We say goodbye as if leaving for places unknown or for surgery. We do not know when we will meet again, whether we will all be here, unchanged. Groups dissolve, colleagues and students scatter, shops close, businesses and professions freeze.
The journey is inward – the country shuts down, we lock ourselves in homes that become work stations, schoolrooms, playgrounds, monks’ cells. Covid-19 has revealed how connected we all are.
From the first victim of the new coronavirus to the people next to us, we are all in a web of fear, suspicion and hope. We depend on networks that supply food, medicines and news. We place our hopes in our national health system and in therapies and vaccinations that will come about through international cooperation.
The virus also reveals our isolation: each on the brink of the unknown, tossed about by invisible, unavoidable forces. We do not know if the danger lurks in the person next to us or in ourselves. Potential killers and victims in the same room, powerless we await liberation or condemnation. Near others, we are threatened by the virus, alone we sink in loneliness.
We are political beings, our identity the sum of reflections from our interaction with friends, relatives and the rest of society. Suddenly we are living in an unfamiliar state, with fewer stimuli, our senses still racing, facing new insecurities at home, in relationships, in our work, in the world. Our horizons have closed in on us. Walks, journeys, plans and gatherings are out.
By nature suspicious (and quite often with good reason), we are called on to put our faith in the state, in the Church, in Parliament and politicians, in the press, in the judiciary, in the European Union, in international organizations. We must trust each other. At the same time, we don’t know what will happen with our work, whether we will be able to pay our bills. Will our country’s economy, its businesses, its self-employed survive?
This is a national battle but also a personal one. The economic crisis highlighted all the problems caused by our politics; it showed, though, that our society has reservoirs of patience and solidarity. Our sudden isolation gives us the chance to learn about ourselves, for each to find the patience, the fortitude, the love that is necessary to endure, to help others. So that we may gather again on the opposite bank, to get on with our lives.