Facing a disaster – what can you do?
What can you do when your house has crumbled down and your work and income were bound to the place where you live? I guess it hasn’t happened to you, but there are folks which are truly left alone with that problem.
Today we decided to drive into the area where many villages and towns were heavily compromised by strong earthquakes from August 2016 on. We live about 50km as the crow flies from the epicenters of these earthquakes. I felt them strongly, nothing happened here to my house, but o boy, it did destroy more than I had feared.
Driving to the earthquake area – a real shock!
It is only for 2 weeks (after 10 months of inaccessibility), that one road has been opened into the area, from Norcia to Castelluccio on the high plateau of the Sibillini mountains. Some parts of the road were completely renewed, others limited to one track and you see the outer part of the road hanging down, and heaps of rocks, as you would expect. Then the view opened up to the plateau – and WOW. A huge crack runs over the mountain chain now, the rock has broken open over many kilometers. I remained in awe considering how much power had been released to split the mountain.
Finally in Castelluccio, the village of the famous lentils: I had been there many, many times. Only a few years ago the last of the previously abandoned houses had been rebuilt and tourists came to visit the village or even buy a tiny house, especially people passionate about Hang Gliding, as a school had been founded in this place.
See here what is left of the village. I took this photo from the spot where during my last visit two years ago I had sat on the porch of a bar and specialty shop, enjoying the delicious local food.
The building of the bar has collapsed, the shop and bar-service are now offered from a trailer – and it is only for these last few weeks that a handful of people show up again and buy their stuff. And the 10 months in between?
What the people tell us
Talking with the owner I mentioned that they are very unfortunate because they are left alone in their misfortune. WE ARE LUCKY BECAUSE WE ARE STILL ALIVE – was his answer. Wow again!
He told me a little about the event and what happened later. From last August on, when the first earthquake hit about 25km to the south – when 300 people were killed – everybody living in that area was on high alert. And when 2 strong earthquakes hit 4 days before the big one, everybody went to sleep in campers or tents – and that’s why they survived. A witness reported that during the strokes he wanted to leave his camper but the surface of the street came up, right into his face, the waves were incredibly high. He still lives – or lives again – in his camper near the mobile bar and right next to the container-station of the military – who don’t seem to be active or even interested in fixing anything, just wandering around, in 5 or 6, while the village is doomed in its state of total destruction.
People who once lived there are not allowed to enter their houses, and the bar keeper himself had to fight to be allowed to come back and open his little activity in front of his destroyed property. “Maybe in 30 years”, he said, “our shop will be in our house again”, With that, he expressed clearly the little hope for help which the people have in Italy to come back into a normal life. This is the common experience here. The historic city Nocera Umbra to the north of Assisi was totally destroyed in 1997. Now, in 2017, it is finally rebuilt, but with almost nobody living in the historic center anymore. After 20 years everybody has found some other place to live and to earn their money, not by choice, but by necessity.
How long would you wait to come back home?
How long would you be able to wait for coming back into your property? Two years? Three, maybe five? But 20 years is a long time.
Our bar keeper is “fortunate” compared to those people from Nocera Umbra because he will be able to make a living, sooner or later, again, from a camper, a tent or a house, as he can offer what people need who come and visit this place: drinks and food. And we started to help him by buying some of his marvelous salami and by having a morning snack
in his place. We also bought salami and cheese from his competitor on the other side of the Piazza who has opened a tent-shop in front of the open space which once was his house and shop…
The official lies about reality
You cannot imagine what an earthquake of this magnitude can do. Officially – for many unscientific reasons (see my previous blog posts here and here)- it ended up with a magnitude of 6.6 in the records. Cutting a mountain in half needs a little more. The bar keeper said it was 8.0 and this comes nearer to the truth. It could have been 7.6 to 7.9, but certainly not only 6.6. The quake has moved the whole mountain. A hang glider told me that he could see from above that, in addition to the crack we can see from the plateau, there is another one right behind the mountain top which literally has cut it into two parts.
Another unpredictable result of the event: the fountains in the whole area have dried out, the water veins have been blocked and the water has found a different way. It is now pouring out of the mountain near Norcia, in thousands of liters per second. This will change everything and, hopefully, the farmers find a way to continue to plant their famous lentils despite the lack of water.
