The French writer Jean Giono, in “The Man Who Planted Trees”, narrates the story of an old shepherd that decided to withdraw in solitude in an uninhabited mountain area. With love, patience and dedication, he daily selects and seeds some acorns. The result is surprising: with the reforestation, the animals go back to populate this land once empty and desert, the sources start to flow again and the human beings find the right conditions to build villages and to give, in this way, continuity to life. All of that thank’s to the free thought of only one man, whose unforgettable personality, as defined by Giono, restored beauty and prosperity to the world.
Giono writes: “When I think that an only man, reduced to its simple physical and moral resources, was enough to bring the country of Canaan out of the desert, I find out that, in spite of everything, the human condition is admirable”.
In the non-literary reality, it took two people and a fund-raiser, but always and however, nothing compared to the whole population of the Earth. The concept remains the same: human will and love of neighbour are needed to operate in the not individual, but global interest.
It’s 1998, Sebastião Salgado, Brazilian photographer known all over the world for having documented, throughout his reportages, degrading situations, war and extreme poverty, goes back to Brazil and decided to make of his own the idea of his wife, Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado, despite considering it a bit crazy.
Among the various definitions of the word crazy in the Treccani dictionary, we read: “it is commonly said of those who conceive unreal or impossible things”.
Salgado, during his artistic career, has highlighted the brutal and fierce reality of suffering, death and destruction, but he knew, as a human being, to also have the task of contributing to create a better reality, that would have had as a precondition, the love for the Earth.
In 2018, more than 20 years after the conception of that idea considered a little crazy, Sebastião and Lélia count more than 4 millions of plants seedled int he nursery and then transplanted. They reforested about 17.000 acres of land in the valley of the Rio Doce, where we assisted, by the way, in the return of animal regarded as threatened.
Sometimes, intentions that might look impossible, constitute the real way for our freedom and salvation, as individuals and as inhabitants of this planet.
Thinking in a different way is the only way we have to restore beauty in a world in which disharmony and destruction are becoming the normality.
If Salgado would have set apart the idea of his wife, because too far and too different from those realities commonly considered possible, he would have not given this breath to Earth.
It’s throughout the free thought – that becomes gesture – of the Salgado family, that the Giono’s story comes to life, turning into a concrete and pure human wonder that creates instead of destroying, and that returns to the sender the word crazy, replacing it with more appropriate terms as: possible, achievable, feasible.