I just finished the TV show Sintonia, a Brazilian Netflix Serie talking about the stories of a bunch of kids from Vila Áurea, a favela of one of the biggest cities of the country. Incredibly talented people, most of them bounded by their very hard life conditions, where violence, criminality, poverty make their living extremely challenging.
Two days ago, I was at the Italian embassy renewing the passport, out of pages, and by simply sitting there for less than an hour I grasped few stories of people like me trying to sort out some documents.
“Like me” is what is not right here. These words are awkwardly resounding in my head. I was in and out in 50 minutes with my passport there. Appointment taken, smooth procedure, fast processing … just because I am an Italian citizen well taken care of by my compatriots.
I did not choose to born in the country hosting the 5th best passport in the world in terms of ”easiness to travel”, yet I don’t think about how this very simple, not chosen, basic asset of mine makes my life so much easier.
In the restaurant I opened not even a year ago we hired a two Brazilians, two Capeverdian, and of course we had them immediately sign a regular contract, and three of them will get their resident permit sorted thanks to this job.
Two of them are under 30 years old, they have a baby of 2 and 3 years respectively back in their home countries, and unlikely to be able to see them for few more months, for administrative and economical reason, but they came to Lisbon because they are fighting for a better life, and also very often doing the jobs that not many “locals” are willing to do and certainly without the same commitment, energy and drive.
You cannot be untouched when you encounter a life of suffering, yet you can’t save everyone.
Where is the fine line? Have no idea.
But I do know one thing: the opportunities to make even the smallest difference are endless in this world, and if you believe that make any day of any life an inch better is worth fighting for, then you have no excuses.
Please expect betrayal, indifference, injustice, unfairness, and anger for no reason as a reaction to some of your actions, and every time something like this happen think you are not doing this to get karma points or to ramp up one more stairs to paradise, nor for getting likes on Instagram or TikTok followers.
Sometimes the people you think you are helping are helpless themselves, and unaware, and completely indifferent and ungrateful, but – again – if you help because you expect something in return then don’t, do yourself a service.
It does’t make me feel any better to realise how unaware I am sometimes of the very simple, everyday life conditions I enjoy just because I was born in Italy and not in a small village in Angola.
Some of us never truly experiment tough life contexts until something really hard hit their ways (which is of course something not to wish to anyone). It is, though, an eye opener when you either live it or witness it from so close that you can’t get your sight away from it. The way you react will tell a lot about yourself, and can be one of the most powerful lessons life will ever teach you.