What is kindness really, and what is courage really? And why are these two qualities / virtues so closely connected to each other, and why they appear indispensable to becoming a truly aware, and therefore free, citizen? In a nutshell, the itinerary proposed by Gianrico Carofiglio in Of kindness and courage. Breviary of politics and other things, from 10 April on newsstands with Corriere della Sera for a month at 9.90 euros plus the price of the newspaper. It would be wrong to think that the two Carofiglian creatures, so loved by his audience (ie the lawyer Guido Guerrieri and the marshal Pietro Fenoglio) have completely disappeared from the scene. Of course they are not here: there is a lack of murders and cases to be solved. We are explicitly faced with a breviary: but the investigative method remains, this time applied to the discovery of ethics and its denial, therefore the pleasure of overturning the obvious and commonplaces as happens in an investigation of the many Carofiglio bestsellers. Here the author intends to indicate a summary of suggestions for the practice of politics and power but above all for the criticism and surveillance of power: that is, the dignity of citizens adequately structured to understand, know how to live together, criticize, respect, choose and reject. But always freely.

The cover of the volume

Three themes, indicated in the opening words: kindness as a method to face and resolve conflicts and a key tool for producing meaning in human relationships, courage as an essential civil virtue and vehicle for change. And then the ability to ask and ask questions – the ability to doubt, in short – as the core of critical thinking and therefore of active citizenship. A skill that distinguishes conscious citizens from subjects. A faculty that implies, look a bit, kindness and courage.

So, kindness. First misunderstanding cleared by Carofiglio: The practice of kindness does not mean escaping conflict. On the contrary, it means accepting it, bringing it back to rules, making it a means of possible progress and not an event of destruction. If fascisms and populisms live on the elementary, deadly logic that divides the world into friends and enemies, civilized man does not reject conflict. Instead, it accepts it as an inevitable and profitable part of complexity and coexistence. The author proposes a parallel, looking towards the East, between the Japanese samurai (the legendary master Miyamoto Musashi) entirely focused on the goal of killing the enemy, and the modernity of karate, with a phrase of its founder Gichin Funakoshi: Defeat the enemy without fighting the supreme skill.

Thus we arrive at the difference between good communicators and manipulators (here Carofiglio analyzes the Trump method at length), to the identikit of the ideal politician ready to put aside his ego so as never to make it a personal fact, to the dowry of metacognition, that is the ability to come out of oneself and to critically observe what you do, what you say, what you think. And if the incompetent are unaware, ignorant, of their own ignorance, the competent ones are aware of their own ignorance. Naturally we arrive at violent language, which is increasingly frequent, the result of simplifications and ignorance.

The opposite of all this is the art of doubting by asking, that is, the fundamental tool of critical and civil thought to counter all forms and practices of opaque, if not deliberately occult, exercise of power. An exercise of the individual that, collectivized, concerns democracy: The quality of democratic life depends on the number, the tenor, the effectiveness of the questions that challenge the exercise of power and subject it to unexpected scrutiny.

And here we are with courage and fear. Carofiglio puts aside trivial schematizations: Courage is no longer the opposite of fear and vice versa but fear is the premise of courage because there is no courage except as the result of a reaction, of an elaboration of fear and its transformation into the ability to act. Therefore courage is the good use of fear, an active reaction to individual and collective dangers. Also surprising is the praise of error (just as there is a praise of irony and self-irony) a sort of appendage to kindness and courage.

Here is the story of Michael Jordan, the basketball legend: I’ve missed over nine thousand shots in my life. I lost three hundred games. Thirty-six times my teammates have relied on me for the decisive basket and I missed it. I have failed many and many times in my life. And that’s why I won everything in the end. Here the circle of reasoning proposed by Carofiglio closes: Living with error and uncertainty implies courage; it implies a cautious approach (cautious courage, recklessness and imprudence), and therefore kind, to the attempt to transform the world and give it meaning. Of course, in the pages there are many links to current events (in addition to Donald Trump appear Matteo Salvini, Giorgia Meloni, Alessandro Meluzzi, and we could continue). But in the book the central idea really counts: Kindness together with courage (in reality the two characteristics, correctly understood, are inseparable) means taking responsibility for one’s actions and one’s being in the world. Even more succinctly: accepting the responsibility of being human.

The volume

on newsstands from 9 April with Corriere the volume by Gianrico Carofiglio, Of kindness and courage. Breviary of politics and other things (released in 2020 for Feltrinelli) at € 9.90 in addition to the price of the newspaper; remains on newsstands for a month. the last title of the series dedicated to the author by Corriere in 2020 Carofiglio (Bari, 1961) author of short stories, novels, essays. Former magistrate, he was a senator of the Democratic Party from 2008 to 2013. In 2020 he was a finalist at the Strega with The measure of time (Einaudi Freestyle).

The initiative

Il Corriere has dedicated a series to the writer and former magistrate, which went on newsstands in 2020, which collects his most significant works, including novels and essays, and which now ends with this latest title, Of kindness and courage. The series opened with the first book published by the writer, Unaware witness, legal thriller released for the first time in 2002 by Sellerio and over the years has become a longseller. Among other releases, too Three in the morning; A changing truth; With closed eyes; The past is a foreign land (with which he won the Bancarella in 2005); Night passengers; Fenoglio’s version; Neither here nor elsewhere. One night in Bari, until The measure of time (Einaudi Stile libero, 2019), a novel with which he won second place in the 2020 Strega Prize. With your feet in the mud. Conversations about politics and truth e The art of doubt. Carofiglio also protagonist of a conversation, curated by Cecilia Bressanelli, in la Lettura # 489, previewed on Saturday 10 April in the App and Sunday 11 on newsstands with Corriere. Rachele Bastreghi, the female voice of the Baustelle, talks with the author, with whom the writer talks about his most recent novel, Penelope’s discipline, released in January by Mondadori and now in the Top ten of best-selling books.

April 9, 2021 (change April 9, 2021 | 21:27)

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