NewTuscia – VITERBO – We have received and published a statement sent to us by Benito D’Ippolito, collaborator of the “Research Center for Peace, Human Rights and the Defense of the Biosphere” in Viterbo.
Osvaldo Ercoli was above all a good person, of unreserved generosity.
And he was also a person who loved to know and understand the hearts of men and of the world.
He was, so to speak, the Good Samaritan and Dante’s Ulysses.
He was a man of great value and great experience, and equally great candor and innocence, he was – to use the expression with which Truffaut once defined Andre’ Bazin – the man before original sin.
The suffering that human beings inflict on other human beings shocked and indignant and shook him to his very core, and he felt the duty, the categorical imperative, to counter it with all his might – both by impetuously opposing all violence and lies, and lovingly rescuing all the victims.
The wonder of the world, the harmony and beauty of the world, illuminated him with joy, as well as the exercise of agriculture – where he found his roots in a Virgilian way, his deepest memories and his most remote affections, and the serenity of those who know and love and look after the earth as a fruitful and fruitful mother – and likewise the exercise of mathematics – the discipline of his most assiduous studies and of his long-lived passionate teaching – which he practiced daily as a form of meditation and asceticism, of ecology of the mind and heart. Valery wrote that “vita Cartesii est simplicissima”: Osvaldo was a supporter of the Cartesian clartè, convinced of clear and distinct ideas, of methodical doubt, of rational research, of the communicability of knowledge, of the certainty that always supported him – and which he shared with Gandhi – that truth and goodness are the same substance (and so to speak the plot, the substrate, the breath that allows the world to exist), that right understanding and good action are the same thing.
But at the same time he knew that every human being also harbors a heart of darkness.
Also for this reason he was a friend of nonviolence, in the full and strong sense that Aldo Capitini gave to the expression “friend of nonviolence”.
Intransigent against violence and merciful to people.
He was not unaware of the torments of Dostoevsky’s characters, of the labyrinths of Kafka and Borges, of the infinite sadness, of the heroic protest and of the magnanimous appeal to universal solidarity which is in the voice that speaks in Leopardi’s prose and verses.
And it was precisely this awareness that moved him to action, both in the educational activity carried out in the public school and in the voluntary service, and in the inexhaustible nonviolent militancy, and in the political struggle and in the administrative work for the common good of humanity against the regime of violence, robbery, foolishness and corruption.
I should mention here the struggles in which we took part together in defense of the living world, human rights and peace.
I should mention the struggles against nuclear madness, against the environmental and cultural devastation that would have caused the senseless construction of Supercassia, against the destruction of the precious archaeological, naturalistic and thermal area of Bulicame that would have been the inauspicious and infamous outcome of the construction of crazy mega-airport that they wanted to impose there. Three nonviolent struggles that we, together with countless other people of good will, waged and won for the common good.
I should mention when we went to Aviano to try to prevent the take-off of the bombers that were wreaking havoc in the Balkans.
I should tell of countless occasions in which I was able to appreciate their meek courage and firm kindness in the harshest and most demanding nonviolent struggles.
And I should also mention his volunteer work as an educator in prison.
I should also mention his authoritative support and patronage of relevant concrete solidarity initiatives, from Africa to Upper Lazio.
I should mention his material and moral help to experiences of solidarity such as the “Valle Faul” social center of which the common friend and companion in nonviolent struggles Alfio Pannega was the soul and symbol.
I should mention his ongoing commitment to defend not only present and future humanity, but also past humanity: in Viterbo everyone remembers his initiative in memory of Giordano Bruno.
But here I just wanted to say my thanks to a great friend, a true teacher, a living witness of human dignity who has now left us.
Over the course of my years, which are now also declining, I have known a Viterbo of giants of moral and civil commitment: from Achille Poleggi to Sauro Sorbini, from Raimondo Pesaresi to Marcello Polacchi, from Mauro Brilli to Giovanna Strich, from Alfio Pannega to Dante Bernini, to many and many others whose memory I keep in my heart.
Osvaldo Ercoli was the last of these giants, and right now I feel deep desolation in and around me.
But Osvaldo leaves us a legacy: the duty to continue his nonviolent struggles in defense of peace and justice, truth and mercy, the human rights of all human beings, of every life and of the entire living world. May we know how to collect it and fulfill it.
All the more so in this tragic moment of humanity, in which war roars and devours human lives even in the very heart of Europe, and almost only the pope’s voice is raised to invoke peace, to call for the necessary non-violent insurrection of intelligences and consciences to put an end to all wars, all massacres, all killings; to abolish all warfare and bloodshed, all organizations dedicated to killing, all murderous weapons. Saving lives is the first duty.
All the more so in this tragic moment of humanity, in which the Mediterranean is an immense cemetery in which the umpteenth massacre of the innocents is taking place, and for this horror the racist and slavery policies of the European governments are responsible in the first place, against which we should arise to fulfill the first of human duties: to save lives.
Especially in this tragic moment of humanity, in which the ongoing climatic catastrophe – caused by the senseless exploitation and the wicked devastation of the living world for the unclean benefit of a tiny minority of vampires – is about to overwhelm the entire human civilization, the entire human family. Saving lives is the first duty: there will be no salvation for humanity if we do not defend, preserve, respect, heal this only living world already so deeply wounded of which we are both part and guardians.
Osvaldo Ercoli also leaves us a further gift: there are already two generations that descend from him and from Maria – his beloved wife, also an unforgettable educator and example of human solidarity – and who have already been able to prove themselves as children and as citizens, and who will bear witness to good again and again, as Osvaldo and Maria have taught them.
And one last gift leaves us: love for this land and for the people who live there, for Vallerano where he was born ninety-two years ago and for Viterbo where he disappeared two days ago; a love that his great soul extended – since such is not only the mission of the scholar, but the vocation of the human being – to all humanity, to the entire living world.
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