Pope Francis and Valentino Rossi

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The Sepang clash between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez has filled the pages of all the sports newspapers around the world. But that duel, which will inevitably continue to be discussed, opens also to a wider sociological reflection which is not connected to the context of MotoGP. The crux of the problem revolves around respect of rules. What do we mean by this term? Simplistically, adherence to the principles written in some catalog, which is ethical, moral or legal. Conformity relieves consciences, it allows us to envelop ourselves into a coat of formal purity which often lacks substance. Rules are not only those written, essential for civil coexistence as well (Hobbes docet), but those of intellectual honesty.

In this specific case, Marquez used two different sets of parameters in relating to two pilots who were competing at the World Championship:  He allowed Lorenzo to pass giving him way, and blocked Rossi in a rustic duel. There can only be two possibilities: either competition is sacred with respect to every opponent, in this case the fight should have been led against both of them, or one has to the step aside so as not to disturb the race, and also in this case, the approach should have been the same for both opponents. But this is not what happened, with the aggravating circumstance of a “butt” to which the Doctor responded by changing the position of his leg of 35 degrees, enough to make his Spanish adversary fall down.

Honesty, thus, is not referable to the observance of  formal rules, but to the moral approach we have in doing the things we do. It is worth asking: in our every-day lives, how many times each one of us has been Marquez, claiming to be right merely because “inside” the rules? How many times do we live our personal and business relationships, following not what would be right to do, but formal compliance with the regulations? How many times, after having cursed the monster of bureaucracy, we swallow it to defend ourselves from larger responsibility?

Too often, perhaps, we are not able to accept the others’ success, our pride does not allow us to take a step back, we claim to live without considering the rights of others.  At times, the success of the others and the weaknesses of the others annoy us. In every sphere of our lives. And we act (or, our choice is exactly the opposite, not to act and not to take a position) while keep complying with rules and thus absolving ourselves from any liability, eliminating simultaneously what annoys us or makes us question ourselves.

During the same week-end when in Sepang happened the psycho-drama on “two-wheels”, in Rome Pope Francis exhorted Christians not to “fall” (ironically, he used exactly this word) into ‘formal faith’. “We can walk – the Pope said – together with God’s people, but we have our own roadmap, which comprises everything”. Whereas it is true that Christianity is not only an iconographic religion, but a way of being and living, we can and we must ask ourselves at least one question, which, truth to be told, does not involve Catholics alone, but every human being as such. We feel rightful because we limit ourselves to applying written teachings. But in so doing, can we say to be truly honest?

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