“Beauty will save the world.” These were the words of the Honorary President of the Agedi Group who, on Friday 22 January, spoke at the Re Mind Think Tank on the subject of “Milan: Covid-19 emergency and the city to come”.
His speech, in the broader context of a multidisciplinary conversation with experts from various fields, underlined the importance of a common effort to rediscover the beauty of a country parent to all of the world’s beauty.
Massimo Cimatti: ‘Beauty will save the world’.
“I had begun with the idea of saying some things today, but after these contributions, so dense with much more, I have completely changed my mind. The truth is that I feel ‘small’ compared to the subject we are talking about. We are talking about a pandemic, therefore a worldwide problem, then a European problem, and finally an Italian problem. We need to talk about how to address what is happening, which is unique in history, at least the few hundred years. In order to do so, we will have to address much broader issues – which it is not up to me or any of us to deal with either – and which in any case are too complicated. In this context, I was reminded of Dostoevsky’s beautiful phrase in The Idiot: Beauty will save the world.
“When we talk about beauty – even if it’s too easy to do so in the way I’ve been doing in these past few months – I like to think of a different kind of beauty, the beauty of virtues, of hope, of respect, of working together. The beauty of rowing all together to get away from a crisis that, if we do not overcome narcissistic egocentricity and selfishness, won’t have any way out”.
“We are not presenting a positive image of ourselves or the world in relation to politics. But it is also true that it is silly to blame the politician on duty or the situation when we ourselves are not trying to make our way of being beautiful itself. So maybe it is true that beauty will save the world after all.”
The need for positive messages to overcome distress
“Italy should seek to be united, maybe through more moments like the ones organized by Re Mind. Moments made by many capable and willing people, who want to debate in order to find a unity of intentions complete with ethics, with tenacity, determination – I would also put spirituality.
“I liked Father Sala’s speech, although I do not agree that the message “everything will be fine” is an uncorrect one. Perhaps a positive message is exactly what we need right now, and moreover it is part of the theological virtues (hope, charity, faith). At a time like this, having positive messages does a lot of good. It helps us to move away from issues such as anxiety. Starting to have these positive messages among us to get out of the crisis would not be bad – at all.”
The beauty of Milan and unity of purpose for a common goal
Massimo Cimatti’s talk at the Think Tank did not fail to include a moment devoted specifically to the city of Milan.
“As far as my job is concerned, I can only say that it is beauty that we must pursue. Luckily we are in the country that is the parent of all of world’s beauty, in every regard. We have to invest so much resources and so many talents in beauty. Paolo Longhini was talking about Milan’s beauty in recent years: it’s true, but the city reached that point only because the city has been able to enhance many themes – design, fashion – and has become a world’s capital. It was able to do so by showcasing its beauty. It would be better if we could also enhance the Sforza Castle or Manzoni’s house as well – but that’s a plus.
“I wonder why even in the Recovery Fund there is little space for investments in tourism. If we look at Milan, the city has gained a lot in recent years. In 2017 it even surpassed Rome in terms of the number of tourists and this is because it has been able to showcase itself. If we decided to showcase the beauty of this country, including Milan, maybe it would help us. But to do this we need the beauty of a unity of purpose.”
Determination and perseverance for a stronger Italy
“For the relaunch of Italy, we need infrastructures that connect the various regions throughout the country. It is an extraordinarily difficult moment, but like all difficult historical moments it can be an extraordinarily beautiful one, if we are able to share it with the positivity of working together. I am at an age where I have fortunately never seen a war. I wonder how our parents, our grandparents, managed to get together after a war: with songs, unity, determination and tenacity they rebuilt the country.
This time around we have to do it ourselves. We certainly can’t expect anything from the miserable theatre we have witnessed over the last few weeks and from the government. Our job is to give very clear signals, we have to say that we are tired. We are all tired, we could not have it any other way. We should really try – even with events like the ones organized by Re Mind, widening the discussion to other people – to mark a presence and a difference with respect to a system that does not represent us and does not suit us. The bar next door is bankrupt, it has closed down, we can’t do anything for it anymore. But we cannot wait, we have to act and do it ourselves. Like Milan, which wants to invest in neighbourhood shops. That too is beauty – the artisan, the goldsmith, the shop – they are the beauty of our culture and tradition.”