Up until a few days ago, it was a chore that had to be done. Now, my dog’s morning walk is a gift, an opportunity to go outside, despite the chill in the air. Just the other day, I continued our walk even after we had completed our usual circuit yesterday, skipping the turn into the entrance of my apartment building. Apart from the rather eerie sound of the wind, all I could hear was a persistent thumping. It was coming from a construction site, where it was business as usual until Wednesday. I thought to myself that the workers must have taken public transportation to get here, putting themselves and others at risk. On the other hand, that thump was like a heartbeat, evidence that the neighborhood was still alive.
We eventually returned home because the dog was tired – an oddity in itself. But this is what the virus is doing: distorting what we know and feel. To protect those we love, we need to stay away from them. To survive as a society, we need to let go, cut our ties and raise walls – unheard-of defenses. Places that were symbols of optimism just a few days ago are almost radioactive today: school yards, neighborhood basketball courts, playgrounds. It’s irrational, hard to wrap your head around. You have negative thoughts when you hear kids laughing or see teenagers hanging out in groups. It’s like a family film suddenly turning into a horror movie.
We need to use our brain and our heart in equal measure; to behave responsibly for the sake of the person beside us, for the whole, and not for ourselves. “Being responsible means acting as though you already have the virus and are afraid of passing it on,” said the government’s special epidemiology adviser, Sotiris Tsiodras, describing the real definition of solidarity.
Today, as on previous days, we journalists are writing from home. Every newspaper we bring out is a small feat, but we all know that we can do it, that we have to do it. Working from home or suspending the operation of services and businesses are not only ways of containing the spread of the virus; they are also courageous efforts to save strength. When a society is like an organism that needs to go above and beyond in order to ensure that the battle is not lost at the country’s hospitals, every other function needs to go into sleep mode. We are part of something much bigger than us, of a whole.