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From Lugano, the hope of the Righteous

by Gabriele Nissim

The Garden of the Righteous of Lugano

The Garden of the Righteous of Lugano

Following we publish the remarks delivered by Gabriele Nissim, Gariwo President, to mark the inauguration of the Garden of the Righteous of Lugano, on 26 April 2018.

First of all, I wish to thank Lugano’s Mayor Marco Borradori, the great soul and President of the Spitzer Foundation Moreno Bernasconi, and Viviana Kasam, the tireless initiator of Remembrance Days in Italy, for deciding to inaugurate in Lugano the first Garden of the Righteous of the Helvetic Confederation. This Garden is being created in cooperation with Gariwo, the gardens of the Righteous, the international association that I run and that, for the first time, has universalized the concept of Righteous, which stems from the Holocaust, extending it to all cases of genocide and totalitarianism, by building a network of nearly hundred Gardens in Italy and the world.

This ceremony is not only a signal for the further development of cultural relations between our two countries on the key subjects of human rights, but also represents an innovative message for the whole international community in the complicated times we are living in.

The Righteous people of yesterday and today teach us a fundamental concept of European civilization and liberal culture: the responsibility of the individual and the human person in history.
The Righteous person, in the face of injustice, when confronted with the signs of evil, does not remain dominated and passive, does not delegate to others the rescue of the humanity, but decides to act personally for the common Good in his or her own sphere of control.

His conscience and action represent at every time of history the greatest hope for the future.

Today the international climate, for the first time since the end of Nazism and communist totalitarianism, appears as uncertain and perilous. Nationalisms, racisms, the arms race, conflicts, together with indifference such as about Syria or Yemen, are rearing their ugly head again.

We could find ourselves, as written in the Thirties by Milena Jesenka in Prague, the woman loved by Kafka, with evil sitting at our table, even nearly without realizing it.

The Righteous people show us instead how the course of events can head in a good direction when everybody takes up a small responsibility in his or her own span of control. Nothing is ever pre-determined and every time can be “straightened” thanks to the free deeds of the individuals, as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet.

I explain this many times to the pupils of the Italian schools when I tell the tale of the Righteous. Doing good to people represents the loftiest exercise of freedom and at the same time, it makes us feel better and happier. The Good is catchy because it belongs to the human soul.

I wish Switzerland will soon be able to establish a Day of the Righteous, as it was done, upon Gariwo proposal, first by the European Parliament and now by the Italian one.

Switzerland, which built itself by creating a community of different cultures and languages, can be a great example to bring about the message of the Righteous people.

I am persuaded that, as happened in many Italian and European cities, the soul of the Garden will be the youths who will find their heroes here. Youths are the keepers of the future: this is why it is to them that we pass on the baton of the Righteous.

Gabriele Nissim, Gariwo Chairman

Analysis by Gabriele Nissim, Gariwo Chairman

27 April 2018

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