Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

We must not forget what we’ve learned

COMMENT

TAGS: Coronavirus

Covid-19 has changed }our lives for good. No one can say with certainty when the crisis will be over, when we’ll finally be out of the woods. That moment is certainly still far away for the elderly and other high-risk individuals. However, the fear, if not the panic, that has gripped the great majority of society will linger for a long time. The risk of a second wave remains high. 

The world is at a loss. There is no such thing as clear world leadership or coordination; what there is is an environment that is dominated by mistrust and crude competition. Meanwhile a debate is shaping up about what will change in the wake of the pandemic. The lockdown has inevitably led to a certain reflection on life and the revaluation of fundamental values. People are talking about resetting their priorities in life. They have rediscovered the warmth of the family table that had been missing from Greek homes. Others ditched the habit of eating out and having food delivered and have been enjoying home cooking. Many people have got into walking and exploring green areas sometimes very close to home that they were not previously acquainted with.

Still, all that only concerns a part of society which may be anxious about the future but does not face the threat of dismissal or immediate bankruptcy. Because it’s one thing to experience the lockdown knowing that there is a basic safety net and a comfortable home and it’s quite another experiencing it crammed into a small living space with no clue about what tomorrow will bring.

The pandemic has brought out the best in us, without class or other divisions. It has generated an outpouring of solidarity, kindness and selfless giving. For some of us, however, the situation also created more stress and tension. Division lurks. The day after will be extremely difficult as it will unfold in an environment of global recession, if not financial crisis.

We need to be careful or we will lapse into infighting. Many people believe that Western societies will change, that governments will seek to curb excessive tourism, unfettered ambition and the relentless drive for profit. They also believe that many habits will change. Already everyone seems to admit that the state is the only agent that can deal with phenomena like the pandemic, in cooperation of course with the private sector. We – as individuals, as societies, as economies – all felt very small and vulnerable in the face of the insidious and unexpected enemy.

At some point, the panic will subside. Man tends to forget fast and return to the cynicism and habits of the past without even realizing. We’ve seen it many times in history, with disastrous results. These past few crucial and painful weeks are a lesson that must not be forgotten.

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