Reports and Opinions

WE SHALL OVERCOME (But only if we stick together)

Opinion by Caterina Rossi

Over the last year, the world has gone through some drastic changes that transformed our existence forever.

We have been deprived of our freedom, our human rights, and our serenity. The fault lies in a virus that infiltrated our lives, and in less than two months had humanity on its knees.

The memory of how terrified I felt when WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic will never leave me. I was not personally afraid of contracting the virus; I was scared of the general impact of a shocking situation that I never expected to experience.

But at the same, the courageous and heartwarming way most people decided to face this exact situation deeply touched me.  As someone from Italy, I witnessed my compatriots singing the country anthem from their terrace. I remember the last time I was on a train before the lockdown began, and I saw banners on the balconies of my fellow citizens with quotes such as “It will get better” or “We shall overcome”.

I remember the videos of doctors crying after hours spent working restlessly to save people’s lives. Sometimes they succeeded, sometimes they failed. I remember the gratitude and admiration the world showed towards them. They were our heroes.

What happened? What is going on during the second wave of this terrifying pandemic?

A few weeks ago in Italy, a group of citizens invaded the parking lot of a hospital and vandalised the cars of doctors, nurses and health workers.

A few days later, two women entered the waiting room of a hospital in Milan. They claimed they were in the emergency room and recorded a video of the empty space as proof that Covid does not exist, and the government is paying doctors to keep us in fear and destroy our economy.

I saw one of the doctors of that hospital talking about this event in a video. She tried to tell the journalists what had happened but eventually started crying and did not manage to finish. “We are working so hard to keep our patients alive and what do we get in return? People blaming us of the most horrible things”. Such words hurt.

And what about the protests we see across Europe?

Desperate people do desperate things.

And these protesters are desperate. Some of them had to close their activities a second time without knowing when they would open it again; Some of them lost their jobs.

But no matter how desperate we are, there is a line that is too dangerous to cross.

What is the purpose behind attacking cops, throwing scooters against their cars and destroying and sacking shops? What type of grief make these things legitimate?

Where is the love, the solidarity, the compassion exhibited during the first wave of the pandemic?

It seems to me that anger and frustration have replaced those feelings. Some people do not even acknowledge that Covid is real. It is better to believe that this is all a big, cruel lie invented by the government to control us. After all, it is easier to fight against the government. It is easier to have such a tangible enemy rather than something obscure and incurable like an unknown virus.

On the other hand, several people decided to protest peacefully, respecting the rules. And I appreciate that. I do not mean to condemn them; I feel their pain. Their frustration is understandable. It is painful and challenging to endure another lockdown. They are opposing something that might lead them to lose everything they have.

But, as flawed as they might be, these measures have been decided to save our lives. And the more we resist them, the more the situation could aggravate. They might inadvertently be encouraging the same measures they are attempting to fight.  These protests are a way to voice their dissatisfaction, but they are not the solution to our problems. It is unlikely we might obtain something beneficial out of this.

These protests are also a way for some people to take advantage of a miserable situation and make them feel legitimated to do something they could not do in peaceful circumstances: be criminals

They take advantage of people’s grief and anger to give vent to their inner violence. Evil men find their chance to shine in dark times.

And we are living in dark times; the world is on the verge of unravelling. It is highly dangerous to indulge in rage and hatred, one step too far, and we’ll plunge in chaos.

“We shall overcome.”

We certainly will, but only if we stick together.

Let this dreadful experience teach us something good.

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