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Valerie and the right to have a future

The photo of Valerie on the ruins of the school of Kharkiv is the symbol of future generations who want to rebuild us

By Giulia Mossuto

We keep in our cultural baggage generations of individuals raised on bread and rebellion, even just by hearsay. It is a rebellion of society, capitalism, homologation, corruption, wars and so on. It is that rebellion for which they wore the red mantle music, cinema, art or literature, to make themselves champions of freedom, self-affirmation and fight against injustice. And a sign has undoubtedly been left if in the streets young voices protest against climate change, homotransphobia or gender inequality.

But there should be a limit to everything. An insurmountable limit within which to realize that that act of rebellion must certainly be flaunted as a pride of our generation, but also as a defeat of the world in which we live. Valerie is one of these limitations. She and her red dress have gone viral during this time. He is 16 years old and is of Ukrainian origin, precisely of Kharkiv, one of those places in short that now none of us arouses indifference.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Grazia Italia (@grazia_it)

The photo that portrays her and made her popular looks like one of those images taken from a movie. Maybe one of those usual films about war that we are given at school, which we take for granted, because there are also children or young people acting and then we find ourselves having to feel compassion for quiet living with the teacher.

But here it is not any fiction and what you feel looking at the photo is absolutely nothing recycled. Valerie plays the role of herself, or rather, of the one who should have been in this June: she wears a large and fluffy red dress, one of those that you dream for months and that you can hardly believe that you will wear. Or, as in this case, you can’t even believe where you’re gonna wear it. The hair is meticulously collected, the face made up as per occurrence, but the eyes are low. They fix a point not better specified, hoping perhaps to rise again and not to see what at the moment surrounds them: the school, the theater of that fabulous show that would have been the prom, is a pile of rubble and debris.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Osservatorio Diritti (@osservatoriodiritti)

The walls of the building remain miraculously high; they are the same walls that a student almost sees as unshakable, sometimes hoping for the absurd opposite: inside those walls he must necessarily carry out that hated test of mathematics, listening to that boring lesson about how primitive men lit fire or seeing that friend he hadn’t spoken to since the previous summer. But if you think about it, you know that it’s a good thing that they are unshakable: those walls have always welcomed tears for insufficiency or for love ended or laughter for that of the last row that always attacks the chewing-gum under the desk; those walls see thousands of eyes like those of Valerie look over the windows and imagine themselves doctor, dancer, lawyer, mathematician, beautician, painter, physicist or just someone happy who will decide after what they want to do.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Skuola.net (@skuolanet)

Even the students of the school in Kharkiv thought so, and they had already planned the graduation party, as Anna Episheva, the aunt of the young girl who just posted the photo on social media, says.
Since February 27, the school has been razed to the ground by Russian bombing. There was no celebration, no dance with hundreds of students excited about the end of school and the imminent future. To collapse was also and above all hope for the youngest and their safety; to remain instead, among those ruins that Valerie sadly observes, is the certainty that the surrounding world is not even the shadow of what they imagined in those classrooms.

The world is made up of those who look no one in the face, not even those who will have to take the place of today’s adults tomorrow. Much more important is one’s own present greed and if this means destroying the lives of hundreds of young people, let it be done, unscrupulous.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Corriere della Sera (@corriere)

Valerie knows this and decides to trample on him, with the only tools that a boy of his age can have: sweetness and hope. A bit like the good old Ligabue urged us to do at the end of the years "90: we dance on the world, any music is fine, we will fall dancing. On the world, you know, you slip."

We certainly join the words of Aunt Anna, "Thank you, my dear Valerie, for being strong and courageous", but we should reflect, unfortunately and do it with more dramatic tones. We cannot accept this act of rebellion only with enthusiasm, as one of the many fearless gestures that our young people are capable of.

The photo of Valerie is an alarming symbol of what remains today to the boys under those rubble. Unfortunately this is not a fun music to dance to. Surely you slip on the world, but you fall on it ruinously, because no one takes into account the fact that you are still 16 years old and a life ahead of you.

Normality has faded and it is no longer so obvious that a teenager can finish his studies in an integrated school, graduate with classmates, celebrate and choose what to do next.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da RaiNews (@rainewsofficial)

The young people are putting their weight behind it to cling to life despite the heaps of bombings under their feet: not only Valerie, also other peers of Kharkiv have in fact spread on the web a video in which they dance to the rhythm of a pop waltz. The walls of our normality have collapsed, yet hope remains: that hope of knowing that, in the midst of so much horror, one can still have the desire to rebuild the world from scratch.