When life comes looking for you, the editorial by Franco Michienzi

The pandemic crisis has uncovered our true nature. This is a historic period in time and must make us put our weaknesses aside, working towards the common good with our better sides

by Francesco Michienzi

I EXPECTED SOME REACTION TO MY MAY EDITORIAL, BUT I CERTAINLY DIDN’T IMAGINE I WOULD RECEIVE QUITE SO MUCH FEEDBACK. Most of it was positive, but others were very perplexing. I’ll quote a few of the responses, such as the one from the reader who wrote: “The editorial is great, but it’s like pouring a glass of water into the sea”. Maybe that’s true, but I believe it’s right to make every effort to reflect on our actions.

One of the letters I received cites a book by Ivano Dionigi, Quando la vita ti viene a trovare. Lucrezio, Seneca e noi [When life comes looking for you. Lucretius, Seneca and us]. This text questions whether it is better to live amidst the pains of existence or separate ourselves from them, choosing tranquillity? And also, is it possible to have a happy life? Few people had any doubts about this in Ancient Rome: stoicism was popular and a life was not considered worth living if you did not try your hand at politics or the art of war. In short, the ancient Roman philosopher was a wayfarer along the same roads we resignedly travel today in our crowded cities. Dionigi also asks: “Should we remain alone on the shore to watch the storms of life or climb aboard without caring too much who our travel companions are? Follow the laws of the cosmos or the laws of the self? Choose politics or anti-politics? The negotium or the otium? Believe or understand when faced with God and death? Follow the lessons of our fathers or the revolution of our children?”.

Personally, I choose not to remain ashore, because my glass is too small compared to the boundless sea. In the same letter I also read that “one can note a strong similarity between what you write and what has always been said about humankind and, frankly, I’m resigned to this. I mean to say that I no longer make such an effort to discuss the topics you cover in the editorial, but simply limit myself to setting a good example for my children, my employees and colleagues, hoping that I don’t make too many mistakes so that my example is always constructive and in the right direction. I therefore admire those like you who put themselves forward with a verve that I would describe as youthful (in the sense that it’s something I have lost). Well done! Keep going as long as you can. Unfortunately, even in the world of yachting, the ethics are often questionable and this is perhaps why organisations feed on one another and survive despite the crises, and maybe even because of them”.

I could give numerous examples of bad habits, such as those who seek to profit from the situation by buying boats for ridiculous prices, primarily in the belief that they’re investing in the sector… I am limiting myself to positive thinking. Another businessman writes: “I can’t help but be fascinated by your editorial… for me, every word marks a milestone in my daily life… and my feelings as a man during this strange start to the new millennium. I share the disappointment and frustration that I read in your words, even if well concealed between the lines and rendered invisible to the less sensitive. My compliments! Your words have really struck me… I’ve been thinking the same things and I’ve really appreciated both your usual courage and the depth of the spirit that guided you…”.

The current situation has driven many nautical entrepreneurs to reflect upon their actions. An awareness has emerged that looking after one’s workforce is fundamental in order to remain competitive on an international level. Another reader commented: “I agree with what you wrote in the latest editorial. It’s a battle that I’ve been doing my own small bit to fight for some time now. Unfortunately, we’re surrounded by lies and hypocrisy, at a time when we have a greater need than ever for a society that stands up for morals and ethics. However, it seems that our country is forgetting this. I’m also certain that if we continue discussing all this with conviction (as you have been doing for some time now) we will manage to change. We really need to do so!!!”

Finally, I want to quote some words from another letter: “Memory is important and essential and we must always keep it in our mental archive. Many people think this way, but someone has written it down so that it can be shared and not remain isolated with his thought”. Over recent years, the Italian nautical industry has stood out for the widespread and tireless commitment of all these businesspeople, who we will always represent in the belief that good behavior leads to excellence.

(When life comes looking for you – Barchemagazine.com – July 2020)