"To my generation, or rather the Millennial generation, the current situation is undoubtedly an unprecedented one." From one moment to another, writes sociology student Emil Kruse from Copenhagen, our leaders started appearing on our smartphones or laptop screens telling us that a virus is sweeping through our countries.
In my home country Denmark, although not to the same extent as the Trumpian version in the US, the prime minister delivered a calming speech, reminding us of our strong health services in case of emergency situations. And now, when we are facing what a week ago was unimaginable, the questions are manifold, but as a sociologist, some are more interesting than others.
In this particular case, I think of how it can reveal new insights in regard to our social relationships to other individuals, not only nationally speaking, but on a wider global scale. It raises questions such as how we are to stand together in times where borders are closing down and our politicians urge us to get back as soon as possible. To be honest, I’m not quite sure, but I think that we, in the course of time, will look back on this period, and once again ask ourselves why other European countries hesitated to provide the Italian hospital system with sufficient equipment to mitigate the situation.
'I think when we will look back on this period, we will ask ourselves why other European countries hesitated to provide the Italian hospital system with sufficient equipment to mitigate the situation'
I am not a politician, but instead a European citizen speaking from my heart, and it hurts to follow the Italian news where hospitals are overwhelmed with sick people, meaning that doctors and nurses are working at full throttle; facing what is articulated as an ‘impossible mission’.
Historically speaking, mankind has overcome many periods resembling the one we are facing now: think only about the black death, the influenza pandemic after World War I, or in most recent times, SARS. But in what is now denoted as ‘late modernity’, our societal conditions have radically changed from previous times, and we are now living in a period of time, where the social formation of life is permeated by an escalatory logic, entailing that most of us do not get to contemplate sufficiently upon how our actions, symbolically, reflect the world in which we want to live.
Emil Kruse's view out of his window
Unsurprisingly, the Coronavirus is sending shockwaves through our societies, not only because of how the Coronavirus puts weak and elderly people at risk, meaning that we need to follow the advice articulated by our authorities, but also because some people more than others, are left to themselves in what rapidly evolves into a state of solitude.
One thing which is for sure, is that solitude can be grasped in various ways, but most frequently it has a negative connotation. However, I believe that despite the severe situation, where the majority of people perceive the world as standing still (e.g. what happened to my weekend trip in Berlin/Madrid/Paris/London etc.? Nothing, really nothing, except that you’ll have to sit down on your chair or couch staring out in the air), all the while you’ll have a moment to reflect upon what you do to others, and perhaps most urgently, the climate.
'This is an encouragement to think about how we as global citizens can alter the agenda of the politicians who keep on sweeping our most urgent issues under the carpet'
This is not yet another manifesto claiming to heal you of your sorrows, or optimising your body, intelligence, self, call it whatever you want to. Rather, it is an encouragement to think about how we as global citizens can alter the agenda of the politicians who keep on sweeping our most urgent issues under the carpet.
I think that #SpreadtheStoriesnottheVirus is a good place to start. It gives all kinds of citizens a chance to share their stories without going for immediate recognition as on other social media; you'll have to read and understand without destroying your thumb due to the perpetual scrolling!