
At first glance this piece does what most of us (rightfully) did this year on social media and such – show compassion and sadness for the deaths of innocent people taken by terrorists on French soil.
But why haven’t I written a post or stitched something for many other seriously heartbreaking attacks? Take the countries in Africa or the Middle East, are those deaths less painful or tragic? And if we gave a honest look at what’s going on with the world, wouldn’t we see that what Europe is getting is nothing but a drop of what people are witnessing in those countries?
I’m not a fan of statistics, but this index shows fairly honestly who’s really getting the short end of the stick here. The death toll (how horridly taletelling that such an expression even exists in our languages) of people killed by terrorism in Europe this year is around 400, whereas in the Middle East it’s around 23000. This alone should explain why desperate families are running away from those countries as fast as they can, and why so called civilised countries (in primis the one I live in) should do better than treat them like scum – after all it’s so called civilised governments and companies that sold them the very bullets they’re trying to dodge.
So why did I choose a French inspired piece to represent all this great mixture of feelings and sadness and loss and craving for peace for everyone? Because it’s all intertwined in the French Age of Enlightenment, a time that is very dear to my heart. That’s when people (and soon enough politics) started to deal with the concept that “every human being has natural rights, and one of them is the right to think and believe in whatever they please as long as it doesn’t hurt other beings and their right to do the same”.
The French Lumières were the first to put human rights such as freedom, respect, equality and happiness at the center of discussion in the attempt to improve the quality of life led by people under Ancièn regimes. The fact that 300 years later we’re still trying to catch up to those ideals, rather than having them as pillars of our societies, is another telltale sign of how the struggle to see them respected is a never ending one. But (thank goodness!) these are the ideals our Constitutions were built on – and what powerful and meaningful words they are.
Of course these concepts and the broadness of human rights itself were much different in the XVIII century, and the process of establishing our modern societies lead to very fierce and gory events, endless detours and backfires, in a tango that never spared the lives of innocents. Over the centuries these very ideals have been torn and twisted and exploited to the last campaign imaginable in the quest for control, for power of a few over many. Does it mean this is something not worth fighting for? I don’t think so.
I treasure the esprit of unity and respect we share all over the world, and this piece embodies all this on much more than one level. Look at how it’s made: these are top quality Italian linen fibres, woven into textile by a German company, hand dyed by an Hungarian artist, stitched following a design charted by Americans which were inspired by the beautiful capital of France. And it all comes full circle when my hands turn this into something here in Italy.
So when I say that I have Paris in the hart I not only have the lives of many journalists, satirists, and citizens in mind; there are tears for people going to a concert, or out for dinner, on holiday, outside a church, or a shop, in the streets of Paris and Raqqa, in Mali and in Ukraine, in Syria and in Crimea, .. – what I have in my heart is all this together, in the hope that we can get out of this mess more united than divided. What I have in my heart are the pillars of human rights: liberté, egalité, fraternité.
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lots of love, and if you do happy stitching