Let us imagine for a second that we are flying and observing the panorama below. Aided by a simple camera that records, searches, and focuses from above, we realize that today, among people, it is increasingly difficult to meet serene and smiling faces, able to transmit carefree bliss. Immediately, we feel the void, and if we allow ourselves to glide and let the wind carry us, things we still see, do not make us feel easy…
There is this couple down there, in the street; the feeling they express as they walk embracing each other, seems to defy the world. They run towards the future, firmly and steadily, but if we look into their eyes, the naturally challenging quality of youth, in fact, is tinged with a feeling of angry protest against those who stole the hope of a project from them. Young people can be divided into two categories today: the disillusioned and angry, and the desperate, who have given up. They do not have points of reference and are waiting for things to change on their own, without feeling like they have to be the first ones to take action in order to get out of this state of stagnation that damages them too.
Our eyes move on and we immediately run into an adult couple. They joke and laugh, but not with each other. They are attracted by the images and messages on the phone, out of their couple dimension, immersed in dialogue, true or false, with God knows who, they do not even exchange a hasty gaze or a couple of words with the other…
In a relationship, this object called smartphone, a source of emotions such as joy, sadness, and anger, has changed communication, switching from one chat to another and creating a real addiction, like coffee, cigarettes, or drugs. The tender glance between two people was stolen by technology, which has become vital in everyday life, with disturbing implications because it has taken away the freedom to live. We are constantly monitored, scrutinized, followed… enslaved.
Now, let us look more closely at those people of a certain age who are sipping coffee together while sitting in a bar, watching passers-by. They look away with contempt when an immigrant draws near to sell them something. “This Italy has changed too fast and we can no longer keep up with it, we need support, but our children cry out that we are still young, they expect an even economic assistance that we can no longer give them. My retirement pension is not enough anymore”, they say in a sad and dejected dialogue. Their faces inspire tenderness, cry out fatigue. They gave so much love in their lives. Today, their resigned look tells the violence they have suffered.
I rejoiced when changing images when the frame is on two children jumping rope trolling the last end school song. They look and concern, in what looks like an exchange of eternal promises. With the eyes of love, they seem to say to each other: “I’m your friend.” This is the beauty of childhood. As children our eyes always met other eyes friends or family, those of the mother, the grandmother, the father, the teacher, with a time marked according to the children’s natural and necessary pace, without end and without haste. Those loving glances were like the air, the ‘water, bread, life for our growth.
I rejoiced when the camera focused on two children who were jumping rope and merrily singing the end school song. They look at each other again and again, and it looks like they are exchanging eternal promises. With the eyes of love, they seem to tell to each other: “I am your friend.” This is the beauty of childhood. When we were children, our eyes always met other eyes, those of our friends or family, those of our mother, grandmother, father, or teacher. Time flew following children’s natural and necessary pace, without end and without haste. Those loving glances were like air, water, bread, life for our growth.
Whereas today there seems to be no more time for love.
Modern moms cannot find time to tell their sons: “You are my joy,” or, to give some advice on how to behave, or “Finish your mean at the school canteen.” Only a short message on WhatsApp, with a smiley face, sent from another room, while both are at home. Dads no longer take their sons to the stadium for a football match, there is just television, a comfortable sofa and the possibility to stop the video in case someone calls or sends a message.
Everyone’s life has a stop button now. On ourselves. At the end of our flight, the many eyes that have not looked remain engraved in our memory, so many faces without a smile, so many looks without love in a time that is stolen, chased, denied.
Jesus was building authentic relationships through his eyes, with each person and with the crowds, with the disciples, with Peter, Zaccheus, and Matthew. And his look contained love. “Jesus fixed his gaze on him, loved him and told him…” We need such a look to live, sometimes, even to survive. A look of love, one that captures the soul to make it free, extolling the beauty lurking in each one of us.
Jesus stops to look in the eyes of every person, following the exhausting path of the personal encounter. Similarly, I do not want to fly, I go down with my feet on the ground and I tell all those people I observed to look at each other with love, to find the time to tell each other: “You are important”, sing a good song together, hand in hand, with joy, like children do.