Dear all,

Times have not been easy for anybody. Times won’t be easy for a long time. Meanwhile I’ve been questioning a lot of what has actually been going on, to the point of ethics, no less, the flow of solidarity or the apparent lack thereof. Countries helping, countries denying help. Nothing is black and white of course, but in a situation such as this it’s easy to boil everything, everyone, down to a friend or a foe.

I’ve been questioning our society immensely, I’ve been questioning my previously beloved EU and I’ve been questioning my own beliefs. To me (I want to stress here that you absolutely do not have to agree with me on anything, this is just my opinion and I don’t mean to start any discussion) our current economic system seems to be unable to deal with crises like these in an appropriate way. Trying to sell masks at a higher price, outsourcing produce (for purposes of being cheap) and coming to the conclusion that you now have no stock yourself when you’re in dire need, and last, but certainly not least, placing economy in a more important position than the lives of people.

This is where ethics come into play. As was mentioned in the German newspaper Die Zeit: choosing economy over the lives of people is neo liberalist euthanasia, and simply unethical. In other words, not trying to put an entire stop to the spread of a virus is unethical, because you will (even if you’re now still in denial) sacrifice people… you will. Which suddenly makes currency more important than a human being’s life. To me (and again, you’re free to disagree) any life, even one, is more important than the economy, is more important than desperately wanting to prevent an inevitable recession. Also if it means being in lockdown for an entire year. When you have no treatment and no vaccination, it seems wrong to take such risks.

The last disappointing news we received, was that the EU is bickering about whether or not to change rules concerning countries’ debts after the Coronacrisis. Changing rules to deal with countries’ debts in a less severe way could mean that some countries manage to survive, it would also mean that everybody in Europe would need to take a step back though (from an economical point of view). Not doing that, however, could bankrupt countries, such as Italy, that have been fighting the hardest battle (and are actually one of the biggest financial contributors to the EU). When there is even a discussion about something like this, it seems to me that apparently some union members believe that it’s a country’s own fault to get heavily infected by this virus. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Hopefully I’m wrong here (and they’re not being ridiculous) and the union members who believe that a recession caused by a virus is the same as a recession caused by banks, actually have a very good reason to think in such a way (although I can sympathise with the idea of viewing banks as viruses).
I will again refer to the German newspaper Die Zeit that said: a union that doesn’t support its members during a crisis, is not worthy of the name union.

Living in a different country really does give you a different perspective on things. But, just like anybody else, I might not have all the information or interpret information incorrectly, and just like anybody else I should also try not to judge other measures and other ways of thinking too harshly. Unfortunately, as you might be able to understand, this is not always easy and sometimes even extremely hard.
However, compassion, understanding and solidarity is all we have these days and I would like to end with that.

From Italy with love,

Merel