“Go Wuhan!” the residents of the city from which the Covid-19 pandemic had begun shouted from their windows. From Italy we watched the video with astonishment, sometimes with indifference, much more often with unbelief. After all, China was so far away and the new year had just begun.
“Napule è” the Neapolitans in quarantine sing, in these days of March, each from his apartment, and the whole country joins in the choir with sad emotion. China wasn’t so far off after all.
If we were trivializing the Future with one sentence, we could say that nothing will ever be the same again as before the coronavirus. If we were looking for an explanation outside of pandemic logic, we might admit, despite ourselves, that Nature wanted to punish us, to teach us a hard lesson. A brutal break from our daily habits to detoxify humanity from the baseness in which it’s plunged, to save it from vices and frivolity, to rid it of social hatred, to rescue it from evil, to emancipate it from the cruelty that we are inflicting on living beings and the environment; to purify it from everything that has untethered it from its fundamental nature. A brutal reset so that we can rediscover the meaning of life, to reconnect in our relationships, making up for the time we’ve lost, and all those fundamental values that shaped our grandparents and that the new generations cannot even imagine.
Perhaps the pandemic we’re experiencing isn’t our defeat. Perhaps this harsh test to which we have been called, came to restore the order, to give us back our existential priorities and all that we abandoned in the mad race of the Modern Era. Perhaps it came to show us “the way”.
We’re experiencing separation
Covid-19 is teaching us that we are globally connected, that there are no boundaries between us and others, and the pain of one is the pain of all. We’re experiencing the loneliness of distance, the forced removal from our affections and, above all, we are learning that we aren’t the masters of the Planet but we are only its guests, and that what we are given is only on loan.
We’re experiencing insecurity
The pandemic is making us aware that nothing lasts forever: joy as well as pain, poverty as well as wealth, health as well as sickness. We’re realizing that everything can change at any time without asking our permission. A brilliant career, a successful project, a profitable business, even a simple gesture like enjoying an ice cream walking in a park can disappear in a heartbeat.
We’re experiencing loss
Coronavirus has brought out all our fragilities and weaknesses. We find ourselves faced with the fear of starvation and with having no more water to quench our thirst; but we are also meting out our use of everyday items that we have taken for granted until a few weeks ago: milk, flour and yeast, even soap and shampoo. All our priorities have suddenly changed. After decades of unbridled waste and compulsive consumerism that have swamped and polluted the landfills of the Earth, we’re getting to know privation.
We’re experiencing the prayer
Not in supplication to some god, but the awareness that love and compassion can work miracles, and a smile is worth more than a formal handshake. We’re rediscovering faith in tomorrow and in that ‘after’ that will come. If it will come…
We’re rediscovering the blueness of the sky, the beauty of a tree in bloom, the importance of having our elderly by our side, or the bitterness of not being able to caress them, comfort them, protect them. We’re understanding that going to work is a privilege and not a condemnation, and coming home and finding someone waiting for us is definitely lucky.
The quarantine we’re experiencing is forcing us to look at ourselves again, to seek within us the answers that, up to today, we have entrusted to the ether, to the web community, to the nothingness of the network. Parents and children have gone back to eating together, to talking about dreams that previously would have been buried by the race against time or some silly amusement, to watching a movie together. And if on the one hand the anguish of our denied freedom is making us suspicious, racist and vile against each other, on the other hand we’re back to mutual tolerance, because there is no escape hatch from the situation, a lover in whose arms to take refuge or a friend to distract us from family boredom. We have no other options.
We’re experiencing imagination
Creativity, dormant for years, has returned to the fore. The wish to travel through a book that was abandoned in favor of electronic devices, the desire to talk about sensations through the colors of a painting never drawn, the pleasure of making your own bread filling the house with an ancient and comforting aroma, the impetus to reread masterpieces by Manzoni and Boccaccio and to discover interesting similarities between them.
Finally, we’re experiencing that we are all equal when facing desolation, that there is something higher than us that erases differences in race, religion, social class and that doesn’t spare anyone. That the hope of the survival of our species is not to be found in the construction of the Major Powers of our era or circumscribed by International Treaties that any virus can wipe out in a few weeks, but revisited in a true individual awareness and in a real assumption of civil and collective responsibility, and in the commitment of every human being to the global and harmonious union of peoples on this, our transitory passage on Earth.