Crash. Like an unexpected collision that leaves you breathless; from just a moment, our lives have been put on hold. Our whole world has stopped and seems to be falling apart. In the blink of an eye, we are in the midst of a global crisis of such magnitude that we could only imagine in science-fiction movies. Unfortunately, sometimes reality is stranger than fiction—another blow. Uncertainty and fear are a natural part of this state. While it is true that we cannot know the future, we have an answer to appease this uncertainty: now more than ever, we need to be united. Cooperation and solidarity are the cure for this pandemic.
Just like in the Paul Haggis film of the same name, we are all protagonists: we are connected in one way or another. The rapid spread of the virus among countries as far away as China, Spain, or the United States is a great example. But, in fact, a few months ago, when the virus hit East Asian countries, the economies of many countries resented the blockade in exports and tourism.
It is dizzying to appreciate how, in a globalized world, everything is extremely fragile. Everything is so interconnected. We have discovered the fact that we are closer together than we were initially aware of. Precisely for this reason, in our hands is the key to mitigate not only the number of infections, but also to help other people better cope with this situation and its consequences.
Every little action counts. In Spain, the virus began to spread dramatically in early March. In just three days, colleges and universities, bars, restaurants, and all shops except grocery stores and pharmacies were closed until the state of alarm and mandatory confinement were declared. From that moment on, each day at 8 p.m., people have come out to their balconies to applaud the professionals and volunteers working in health care. All walks of life come out to their balconies and clap and cheer together with their neighbors and with the rest of the city.
This moment is our moment of community. It serves as a symbol of unity that encourages us to continue fighting. Different ideas have flourished to help each other. Many of us have posted notes to shop for our neighbors who are most at risk if they get sick. Also, we try to write to our family and friends to find out how they are and comfort them. We send them digital flowers, songs, or poems—we even organize dates online—to cheer them up for a moment. We are trying to be as generous as we can.
One particular image comes to my mind: Erwin Blumenfeld’s Vogue cover of the March 1945 issue to support the Red Cross in World War II. Since then, we have not encountered any other event that challenged our world so dramatically as COVID-19. This virus does not understand ethnic groups, gender, sexual orientation, age, nationality, religions or political ideologies or socioeconomic status. We are all viable hosts. It is perhaps one of the most important lessons. In recent months, in response to the fear of the virus, behaviors and attitudes of rejection, stigma, and discrimination have emerged, which go against the only prescription that the health authorities and all world leaders have provided us: cooperation and solidarity.