A curious event is about to start in our Province: the Happiness Festival. Talking about happiness in these hard times may sound odd, anachronistic, unrealistic, even disrespectful. And yet, its premises are not.
It all started with Robert F. Kennedy’s speech – given on March 18th 1968 – where he stated the following:
And if the Gross National Product includes all this, there is much that it does not comprehend. It does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It is indifferent to the decency of our factories and the safety of our streets alike. It does not include the beauty of our poetry, or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials… the Gross National Product measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile….
Ironically, and tragically, he pronounced this speech in the same year of his violent death.
Anyway, the idea of a Happiness Festival in Pesaro draws its inspiration from a simple fact: the Gross Domestic Product is totally inapt to measure the welfare of people. As Matteo Ricci (the President of the Province of Pesaro and Urbino) states: “this economic crisis is the proof that we have been using a wrong model for 30 years, based on success, easy money, appearance (and not substance), disengagement (…). Asking ourselves what is ‘happiness’ today means to re-think which are the important values in our society starting from work, justice and common good”.
This blog is not a “political” one and was born as a panoramic (and yet detailed) view on real Italy, as we Italians look upon our nation. If I decided to give space to the “Festival della Felicità” here is because it has a high purpose: that of measuring the so-called BES (Benessere Equo e Sostenibile – Fair and Sustainable Welfare) against the outdated and inadequate Gross Domestic Product.
It investigates real people (this is why this second edition of the Festival is based on our 5 senses) and not volitile stock market indeces. It deals with the quality of life and not with the quantity of money or goods produced. It has to do with human people, their stories, their life, their expectations, the air they breathe, the water of the sea they swim into in the Summer, the quality of the food they eat.
Of course the Festival does not aim at giving a disposable recipe for happiness (thousands of philosophers, sociologists, poets – and every single man on this earth have questioned on this topic since the beginning of time).
It represents an opportuny though to reflect on these difficult times, opening a chink of light in these dard days when newspapers only talk about unemployment and entrepreneurs killing themselves.