WASHINGTON – From tragedy to farce Italy has it all. Sadly, there is the daily tragedy of the hapless refugees coming from North Africa, or Syria who put their lives in the hands of thugs who steal their money and then abandon ship and leave them stranded in the middle of the crossing.
And then there is the deeper tragedy of the entrenched connections between corrupt politicians of every stripe and organized crime that seem to dominate every bit of any public procurement, national and local, every contract, every bid. Yes, in case you missed it, it seems that almost every political party represented in Rome’s City Council –majority and opposition– has ties with organized crime. And this is just the latest scandal.
Nobody likes to work
And then there is farce. Big farce. A large number of Rome’s Vigili Urbani, (or Polizia Municipale, a quasi-police force that serve the citizens of the municipality), decided that they were not in the mood to work on December 31, New Year’s Eve. And so many of them faked illnesses, took a leave of absence or produced other bizarre excuses. Well, how many among those who were supposed to report for duty did not show up? 20% ? 30% ? No, the exact percentage is 83.5%.
Yes, you got it right: 83.5% of those Vigili Urbani who were supposed to be on duty on December 31 made up excuses and it not show up for work. Among those who were supposed to work on the night shift the same day there seems to be a much higher devotion to duty. Only 38% did not show up. Compared to 83.5%, this is an almost heroic performance.
Roma Caput Mundi
And so, here it is. Roma Caput Mundi, “Rome Capital of the World”. To this day, the plaques that indicate the names of streets and squares in Rome still carry the ancient, illustrious inscription: S.P.Q.R., for Senatus Populusque Romanarum, “The Senate and The People of Rome”. In antiquity this acronym that appeared almost everywhere, on coins and on the military banners of the feared Roman legions, signified Roman power that extended throughout most of the ancient world.
The highest honor
And even in the latter days of the Empire Roman citizenship was the highest honor that any subject, from Britannia to Lydia, could receive. Indeed the Romans were an exceptional people: Dignitas, Maiestas, Auctoritas, Libertas Populi Romani, “Dignity, Majesty, Authority, Freedom of the Roman People”.
And today the revered inscription S.P.Q.R. is still on the coat of arms of the municipality of Rome, selflessly defended by the Vigili Urbani who do not show up for work.
As I said, in Italy there is tragedy, and then there is farce. Would you like to receive the honor of Roman citizenship, today?