“I Love Italy” – and how it is abandoned
Hold on, I still need to tell you about Norcia, the city which was so proud to have resisted the first earthquake in August last year. Norcia is now an incredible mix of “life as usual” and huge amounts of debris.
The inviting restaurant on the square in front of the theatre – the colorful life as usual.
And 50 m from there in a side street: we have an ice cream in a bar – and a clear view on one of the two crumbled churches in the small Piazza
and two or three workers slowly beginning to erect some scaffolding: not to fix anything, no, but to just keep in place what has not yet fallen down.
A bank in the main street neatly restored and the shop in the same building open, while right next to it abandoned shops and small announcements that they are still working, somewhere, outside the city.
Whoever goes there and buys their goods? The tourists come and see the historic center and buy something there; they don’t drive to the industrial area to buy something which they couldn’t even desire without seeing it exposed while strolling by.
So how do they make their living if they are not among the fortunate ones who are allowed to open their shops again in the center?
( I guess about 80% of the commercial activities are closed).
And even those who are open again do not really have many clients. I have never seen so few people in Norcia in the past 30 years and my 20+ visits there.
The main attractions are either completely destroyed, like the 4 main churches,
or are inaccessible like the town hall which seems as if still contemplating if it is better to tumble down, too, for giving a consistent appearance to the main piazza, where only the medieval castle sits perfectly in place like a flat rock.
How interesting is a disaster in the long run?
Yes, some people are interested to come and visit these places, the “earthquake tourists”. But most people come to visit Italy and the Italian cities for admiring something beautiful and not for getting sad and thoughtful about the uncertainty of life which is expressed so clearly in the natural destruction of what has been created with so much effort.
The following thought is almost unavoidable: Imagine how places look like after a war, after intentional destruction. That’s where we don’t really like to go, and alas, who knows how many steps we are away from such a scenario?
What can WE do? – What can I do in the face of disaster?
I am an optimist and I believe that we are all called to engage in activities and with people who passionately work for a better world. I am speaking of people like Jordan Peterson who has opened my eyes and helped me to recognize my “new-age” illusions about the “goodness of everything”, to see my naïveté regarding my irrational hopes and folly acts of trust in people who don’t merit it. I came to understand that there is true malevolence in this world and that we need to learn to recognize it and to stand up against it – as does Steven Greer by disclosing the secrecy with which we mercilessly are misguided. View previous posts on this blog here and here and here)
And here is a big “Thank You” to Ken Wilber who taught me to see the bigger picture and to appreciate the efforts which people do in one or more quadrants of reality. My attempt is now to bring together all these seemingly disconnected aspects and to realize their value and transmit what they bring to the table in service of a truly better world – and to help to diminish, or even end, the influence of the malevolent forces in power.
Will you join me? And in case your house crumbles with the next earthquake, be sure to knock on my door!
So, do you believe in God? What would be YOUR answer to the question? And what would it have been 10, 20, 30 or even 40 years ago?
Let’s assume for a moment that your answer is “no” right now. Many people in our western world would give that answer because they believe in rationality and science and not in the old man with the long beard sitting in the clouds or setting bushes in fire. Fair enough.
Not the right question to ask!
Probably still yesterday I would have answered similar to: “I don’t believe in God, but I am a spiritual person”. And, actually, I never have given a profound thought to the question, I just repeated what I heard others say and which seemed to suit me as well. Then I watched the following video – and I became aware of the inappropriateness of the question itself which is so commonly asked in all times and everywhere.
Jordan Peterson makes it very clear that not everyone gives the same meaning to objects or words. We all have our own ways of perception and interpretations of what we perceive. Nonetheless, this is not a completely arbitrary process and you can observe some patterns in the way people perceive the world.
The Evolution of GOD
When we talk about GOD, the development of the “image” of God and what people believed God to be and to do, you can read a very interesting book called “God 9.0”. The entity we consider “God” has changed in fundamental ways since the beginning of time and today we can envision “version 9.0” of what we connect with the word GOD. Read the book (you can get it HERE) and you will understand why religious wars have reigned on earth, why you yourself believed in the almighty God as a child if you grew up in a “religious” family and why some people are seeing the world in the same old way while you have lost your faith in God and, maybe, now you believe in energy, crystals, psychotherapy, science, atheism and what not.
