“The virus, the Coronavirus will not disappear ‘tomorrow morning’”, the poet, writer and documentary filmmakerFranco Arminio says. “So today we are called to deal with a double emergency: a health crisis but also a social crisis. Because when hypochondria and panic spread to the social entity, it is devastating.
So how can we curb this fear? Arminio has written a guideline in ten steps against fear which can help us to think about how to deal with a difficult moment but especially to reconnect with ourselves and our fragility. From “reading a book rather than going to the shopping centre” to “life is dangerous and will always be dangerous, we could all die for one reason or another in the next ten minutes, there is no chance of not dying”, ten steps, ten rules to keep in mind and to put into practice to help us self-help.
“This traumatic time”, the poet explains, “has revealed our collective fragility. After the end of the last world war, Italy has never had to face a fear this big. Not even terrorism has dented the social entity of the country”. But what is happening now? “The Coronavirus is an illness that in some way has brought us closer to death, to the thought of death. A thought that during the last decades - immersed as we were in capitalistic outlooks - we had removed. But we were mortal even before the Coronavirus, only we wouldn’t think about it.”
During this delicate phase it’s ever more important to follow directions, first and foremost the one relating to staying home. “But”, Arminio continues, “the average Italian doesn’t know how to do this, they can’t.
It’s incredible how such a minimal sacrifice is seen as dramatic. Today we have homes with heating, food, internet connections. It is an emergency, but it is a “comfortable” emergency. When this moment comes to a close, there will be two scenarios: we will either have learnt nothing from this experience or we will be able to learn an important lesson, that to live well we need to erase the capitalism that we are addicted to in order to create a new, different kind of capitalism. A plural capitalism. Building a world in which kindness, love, friendship and even death have the same value and dignity as “being productive”. How many things have we sacrificed in the fury of the work model we have created?”.
We can build a world in which kindness, love, friendship and even death have the same value and the same dignity as “being productive”.
We should therefore overturn the “#milanononsiferma” (Milan never stops) hashtags the Milan Municipality has launched a few days ago into “#milanosidevefermare” (Milan needs to stop). “Milan, like the rest of Italy, mus stop and how,” Arminio continues. “Nothing will happen if we stop for a while, it’s for our health. And we can deal with the real topic of the moment: our fear of death. Nobody uses the word death as a singular. We only hear about the “number of dead”. But it actually helps to remember how we only have one time: only this way can we position ourselves within the world”.
The ten guidelines
1. Passions, both intimate and civil, strengthen our immune systems. Being enthusiastic for someone or something defends us from many illnesses.
2. Read a book rather than going to the shopping centre.
3. Make love instead of going to the pizzeria.
4. Walk in the countryside or in almost empty towns.
5. Understand that we are immersed in the universe and we could not live without plants, while plants would continue to live without us. Being away from crowded places for some time can be a chance to rediscover our relationship with nature, starting from the one within us.
6. Travel nearby. Tourism is a greater plague than the coronavirus. Polluting our planet with flights simply because we don’t know how to sit still is absurd.
7. Consider that commercial life is not the only possible life, there is a lyrical life as well. The economic crisis is serious, but a lot less so than a theological crisis: losing a company is less serious than losing the sense of sacred.
8. Life is dangerous, it will always be dangerous, everyone of us can die for any reason in the next ten minutes, there is not chance we won’t die.
9. Wash your hands very often, keep informed but don’t go overboard. Be aware that our hunger for fear attracts those who sell it to us. Our consumption vocation makes us consumers of fear. The risk is to transform panic in a form of entertainment.
10. Be quiet from time to time, watching more than speaking. Be aware that the cure comes more from the shape we give our life, than from medicines. To escape from the dictatorship of the times and their evils, we need to be careful, quick and light, accurate and plural.