Lunchtime in Italy: On solidarity in civic life

Jonathan Levy in the Boston Review:

The morning after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, my partner Skyped her parents back home in Italy. I finished my coffee, and they chatted. At some point her mother asked where I was: I had broken my usual pattern of dropping in to say ciao. My partner slid the laptop over to direct the camera’s gaze at my head, slumped onto our dining room table. “What happened?” the voice on the computer asked. “Trump won,” I explained.

It is not that my in-laws did not appreciate the gravity of the event; they were stunned too. Born under Mussolini, they preferred to look fondly upon the United States whenever possible. After all, the U.S. Army helped liberate their country from fascism. Like many outside the United States, and unlike many Americans, they appreciate the power the U.S. government enjoys abroad. After sharing in the dour mood, to console me, my mother-in-law asked, “Well . . . what is there for lunch?”

The question was a nudge back from the brink of political despair. But many questions could have accomplished that end. She asked about lunchtime. Having been visiting Italy regularly for over a decade, I could understand why.

More here.