Thoughts in Times of a Pandemic
Here I find myself thinking about what I have always said: human beings are fragile and things can and will change in a blink of an eye.
As if things were not complicated enough in our beaten-up world; the terrible and endless civil war in Syria, the provocative bravado of North Korea, the continuous fights and rants of Trump with allies and adversaries, Putin's permanent interference in everything, the arrogant separation of Great Britain from the European Union, the drama and pain of displaced persons and worldwide refugees, the climate change, the attacks to the democracies to undermine them, the hunger, the evident violations to human rights, the injustices..., suddenly, from nowhere, a "black swan" arrives. Something so unexpected and disconcerting, that it generates a great impact, unleashing important changes that mark history and entail effects that are felt like gigantic waves. Out of nowhere, a tiny virus appears that shakes and cracks the foundation of everything.
Everyone's wondering, how do we handle this, what do we do? No one can find the right answer. Everything is a novelty. No one is prepared. The improvisations begin. The sick rise up in numbers. The numbers of those infected and of deaths are reported quickly, but not at the same speed as the conspiracy theories and accusations.
The fact is, the only thing that is true, is that the virus appeared and so far I have been locked up, which seems to me to be an eternity. I'm in a quarantine that is "voluntarily enforced" to avoid getting infected and to prevent the virus from spreading. I learned to use a face mask, not to get close to anyone, not to touch anything, not to give hugs, not to see smiles, to read eyes better, to observe empty streets. I feel like I'm in an unknown world.
I feel that I’m living in a world that tends to disappear or that we never had. It's like having embarked on a journey that is aimless and from which I’ll never return. I observe everything with astonishment and disbelief; I try to understand and I don't understand. I don't recognize anyone no matter how hard I try, and frankly can't find my place anywhere. I feel that I don't fit in with anything and I don't agree with anyone. It seems that everything has been dyed a strange color, or perhaps not even that, since even the colors seem to have lost their pigmentation. I feel like humanity has gone to shit.
So I am forced to ask myself, what about that civilization so advanced in which we live, which is so evolved, so developed, so technological, so structured, so wise, and which suddenly, in an instant, finds itself naked and unprotected? My own question leaves me overwhelmed and perplexed. How wonderful... wanting to show that we were unbeatable, something invisible and as small as a virus, showed us our main weakness; ourselves. Some things were just not as they seemed to be!
This envelops us all, without exception, in a violent whirlwind that lifts us up and twists aimlessly, and that now lets us see, in all crudeness, that much of what was built was based on falsehoods.
The days pass and I perceive signs of kindness, dedication and solidarity, but at the same time this is overshadowed by enormous displays of selfishness, pettiness, anarchy and what stands out above the rest, ignorance. I came to understand that the universe was right, that order does not exist, that it was a passing and convenient invention, and that however much we wanted to twist its arm and try to disguise it, what reigns is chaos.
As the hours go by I feel totally imbalanced. I begin to see how this situation seems more like a fierce race to show who is the most astute social, political or religious leader and, as if being in a humongous social network, see who can get more "likes" and followers. With an obsessive partiality, without any kind of humility, it is more important to show that as a leader, the captain of the ship, he or a certain political system is able to successfully weather the storm better than others, and is the most organized, the most efficient and most capable of making and taking decisions. Unfortunately for many of us, around the world, this is not working out. The toll is to high.
Deep down what disturbs me most and I do not feel that I am exaggerating when I say that man himself, with his voracity, selfishness, lack of sensitivity; totally absent of empathy, ethics and solidarity has devastated everything.
It is remarkable how the seams of our civilization fray when, in the face of such important circumstances, as the present one, things are reduced to politics, ideologies, dogmas, personal, static and outdated positions. I see how many take advantage of this to spread stories that, although being dangerously toxic, are very useful to get new followers. We will see later on if these same followers, faced with a different and more effective discourse, make a turnaround and, as they always do, end up following another figure who is more illusionary than the previous one. We live in the starry age of the influencers.
Two words will probably raise eyebrows and twist the mouths of many: economy and food. Why do I emphasize this? Because these are special topics. Very few "leaders" want to talk about this sincerely because they don't really have the answers. In the midst of this there is a tremendous dilemma. Too many people have to decide every day whether to risk their lives getting infected with the virus by going out to earn money or to starve themselves and their families by staying at home. I am not going to get into the global issue of the economy, of how investments or stock markets can be affected; whether it is preferable to sacrifice the economy and avoid deaths from the pandemic. I will not discuss how food production or distribution should be approached, I do not intend to do so. I am not going to go into these issues in depth because it is something that I do not master, it is not something that I can talk about properly. In fact, for me 2 plus 2 can give me 3 and sometimes even 5! I think about these things because I am distressed about it and because the situation, which is under development, will deeply affect millions of people. It will radically affect food supplies and availability. The future of many people is at stake, will effect them and be as devastating as the pandemic, since it will spread over a longer period than the virus. I know that many, reading my thoughts, must be preparing themselves to argue vehemently about what I put forward; I have had quite a bit of experience with the left and the right every time their favorite subjects come up; all those “know it all” thinkers and visionaries.
