We are in a society where there are more and more single-parent households or people living alone. On the other hand, the work rhythms and the lifestyle of the West lead us to rush, to have no time for practically anything, and we even plan our holidays looking for places to go.
In this sense, our life style is quitting us for having real connections with people, running away from personal encounter or less gratification familiar time, without even stopping to talk slowly with our family neither making deep reflections about what is happening to us or to our surrounding. And suddenly, we stay at home under an obliged cohabitation: parents who did not see their children that often, are now living together, seeing each other all the time, agreeing for the use of the computer, the tv programs and so on. Marriages which made almost separate lives, now they live together all day. This stop has forced us to find our own selves. It is a moment for real listening. It is a time that we can and must take advantage of to listen to ourselves, to God and to those around us. In doing so, our interior life will be reinforced as well as family life in most of the cases. We have to take on account that, after the confinement, divorces raised in Wuhan; that is why we have to pay attention and to be ready to heal wounds.
This confinement brings us closer, we maintain more frequent contact with family and friends, we ask about health, about different situations and solidarity among the neighborhood has even increased. We want to be useful.
Similarly, society is discovering or promoting values that are not very widespread. Social responsibility for many people is a new value and it is being practiced intensely. Solidarity, empathy, care... brings out the best in people.
Without intending to, the environment has also benefited from this crisis. CO2 emissions have drastically diminished, the air in many Chinese cities has become healthy, fishes are returning to the waters of Venice, we see dolphins from our coasts, various mammals are going over the streets and even birds are approaching with confidence.
Could we conclude that this pandemic is good? It would be superficial to say yes, because there are many people harmed because of it. Firstly, we think about those who have died in solitude and those who have passed on the disease, also in solitude, in hospitals. There are hundreds of thousands of people in Spain who lost their jobs. Many companies have closed or it will close. Those who live in the poorest neighborhoods have had to turn to Caritas and other institutions for help in eating. Migrant people in an irregular situation are more hopeless than ever… and so we could enumerate an infinite number of situations. We do not even know when we will be allowed to move freely without risk of falling ill and this situation creates anxiety.
But there are also some signs of hope.
The world before the pandemic doesn't seem to be coming back. There are voices that tell us some paths to follow.
As expressed in words of the Pope Francis: “We have not woken up to the wars and injustices of the world, we have not heard the cry of the poor and of our seriously ill planet. We have continued to be unperturbed, thinking about staying healthy in a sick world”. That is why, the first lesson we have learnt from this pandemic is living with humility. Our world has not solutions for everything. The technique was the golden calf that we worshipped and we realized that it was a false god. We spent huge amounts of money to defend us from potential attacks and we didn’t pay attention to health care which was actually our best defensive weapon. That is why we must to strengthen global health care, because this pandemic -and those which they will come- has to be defended with a global health system. This system could help to detect a virus and to stop it before it spreads in any country.
In this point there is a growing desire to stop investing in weapons and to invest in health care. It is time to be concerned and to insist on combating inequalities at the national and global levels because that is the main fight we must win. We will learn something of this pandemic if we invest the money of the armament budget on ending inequalities, reinforcing the health system and education. Let us not look for imaginary enemies, let us fight ignorance and health deficiencies and let us start laying the foundations towards a more equal world.
The strong solidarity that has awakened during these days is something we must to cultivate so that it becomes even greater. Practicing altruism is satisfying, as Pope Benedict XVI said: “Charity in truth places man before the astonishing experience of gift. Gratuitousness is present in our lives in many different forms, which often go unrecognized because of a purely consumerist and utilitarian view of life. The human being is made for gift, which expresses and makes present his transcendent dimension.” (CV34).
This pandemic has made us see more clearly that everything is related, it is impossible to live apart from what is happening in any part of the world: “These ancient stories (he refers to Gn 6,5), full of symbolism, bear witness to a conviction which we today share, that everything is interconnected, and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others” (LS 70).