The role of expectation in life

The role of expectation in life

September 2013, Milan

On my last visit here, there was an air of hope and excitement around – in December last year, everyone was talking about the upcoming parliamentary elections; huge political ads were adorning the “grandi palazzi” as much as Christmas garlands were. Piazza Loreto – an emblem of both religious and historic significance, as the venue most famous for the public display of Mussolini’s corpse takes its name from an old sanctuary of Our Lady of Loreto in Ancona province – looked like the birthday cake for a king. It was almost as if it was hoping to make history again, as everyone believed the democratic left finally had a real chance of defeating Berlusconi’s right.

But February came and no political group had won an outright majority, resulting in a hung parliament. After a long period of negotiations everyone was relieved when a coalition was finally formed between Centre-left, Centre, and Centre-right. I was amazed at the sense of expectation everyone seemed to have from such a hodgepodge coalition, but I hoped for them and for myself, that at least some of the newly acquired trust would not be disappointed. By September it became clear that even that shred of hope had been overly idealistic. The sparkle had gone from people’s eyes and disappointed gestures had taken the place of high beat dialogue when it came to politics.

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Do you?

Do you?

February 2013, London

Do you ever wake up at night thinking of the families of those workers who die at their workplace because one of the world’s largest multinationals couldn’t make the decision on time to replace a faulty piece of equipment? Of children getting sick from working too much in the fumes of a factory? Of millions of pensioners affected when an energy giant goes bust because of its own fraudulent accounting schemes and takes with it their life savings? Of holiday makers who lose their lives in train crashes and ship wrecks caused by negligence and systematic failure on the part of large organisations to do what is right, instead of what is profitable?

If so – what do you do, how do you reconcile with those troubling thoughts? Do you try to relegate them to some corner of your mind, possibly close to natural disaster or fatal diseases? Do you see them as another type of catastrophe, like a tsunami, or an earthquake? Or like a plague? Perhaps like leukaemia?

And does it work? Or are you still awake? Does it still bother you, in a different way? Do such events still make you sick inside, more so than natural disasters do? Can you not blame them on the gods, or fate? Do they seem radically different somehow, and for that reason utterly unbearable?

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