The remnants of big, old structures are very visible in the streets of Rome. Everywhere the history of the Roman Empire is still present. Amidst the old stones and exuberant monuments there are many tourists walking. Recognizable by the various flags of the guides which stick out head and shoulder. The walking humans seem to be in trance. Everyone is devout looking at his mobile phone like if it was a holy book. It is really a striking sight: Crowded streets, nearly no interaction between people and still everyone is doing the same thing: Holding like modern Moses the tablets in their hands.
Travelling by bus we got a first impression of the ‘strange’ city. What my wife and I did see was discomforting. We saw a lot of graffiti, overloaded garbage containters and homeless people sleeping at benches. Also many (illegal?) African immigrants were selling bottles with water or umbrellas to protect us against the scorching sun.
There was so much rubbish on the broken streets. And also the Romans were rude. When we were dining in the restaurants the waitresses were stressed and reacting curtly. And also the man behind the cash desk in the supermarket was not paying any attention. Another woman in a souvenir shop at the airport was taking 20 cents more than the price of the chocolate surprise eggs.
You can say ‘It is just 20 cents, so what is your problem?’, and you are right, but I felt for one moment robbed …
And how we sought to find really good restaurants, but we could not find any of these. And where we finally dined it was a disappointing experience. We had to pay high prices for the microwave warmed pasta. The salmon sauce did not contain parts of salmon and there were no vegetables at all. And to top it all: The appetizer – bread without butter – did arrive together with our meals. We expected a sophisticated cooking culture, but we felt embarrassed about what was happening before our eyes.
The Romans are struggling to survive
Looking at the faces of the Romans in the busses we sensed a lot of stress, sadness, frustration and pain. Very much pain. All this people had the appearance whether they were struggling to survive. It was for us a huge contrast: The lost glorly of an Empire, the hoarded treasures in the museums and the people themselves which are living amidst this wealth in great poverty and misery.
And in this ‘rotten’ city and amidst the broken people there is a super rich compound. Surrounded by big walls and decorated guards: Vatican City. At the throne there is sitting an old man in spotless white cloathes, accompanied by clergy who are walking in expensive clothes. And those well paid men are asking old women, widows and other Romans to pay their contributions to the Church of leading billionaires.
Those men who preach purity and generosity are themselves living in an environment filled with dark secrets and stinginess. Are those men aware of the daily struggles of their neighbours? Are they caring? Do they want to be concerned about what their fellow people are experiencing? Or are the walls of Vatican City too high? Too old? Is the life inside the ‘palace’ too much inviting to forget that there is a disturbing, screaming and shocking poverty outside?
Rome does not need a pope for moral issues. Not an unmarried male who is lacking empathy and who is condemning the use of condoms. The city needs desperately a powerful pope who is transferring money and masterminds to the slums. Cardinals who won’t anymore be leading church services, but who will take the lead to clean the city and to combat the poverty, the dirt, the corruption and the rooted criminality.
Why should the mafia be dominating the waste processing companies? Why is the Church not clothing and feeding the homeless people? Why are they not providing work for the African immigrants and why don’t they repair the asphalt of the streets? Someone or some organisation has to do it.
When the city authorities don’t have the money or the will to provide the welfare for the people there should be an opportunity for the Vatican to start the sharing of the hoarded wealth and to sell it and to give the output of it freely away.
Let clergy and homeless people eat together
When I am visualizing the possibilities for this city I do see big signs and billboards in Rome: ‘Work in progress’. And on it also smaller subtexts: ‘Thanks to our pope’. And of course there will be than a big photo of a smiling and approving father figure 🙂
I see long tables where clergy and homeless people are eating together, sharing their bread.
I see top quality restaurants starting their businesses in Rome and giving away the leftovers to this foodplaces.
I fantasize about big Dutch companies which will organize the process to collect the garbage from the streets, to empty the overloaded vessels and to remove the refuse to the incinerators.
I see big shovels and excavators restructuring the city. I see that broom wagons are sweeping the streets. That graffiti will be forcefully removed and that the roads will be asphalted. And that there will be created underground bins, like in my birth city of Rotterdam.
Daily living can be at such ‘higher’ levels of quality and comfort. But it requires a radical redistributing of the abundant (and antique) resources of the forefathers and -mothers 🙂
Let the money flow in big rivers to real alife humans of flesh and blood instead to the restoration of dead stones which are laying useless already for more than 2000 years !