Juan Manuel de Faramiñán Gilbert
MARCH 20, 2020
There are moments in history when turns occur that we could interpret as hinges that change the meaning of life. This pandemic, generated by the Covid-19 virus (Corona Virus), which has spread throughout the planet, will surely generate a radical change in our future habits. It would be a serious mistake not to become aware of the need to evaluate our future behaviour by extracting a teaching from this painful experience.
The dystopia seems to have been incarnated in our daily reality and the film “Contagion”, by Steven Soderbergh, released in 2011 and starring Matt Damon, relates, from fiction, the same reality that we are living today. It’s strange that this film is based on a story published in 1981 by Dean Koontz. “The Eyes of Darkness” tells the story of an extremely deadly virus that emerges in a laboratory as a “powerful biological weapon” in the city of Wuhan, which is called “Wuhan-400”. It is curious that the Corona Virus has emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, and has spread its contagion, in many cases lethal, throughout the planet.
I would like to comment firstly that we are realising that the borders between States, on which so much blood has been spilt in defence of sterile nationalism, are now being violated by an invisible agent such as this virus. This has shown us that those borders do not exist and that the pandemic is spreading without geographical, cultural or social considerations. We are all vulnerable without exception. On those same borders we have discriminated human beings who, fleeing poverty, hunger and wars, have not been allowed to enter a fortress Europe, considering ourselves superior to everyone else. This virus has shown us that we should have been more humane. Now it is we who are being persecuted by an invisible force that is confining us and killing us.
Secondly, with the same arrogance with which we act looking the other way in the face of the pain of others, we have not had the least consideration in deteriorating the planet on which we live. We have polluted it, we have submerged it in plastics and rubbish, we have depleted its natural assets, we have burned the forests and we have laughed at climate change. This virus has shown us once again that the laws of nature are not to be played with and that every bad action has an equally bad reaction in the opposite direction. For a virus that was probably born in some laboratory or through the recklessness of some human being, as a result of seeking food from living beings that we ourselves have contaminated, is spreading across all continents, wreaking havoc on the most vulnerable human beings.
Thirdly, this pandemic is teaching us that everyone without exception should generate an individual and collective responsibility that reminds us that the good of the other is also our own good, that what we have always possessed can vanish in the blink of an eye. This confinement, to which we have all submitted to avoid contagion, is making us open our eyes and understand the importance of the fraternal embrace. This isolation is therapeutic for learning to know ourselves in solitude and introspection. Also to value our environment, our family, our friends, our loved ones.
What conclusions can we draw from the distress of this pandemic?
Firstly, that when the pandemic will be over we will no longer be the same, that our behaviour will have changed and that if we do not do so we will have made another unforgivable mistake. The pain has to be a vehicle of conscience to realize that “we are all one” and that the pain of the other is also our pain. I cannot imagine what the world will be like after this pandemic, but I wish it were better and that we have all learned not to stand on borders that are really a geographical fiction and that we have seen fading away with an invisible enemy.
Secondly, we will need to learn to care for and respect the planet we live on by thinking that, lying on its planetary crust, we revolve around the Sun, but that, in the everyday life during which our existence evolves, we are losing the notion that we are living on a celestial body that revolves according to the laws of the universe. This forgetfulness has been very harmful because it has made us not only despise the health of the planet Earth, but also now, in the excessive ambition of dominating the natural resources, we are looking avidly at the other planets of the solar system and the asteroids. There seems to be no limit to our greed. We must realize that all this nonsense is paid for, that all these mistakes have a price that unfortunately, today, we are paying with human lives.
How long will we still need to learn that “the laws of the universe are not to be played with“?
Thirdly, locked up in our homes, which is what we must do to avoid the spread of a virus that has an incredible speed of contagion such as Covid-19, we have noticed many things that we have lost, including human contact. There is nothing more didactic than losing something to value its lack and to realize that we have lived without realizing what we had. In the face of this pandemic we are obliged to communicate by virtual means and our embraces are also virtual, so we have once again missed the carnal embrace. When all this is over we should develop more fraternal ties and broaden our concepts of otherness, since no one can be completed in seclusion, for we all need everyone in a collective world that rests on the global village. The materialistic and consumerist society that we have developed has forgotten the individuals and we relate to each other in economic terms and so it has gone and goes: the virus does not respect anyone and does not discriminate on the basis of social status or cultural or economic condition, everyone falls without commiseration under its yoke. In the future we are going to have to “develop a consciousness of co-responsibility” that allows us to work side by side, otherwise other even more lethal viruses are likely to return. The pain that this pandemic has produced should make us react.
These days, the work “The Plague” by Albert Camus, which was published in 1947, has once again been cited in numerous interventions and is becoming a redeeming metaphor that reminds us that an epidemic makes us reflect on ourselves, on our moral values and, especially, on time. Camus tells us: “Only one thing had changed for them: the time, which during their months of exile they would have wanted to push to hasten, which they were really fierce in precipitating; now, that they were close to our city, they wanted it to be slower, they wanted to have it suspended…”
In conclusion, this confinement in our homes, necessary and appropriate, is offering us another dimension and understanding of that which we call “time”. Minute by minute we will be able to understand in our introspection the value of our hours and the importance of traveling together with the rest of human beings in the suggestive and interesting experience of this “journey of life” that we make with the rest of humanity, because as the wise men from the East remind us: “you, the Westerners, have the clocks, we, on the other hand, have the time“.