So when Jordan Peterson doesn’t answer the question whether he believes in God but challenges it as meaningless, he exactly responds to the insight that the terms “God” and “believe” are absolutely unclear and need a much longer answer than “yes” or “no” in our evolved societies. There was a time when you were supposed to say “yes” or you were burnt on the pyre if you dared to have your own ideas about God, the Divine and the Sacred. This, unfortunately but understandably, is still the case in parts of the world, regarding religion or political belief systems.
Between God 2.0 and God 6.0 – that’s where the problems come from
Our western world has managed to, basically, step up to “God 6.0”, while other parts of the world are still between 2.0 and 4.0. Let us make sure that we keep up the development and go towards 7.0 and higher – instead of allowing terrorism, conservative security needs or liberal utopian ideas to crash that which we have already achieved. Let us not fall back into political purging of “others” through fascist or communist ideology, and let us overcome rationality as religion as well as New Age Pseudo Spirituality. Let us open our minds to ever more comprehensive and differentiated ways of seeing the world. Although the answers we can give will often be “I don’t know” (as Jordan P. is demonstrating with all his honesty in the above video), we are coming nearer and nearer to the truth – which is never merely yes or no!
The World is Sound – Nada Brahma
Music is a innate capacity of humans. It is the most fundamental means for our expression, especially when we use our voice, and it has the power to influence our whole being.
Music develops alongside humans
Along with our social-psychological development, music too has developed over the centuries. It is a real pleasure to meet the young composer Samuel Andreyev in this interview with Jordan Peterson where they explore together the power of music and the development it has taken up to the present. Even for non-musicians this conversation is quite understandable – and a musician also gains a expanded perspective.
This happened certainly with me. I was very delighted with the analysis and could confirm from my own experience what these two intelligent and open minds were talking about.
Jordan Peterson in conversation with the composer Samuel Andreyev
My experience as a musician
I am a classically trained singer and my main interest has always been classical music. I always enjoyed the music, from the middle ages to the early 20th century – but there it stopped for me. My experience of singing in a professional choir taught me how difficult it is to study pieces by 12-tone composers like Webern, Schönberg or those of the sixties like Penderecki and others. Those concerts had a certain fascination as sound experiences – but is it really worth all this huge amount of preparation? I always decided NO for myself – maybe only because of my lack of an absolute ear (perfect pitch) – which would have made singing these pieces so much easier?
How we learn to hear and expand our perception
One thing I noticed though – and it was addressed also by Samuel Andreyev in the interview above: The more you study a piece, whatever music it is, the more you get familiar with it and it becomes “your” music. This is the point where your interpretation of the piece will come from inside you rather than just a repetition of the ideas of someone else. When we really understand the music and own it by continuous practice, it becomes familiar and we begin to really enjoy it – which often was not the case when we encountered it the first time.
What sounds GOOD to our ears?
This is the reason for a continuous expansion of our ability to hear and accept newness in music. The acceptance of what sounds “good” has developed from total harmony (octaves), to fifths and up to all the harmonic intervals. Today it is almost unimaginable that once a third had been considered a dissonance! Our perception of what we hear as consonance or dissonance has developed until today when we can enjoy whole clusters of adjacent sounds. This is just a harmony of a higher level – as all these notes appear, sooner or later, on the scale of the harmonics of the basic note.
Personal development and enjoyment of music
In short: I realized that, today, my ear has developed so far as to accept music which I had dismissed totally 30 years ago. That doesn’t mean that all music is “good” which is offered today. Good music has a certain felt attraction. Maybe not at first hearing. “Hear it 10 times and then find out what you feel about it!” This is also the recommendation by the composer Samuel Andreyev.
When you listen to his music – especially after having watched his conversation with Jordan Peterson – you probably will find it very attractive, or at least interesting and well worth listening to!
Have you ever given a thought to how we are shaped by our environment? So where you live is shaping you, your habits, your desires, your idea of leisure time and the way you think and feel.
Living in a city versus living in the countryside
If you always have lived in a big city you became almost insensitive to noise and dirt – and you will feel insecure in a tranquil country place which seems boring to you with all the nature around and no usual entertainment and excitement.
If you have lived always in the countryside you hardly can perceive its beauty and you probably are thirsty of the excitements available in a city. Being far from the places where you think “real life” happens, keeps you in a belief of lack.