There will be promoters of the "humanitarian revolution" who, by pounding their chests, must be saying now that all of this will be solved when the oppressive and exploitative political systems are destroyed and replaced by that of the universal equality they proclaim. On the contrary, the “liberal conservatives” will be ready to explain to us that nothing should be controlled, that things are controlled by themselves. I'm sick of all of these narratives! All these cleverly constructed stories were created for very specific purposes: to manipulate and only to continue creating illusions.
It is appropriate to clarify that my position on ideologies and dogmas is firm and strict: I do not defend anything or anyone. I do not put my hands in a fire for any narrative, all of those many that have been circulating for decades and of which perhaps many of us, and I dare point out the majority, have suffered in one way or another in their own flesh. Those notorious and so award-winning narratives that try tenaciously to convince us that a lie is an absolute truth and that everything else is a vile deception. I denounce, I have denounced and I will continue to denounce the permanent falsehoods which we’ve had to live with and which historically have proved to be psychological hooks used to try to mold and unsuccessfully transform human behavior while their skillful promoters are bathed in privileges for being the "great conductors" of those noble processes.
I have seen it in my own country which suffered systematic destruction. An absolute destruction of everything by the so-called "social revolution" imposed on it and by putting the so-called homeland way above the health, welfare, food supplies and the liberties of its citizens. In Venezuela nothing was left standing, nothing. They will say that I am liberal, neoliberal, pro-Yankee or paid by someone. I don't care. I have already received all the epithets that are usually used, but it turns out that I am not dogmatic, politically speaking. I join many voices that do not agree with what is happening in the world and I am opposed to any lie or manipulation that takes advantage of ignorance.
History shows that humanity, since its dawn, has been in phases of permanent and continuous change but it was not successful, as it should have been. Humans have been changing and over the ages understood how to feed themselves better, how to improve their health, how to communicate more effectively, how to organize themselves, but was not successful, as he should have been, to promote empathy, to understand and respect other human beings. Nevertheless I must admit that in this we have advanced, not much, but we did advance a little.
It cannot be hidden or disguised that there is still an absence of justice and that racial, religious and ethnic prejudices still persist. What has not changed, in essence, is in man’s desire to obtain power, prominence and to want others yield to their ideas or rulings; to make us believe that the only truth is what he says and to impose it as it were the only truth. What did not change either was using religion as a weapon. All of this can be attributed politically to the left or to the right or whatever they want to call any ideology or dogma that they use, since all of them, with apparently different arguments, do exactly the same thing. The reality is that the world probably won't change much, what is feasible is that we will see a change of names, of more charlatans, dangerous phonies who will say that they are capable of making changes that they will never make.
I am not surprised that now, the social networks, show themselves crammed with messages of love, of solidarity, of brotherhood, of recognizing God. People are afraid; like the one who, knowing he is dying, asks for forgiveness for his sins; for his apathy, for his indifference, for his dismissive attitude towards others, for his selfishness. Somehow you have to make sure, just in case, that you get a ticket to heaven, don't you? Fear is powerful.
Would it be necessary to update the Lord's Prayer, with God's permission, living in this reality? Perhaps today it could be like this:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Free us from hypocrisy and lies.
Deliver us from men who dress up as lambs, and are fierce wolves.
Lead us not into the temptation of corruption that harms and degrades the lives of others.
Grant us the strength to be useful and honest with our fellow brothers.
Let us clearly see our actions and judge them, to correct them with honesty.
Do not allow terror and malice to extinguish the flames of goodness and solidarity.
Eliminate the perjury and prejudice in which we live daily.
Deliver us from those people who use Your name in vain and who, while beating their chests, mistreat, steal, deceive and lie.
Grant us the privilege and opportunity of working with dignity to obtain our daily bread
Open our eyes so that we may understand that justice is the basis and foundation of human coexistence.
Give us the hope to believe that humanity has a destiny based on humility, love, brotherhood, prosperity, peace and free will.
Excerpts from my book “Fragments", which is currently underway.