A universal letter to women

Giotto (1266-1336), Meeting at the Golden Gate, detail, Scrovegni Chapel,
Padua (Italy) © 2024 Foto Scala, Florence

Solomeo, 15 February 2024

For a long time I have wanted to write a letter to women, and I remember that this desire arose on the day my first granddaughter was born. On that afternoon several years ago, before her birth, we were all standing by – my wife, my two daughters, my son-in-law and I – but we two were the most apprehensive of what was about to happen: we thought about the risks, what we did not know scared us a little. Federica, Camilla – who was expecting – and Carolina, on the other hand, were serene, their eyes shone, because the joy of the impending event outweighed everything that was not beautiful. That's when I realised that women have something that we men lack, as we are so entangled in an often vain logic; they have something that nature did not provide us with, but luckily enough, if we know how to do it right, we can be enlightened by it all the same just by living next to women.

What fascinates me is not just insight or feeling, but a special courage that prompts women to uphold and fight for the ideals and dreams that live in their hearts, and to go beyond the limits where others stop; at the same time, these qualities seem to me to be something higher, which one does not know where it is. How many times has philosophy, throughout the ages, confirmed that the greatest strength of humans lies in their ability to feel, to be moved, to have ideals, to go beyond the hedge that encloses them in everyday life. The Alexandrian philosopher and mathematician Hypatia stated: "Understanding the things that surround us is the best way to understand the things that are beyond". This, I understood on the evening when Vittoria was born, is indeed characteristic of women; therefore, I write this letter to you, feeling slightly bashful and aware of your very special gift: you women live in deep harmony with nature, and that sublime thing that is love shines in you like the brightest star.

Since ancient times, it was men who wrote history, with wars, politics, power play: a male history that has lasted too long. And yet, like stars from the past, the fascinating lives of women who lived in glory shine forth: poets like Sappho, painters like Kalypso, Eirene, Timarete, mentioned by Pliny, philosophers like Arete, a student of Plato, who wrote about morals, and Fintis, a student of Pythagoras, who wrote about temperance. If memory teaches us one thing, it is that each of these ancient women is the bearer of a legacy that is handed down to you today. They lived in a time that was harsh for women, and yet they managed to become, over the centuries, a universal example.

I often think that today you are in a situation that allows you, while continuing to appreciate what nature gives us, to look at the future realistically, since both women and men are fully aware of the importance of gender equality. I think that it is important and necessary for you to begin to enter history no longer as individuals, but all together, thanks to an intelligence that – besides logics and intuition – is rich in the intelligence of the heart; I have experienced in life that sentiment is a precious gift that is not limited to joys and sorrows, but leads to knowledge. History brims with your brilliance; so many more women could be added to the list I mentioned earlier! Poets like Sappho, philosophers like Hypatia, and in more modern times painters like Artemisia Gentileschi and architects like Plautilla Bricci, then gradually up to the present, brave, visionary women who were aware of their reality.

This is something charming that you share with poets, it is that genius that men can usually only experience in dreams, whereas poets and you women can access it more easily and turn it to creativity. Humanity expects you to use every one of your best qualities to move the world forward towards the bright future that awaits us. Sometimes it occurs to me that the word "my" or "mine" is not always that becoming, especially when referring to human relationships. Ownership between people is to be avoided. It is just us, sisters and brothers, sailing in a fascinating and eternally deep blue sea called humanity. If a man does not understand this, he is not for you. Nature has filled you with gifts, and they are golden gifts that allow you to enter history as you deserve.

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