Make a career of humanity M.L.King Jr
And I guess one of the great agonies of life is that we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable. We are commanded to do that. And so we, like David, find ourselves in so many instances having to face the fact that our dreams are not fulfilled.
As soon as he has an hour off, the professor of Italian language sits always under the tall and shady trees of the boarding school’s garden. From there, the fields sowed with soy and potatoes by the students of the Agricultural Institute can be seen. His students listen to him talking about poets and writers, reading their texts and talking about what they wanted to say; but the students believe they do not understand much. They do not know that some right actions have results that are impossible to evaluate.
On the earth, amidst the black plates and the leaves of the salads of an intense emerald green color, under the sun that bends and in the hours that follow each other clinging to each other, they have found the right place to do a job. The students of the Italian professor write badly and do not understand two verses, but they shear the grass with order and constancy, they pull the string to plant the beans straight and they lovingly breed the hens with the tuft. After all, even if it is not his merit, these young farmers are quite a sight and the old man is happy.
Edoardo approached the professor who was reading few pages from a book and asked him how he was. “So and so, Edo …” – he replied. “What were you staring at prof ?”. “Nothing. I was looking at the fields surrounding the school “. “We never understand what you are thinking about prof.” added Edoardo. “I was thinking about what Alessio and Mattia said. I do not understand how we can be so angry about something that never happened. And if your girlfriend is raped … and if someone enters illegally in your house and steal your money … and if … and if … “. The professor closed the book and placed it beside him on the grass. Then, he asked Edoardo to sit down there with him, until the hour was over. The other boys were playing football against the back wall of the Agrotechnic or secretly smoking a cigarette. “Prof., they say so, but they do not even know them”. Edoardo was a sensitive boy and cared for the professor, who had been the first to help him in reading, which had always been a torture for his dyslexia. “The niggers do this, the niggers do that …” – Edoardo added, unconvinced. “I do not know Edo, maybe at 16 you should understand that words have the meaning that we want to give them, and I teach to make you understand this”. “You’re right, prof. They have never seen a black man. But they hear on television about the 36 euros that the niggers take without working, they hear that a Romanian has stolen in a house and raped an old woman, that a Moroccan punched a policeman who had arrested him with some coke … “. Edoardo saw that Alex and Nicola were approaching. The three students had just participated in a course about the evaluation of the trees’ health status through very advanced technological tools, and had become friends. Nicola asked the prof. what he was reading. The professor took up the book and read:
But you know, some of us feel that it’s a tension between God and man. And in every one of us this morning, there’s a war going on. […] And every time you set out to be good, there’s something pulling on you, telling you to be evil. It’s going on in your life. Every time you set out to love, something keeps pulling on you, trying to get you to hate. Every time you set out to be kind and say nice things about people, something is pulling on you to be jealous and envious and to spread evil gossip about them. There’s a civil war going on.
“And this war is within us … and this war is the center of our essence. We cannot fully know it with the thinking. But we can try to make the best part of our nature flourish by giving it the water it needs to quench its thirst. And we will try to see, to recognize and tear the black part of our heart, before it becomes real in this world, before it becomes a bad action and someone has to suffer ” – added the professor. He was preparing to speak to his students of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and was rereading some excerpts of his most inspired speeches. Nicola and Alex said nothing. Edoardo laughed: “You never stop working prof.? Not even in your hour off … “. “On April 4, 50 years ago, M. L. King was killed at the Loraine Hotel, and today I wanted to read some of his most beautiful words to remember his work and his life” – said the professor. “You got angry because yesterday Mattia said he would burn all the niggers, right? Nicola asked. The professor thought of Mattia: “he has a look so sweet when he talks about what he likes to do, to run around on the tractor to plow the fields, plant tree and spread manure …” – prof. He smiled at the
memory. “Prof … I’m not saying I would burn them, but the niggers in my town spend all day sitting in front of the church with their cell phones in their hands and if you go there and ask them if they want to come to work in your camp, be sure they will say no! ” – they were Alex’s first words. “prof. Did not the Romanians enter in your house before Christmas and stole all your grandmother’s memories, her dearest things? then you see that there is a bit of truth … “- Nicola said. Edoardo did not listen and looked at the field. Now the professor and the other boys were looking at the hedges at the back of the fields. “Prof., when I’m 18 I want to travel all over Europe on a racing bike,” said Nicola, who was a cycling champion. “Traveling will do you good” – the professor addressed all three of his students. “We all say words that hurt and do actions that make those around us suffer. However, we also have the desire to improve and be good. We must try to help those who can not see themselves in the moment of error. This means being friends. You three, give each other a hand. If you want to travel the world you must first know what there is to know about your land of origin. You must try to be good citizens and you must do it now “. He says that everything we do in life is ultimately a moral action. Even if we become warehouse workers, bricklayers or shop assistants, we will have to think about what we do because our decisions are important.
If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a word or song, if I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain. If I can do my duty as a Christian ought, if I can bring salvation to a world once wrought, if I can spread the message as the master taught, then my living will not be in vain.
The Italian professor and the three boys were shaken by the sound of the school bell. “Terrible this sound of the bell” – said the professor, with a shiver that slid down his back. The boys laughed: “Prof., we get used to the factory!” – Edoardo added. “It is there that we ignorants ended. Together with the blacks. So we’ll all be the same “- the three boys laughed and walked towards the class and the Italian professor followed them. It was the third hour of April 4, 2018 and the day would have been intense and difficult.
Written by Enrico Manganelli
Commissioned and translated by Alessio Mazzaro
The quotations in italics are extracts from the speeches that M. L. King Jr delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, on 3rd March and 4th February 1968; and the closing speech he pronounced in the Temple of Bishop Charles J. Mason, in Memphis, on April 3, 1968, the day before he was killed.