From the Founder

I was born in 1936 in a small Sicilian town in the South of Italy.

I was too young to remember much of the second world war, and the area where I was born was relatively less impacted by its devastation than other parts of the country. What I know of it is more from direct testimony by other people and from the literature rather than from personal memories.

On the contrary, I have very clear memories of what came after. I grew up throughout my secondary and university education as well as my professional life in the post-war era. First it was the period of reconstruction and in the successive decades to our days, we have seen the prevailing of the market economy and of globalization.

In the last 60 years the world has witnessed the most dramatic expansion in terms of technological innovation and economic growth, as well as an upgrade in quality of life for several hundreds of millions of people. However, in those years, there has been a tremendous amount of imbalances building up in the human society.

We are living today in a world where a few hundred people control an amount of wealth that is higher than the GNP of several medium sized countries. At the same time in the world we have nearly 3 billion people (1/2 of the world population) living with less than 2 $ per day and more than 1 billion of those people live with less than 1 $ per day.

We tolerate that nearly 1 billion people suffer from hunger, starvation, and malnutrition and probably some 30 million people die every year directly or indirectly due to starvation and hunger, of which 6 million are children, and that in various parts of the world there are recurrent cases of genocides, deportations, descructive pandemics such as HIV or malaria, niches of slavery, human trafficking and finally, widespread abuse of women and children, even in rich countries.

As human beings, we should all be proud of our technological and economic achievements, but should also be very ashamed of the imbalances and tragedies that exist in the world.

I ask myself: am I guilty for these problems, is it my fault? Indeed the answer is no. It is true however that I carry my part of responsibility for not doing enough to correct those problems.

And I believe that the same feeling should be shared by at least the top 1 billion people in the economic ranking of the world population who enjoy a good quality of life and benefit from our technological and economic progress.

In my view, today humanity faces 3 major problems:

  • The excessive inequality in the distribution of wealth. This applies to the difference between rich countries and poor countries, as well as to the difference between the upper income class and the lower income class in the vast majority of the world’s countries (and unfortunately this inequality is growing).
  • The explosion of the world population. We are today 6.5 billion people. We were about 2 billion at the end of the First World War, and only about 1 billion at the beginning of the 19th century.
    In other words it took several thousands years for humanity to reach 1 billion in 1802, just 125 years to double to 2 billion in 1927, and as little as another 72 years to triple to 6 billion in 1999.
    The world (our planet and our social institutions) simply cannot absorb this huge growth of population; and there is a limit to how many people the eco-system can sustain.
  • The pollution of air, land, and water, and global warming.
    This phenomenon is largely the result of the economic development and the population explosion in absence of adequate control mechanisms.
    A major issue is the excessive exploitation of fossil fuels and the poor energy efficiency of the world economy.
    Millions of deaths, diseases, desertification, growing frequency and violence of extreme weather phenomena are all directly related to pollution and global warming and generate huge and growing human and economic disasters.

I believe that the above three problems are the root cause of all the major problems that humanity is confronted with, including wars, terrorism, genocides, and starvation for hundreds of millions of people.

Of those problems, the worst and most difficult to correct is the first one (the excessive inequality in the distribution of wealth) because it originates from the intrinsic egoistic nature of human beings. I am convinced that most of the political and economic laws and rules governing the world are de facto driven by the top 1% – by wealth – of the world population; and those laws and rules drive today the economic affairs in the world into growing inequality.

I believe that governments generally do not lead but follow their citizens.
Occasionally corporations will move towards social responsibility under illuminated leadership but, more frequently, under the pressure of employees, customers and the public opinion.

In the end, individuals are the real movers.

The only solution in the long term lies in widespread improvement of education and social awareness involving billions of people that will act both as individuals and as members of the institutions to which they belong (business enterprises, political or cultural organizations, public administrations, governments, etc) to move the world in the direction of more social solidarity.

In the present world scenario, children deserve the maximum attention: on one side to protect them as they are the most vulnerable human beings; on the other to educate them because they will be the future citizens of the planet and ultimately, the continuous cultural evolution of humanity to build a better world depends on them.

From these considerations was born the idea of the Pistorio Foundation.
Using the limited available financial resources and a lot of enthusiasm from a few family members and friends that are willing to donate some of their time and ideas, the Foundation will try to help in any form underprivileged children in any part of the world, for the very limited amount of people we can reach.

We also believe that, in order to help children, we must also help mothers to become more educated and financially independent. We also need to help in developing the social environment (family, school, village, …) in which the children grow up.

We are very well aware that no matter how successful our efforts will be, they will represent a drop in an ocean of needs. But we believe that any contribution is valuable for the few people we can materially assist, and we can help spread the social awareness with the many more people that we can reach intellectually.

Pasquale Pistorio
Aprile 2005