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Themes:     Culture & Tradition (15)  
Tags:    Ladin     Thoughts
 
Michil Monday, 1 July 2013

A true Ladin

Up until some time ago I was easily upset if someone asked me the question: do you feel more Italian or more German? It seemed to me a very stupid question and my pride at being Ladin came out vehemently. "I am Ladin - I would reply - Ladin and nothing else". I had an image of how I believed myself to be, of that which I wanted to be - a true Ladin - and that image prevented me from seeing myself for what I actually was.
A true Ladin
 
 
 
'When I was young the mountains represented an obstacle for me, a setting where "nothing ever happens". Now they are the very window onto my world.'
Up until some time ago I was easily upset if someone asked me the question: do you feel more Italian or more German? It seemed to me a very stupid question and my pride at being Ladin came out vehemently. "I am Ladin - I would reply - Ladin and nothing else". I had an image of how I believed myself to be, of that which I wanted to be - a true Ladin - and that image prevented me from seeing myself for what I actually was.
However with the passage of time I have learned to know myself better. It is not so much a process of accumulating knowledge about myself but more to do with coming to terms with my own conscience. To know oneself is the fundamental starting point for wisdom: that pretext of mine to be totally Ladin had been a real easy one to accept and a simplification of things. What a delusion it was to think of myself as solely being of Austrian-Hungarian stock and making me an individual with certain prejudices and an ideology upon which to base my political creed, even giving rise to some nationalistic sentiment. What I forgot is that before being individuals we are essentially human beings and the first responsibility as such is to look inside oneself, to explore one's own intimate self, to stand back from the edge of frenzied frantic behaviour, and to knowingly interpret one's own mind. If we were to be subject to every external influence we would not be able to discover the beauty that is within us, nor able to be vital nor composed. No, the idea of being a man of second grade no longer appeals to me.
To be Ladin means two things: to know its language and to live in the middle of the Dolomites. It is also true that in us there is an innate spontaneity typical of the mediterranean character and yet the seriousness and sense of duty to be found in the Nordic populations. It is no coincidence that the Ladins descend from the Celts, born between the Upper Rhine and the source of the Danube. But the question is what is it which distinguishes the native Ladin from the non Ladin? The truth is that in the things which count we are magnificently and differently equal! Not even the freedom to perceive the perfection of the Dolmite peaks and to feel the impulse of the spectacular landscape setting off some reaction within us is peculiar to Ladin folk. Freedom is more a state of mind, a sense of being in harmony with oneself, and with our interior being. In this respect we Ladins are faciltated and aided by the incomparable beauty of the mountain landscape where we live, it succeeding in illuminating the essential vitality between mind and heart. When I was young the mountains represented an obstacle for me, a setting where ''nothing ever happens''. Now they are the very window onto my world.
We are Ladin, we speak our own language - a language which needs to be preserved -, but we are anything else but isolated, excluded, removed from the world. So to the question "do you feel more Italian or more German?" I no longer get angry and nor do I reply as before. In this way I break down a wall which is in me, freeing myself from any prejudice or ideological considerations that I and others like me may have so that we are able to be Ladin, certainly yes, but also and above all citizens of the universe. This outcome comes about when we understand that the most important effect of beauty is to create harmony. And when we are in harmony we will be free - free human beings.

Michil Costa
 
 
 
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