- This is our moment of introspection. We need to ask ourselves how we shall deal with the pandemics in our country. The pandemics of joblessness, hunger, homelessness, disease, corruption, nepotism, tribalism, and mismanagement of resources.
Writing in the New York Times last week, Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church and the Bishop of Rome said; "In this past year of change, my mind and heart have overflowed with people. People I think of and pray for, and sometimes cry with, people with names and faces, people who died without saying goodbye to those they loved, families in difficulty, even going hungry, because there is no work.
Sometimes, when you think globally, you can be paralysed: There are so many places of apparently ceaseless conflict; there is so much suffering and need.
I find it helps to focus on concrete situations: You see faces looking for life and love in the reality of each person, of each people. You see hope written in the story of every nation, glorious because it is a story of daily struggle, of lives broken in self-sacrifice. So rather than overwhelm you, it invites you to ponder and to respond with hope.
These are moments in life that can be ripe for change and conversion. Each of us has had our own "stoppage", or if we haven't yet, we will someday: illness, failure of a marriage or a business, some great disappointment or betrayal. As in the Covid-19 lockdown, those moments generate a tension, a crisis that reveals what is in our hearts".
I am reminded of my own "stoppage" when I had a life-threatening motorcycle accident six years ago. Realising that I was very lucky to have escaped alive, I started introspecting and looking for purpose and meaning in my life.
During my recuperation it occurred to me that other people were not so lucky, and I decided to focus attention away from myself. It was then that I discovered my talent in writing, and I can confidently state that the last six years have been the best years of my life, serving other people and touching them in a special way. But it had to take a crisis for me to discover myself and my purpose.
In every personal "stoppage", what is revealed is what needs to change: our lack of internal freedom, the idols we have been serving, the ideologies we have tried to live by, the relationships we have neglected.
The Covid-19 crisis is special in that it affects all of mankind and is now visible throughout the world. By now we all know someone, a close friend, a relative, a family member, who has been affected by the virus. President Trump, Boris Johnson, Valentino Rossi and this week, Lewis Hamilton have all been infected with the virus.
There are a thousand other crises that are just as dire but, are just far away enough for most of us to behave as if they don't exist. There are wars scattered all over the world, production, and trade in weapons to perpetuate those very wars, thousands of refugees fleeing poverty, hunger and lack of opportunity, climate change, the list is endless.
These tragedies may be distant from us but, like Covid-19 they affect the whole of humanity. Covid-19 is a demon we can't see but, we put on masks to protect ourselves and others. This is our moment of introspection. We need to ask ourselves how we shall deal with the pandemics in our country. The pandemics of joblessness, hunger, homelessness, disease, corruption, nepotism, tribalism, and mismanagement of resources.
There is a line in Friedrich Holderlin's "Patmos" which says, "Where the danger is, also grows the saving power". That is the genius in the human story; there is always a way to escape destruction. Where humankind has to act is precisely there, in the threat itself; that is where the door opens.
This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities; what we want, what we value, what we seek, and to commit to act in our daily lives on what we have dreamed on. We cannot return to the false securities of the political and economic systems we had before the crisis.
We need economies that give to all, access to resources and the basic needs of life. We need a politics that can integrate and dialogue with the poor, the excluded and the vulnerable; that gives people a say in the decisions which affect their lives.
The virus has exposed the paradox that while we are more connected, we are also more divided. I recall Joe Biden recently telling the American people, "We are fighting a virus, not each other".
Our fears are exacerbated and exploited by a certain kind of populist politics that seeks power over society. We need to build a culture of encounter in which we meet as people of a shared dignity.
Covid-19 has shown us that no one is saved alone and that as a people we have a shared destiny, and we are tied together by solidarity.
Solidarity is the call to embrace the reality that we are bound by bonds of reciprocity. As we see this pandemic through, let us dream and build a better, different, human future.