Today we went on a bike ride through South Umbria. I noticed places where I was used to seeing sheep and cows – no sign of animals anymore. The young generation doesn’t want to continue the country life of their parents and grandparents. What are they doing instead? Increase the amount of people without stable jobs – but living in more fancy places than the old farm. – Is this REALLY BETTER?
Life in the ancient villages in Italy – like it was time ago, but how long?
Then there are the little villages and towns, also threatened of being left for the big city, but still maintaining a good number of inhabitants – and others come to join them, especially from other countries, because they love ITALY.
In places like Calvi dell’Umbria life is still quiet, especially on Sundays. People go to church, sit in Piazza and have a cappuccino or just hang around and chat. Especially men gather and just chat, even sitting on the church steps. Imagine this: no internet chat, but REAL LIFE CHAT. Can you feel the difference? And can you imagine how YOU would feel if you lived in such a place where the clock is still going slower than in the outside (success driven) world?
Earthquakes in Italy is not a new thing. The plate boundary between the African and the European plate goes right through Italy and many villages and towns have been destroyed in the past centuries. Every 10 or 15 years another town collapsed, business as usual: the big outcry, the promises to rebuild the towns, the collected money, given by compassionate souls, disappeared in someone’s pockets. After 20 years or so coming back to the previous home town often is not a choice anymore.
The government announces subsidies for these measurements. Yes, you might get some money, but first YOU have to pay (for the administration practices etc.) – and you need to be VERY patient until they finally decide if you are chosen for the subsidies or not. After the big earthquake near Assisi in 1997 people couldn’t begin to reconstruct their houses right away if they wanted to ask for subsidies. And so they had to wait for YEARS until they could begin with the reconstruction. That’s why it took 20 years, altogether. But Assisi itself was reconstructed in 2 years or so. Why? It was the church paying and the many catholic people in the world who feel connected with the city of Saint Francis. They didn’t wait for the government to move.
This article was published on branded.me in October 2016 You see it here in its original version as a consideration after the summer – but before the huge new earthquake on Oct. 30th in Italy which we could perceive very strongly, but we had the warning and we knew it would come. This changed everything because being prepared takes the fear out of the equation.
As long as I remember I was always looking forward to summer – and then it was over too quickly. Do you know that feeling of needing to dress warm again, no summer nights on the terrace watching the stars, but…..
For many years in my life, there was the new beginning of the season, the school year, courses of all kinds. And the preoccupation: will I have enough students to get on until next summer, the longed for a time in a far distance?
Times have changed, outside in the world, inside in my home and inside myself.
Yes, there will be another winter – hopefully for me, too. No reason why it shouldn’t be, but only a few weeks ago, nearby, 300 people died in their beds, at night, during a 6.2 earthquake. It can always happen, to everybody of us. An earthquake of the one sort or the other.
Spring will come again!
Then in spring, the beauty of the flowers, the warmth of the sun, deeply appreciated. Oh, could it never end!
Summer is great, but soon too hot and we wait for some cooler days, not too much over 30°, please. We drag along during the hot days, enjoy the cooler, but beautiful warm nights, one day resembles the other. too hot to do something important – and even the computers go into strike without ventilation.
Autumn: the Olive Harvest is the most important thing
And now, again, almost autumn, the grapes mature, then the olives need to be picked, the year goes on, as always….
Life is so precious in its ongoing sameness and evolving differences, Taste it well before the earthquake surprises you.
PS: (January 2017)We have picked the olives, a German couple came to help us who, previously, had watched the TV program which had been shot some years ago here in my place. We pick them by hand – a wonderful work. I cannot imagine to use vibrating machines to do it instead. The noise and the holding up of the picking stick would destroy the meditative setting in the connection with NATURE.
Watch the video below. It might not be visible in some countries due to YouTube restrictions. Sorry if that should be true for you!
It was a nice time, warm weather and a good amount of olives. We had about 60l of oil, enough for the year and for give it away to family and friends.
If you are interested in helping us pick the olives one year (mid-end of September), please let us know)
Most people say they LOVE Italy, not necessarily the Italians themselves, but all the tourist who see the beautiful sides of the country.
Today I will post some photos for you which I took in the last few weeks, touring through Umbria in bicycle or in car, as a resident in Italy for 30 years.
Today I don’t want to talk about the many things which DON’T work in this country – and those are truly many many. Today I focus on what is still keeping me here, despite all.
And finally, good night, the work day is over for today. Have a nice weekend!
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