NEW CORONA VIRUS: THE TRANSITION FROM FEAR TO SOLIDARITY IS DIFFICULT, BUT NECESSARY
Three months have passed since the strict measures against the COVID-19 pandemic were first implemented in our country. These measures, proposed by the appropriate health authorities and legislated by the government, were systematically adhered to by the public. This was a pleasant surprise, because as a nation, we are not characterised by obedience and compliance to the laws. This has made us reflect on the reasons why the implementation of these measures was so successful and why this time the Greek citizens listened to the competent health authorities and the government. Most people concluded that the success is due to two reasons: a) the decisive action of the government at a very early stage in the outbreak of COVID-19 and, most importantly, b) the fear of getting sick and the strong desire for the continuation of life.
We are wondering if this fear and the adherence to the safety measures will also continue beyond the first trimester since the outbreak. We are worried that as the spreading of COVID-19 diminishes, the fear of the citizens will also diminish, and they might undertake activities harmful to their own health and the health of others. People might now just want to satisfy some strong desires that they have put aside during the past three months. We hope that these desires will not prove to be more powerful than the sense of reason and self-preservation. If all of a sudden we have a lot of people who no longer care about health safety measures, then we might end up with the reversal of the present positive situation and fall back to the situation we had in March, with detrimental effects. We might even have to re-implement strict emergency measures again.
One way to deal with citizens who are falling back to lax behaviour and are not being careful about maintaining high standards of safety, is to remind them of the data, facts and situations from the early stage of the pandemic, which had instilled fear in them and made them comply. This way of helping resolve the problem of falling back offers us only a temporary means of controlling the situation; however, if we really want to achieve solid and permanent results, we will need to undertake a long and difficult journey. What we will really need to do is to develop a sentiment of social solidarity. The difference between a) remembering the fear at the beginning of the pandemic and b) building social solidarity, is qualitative, with the second one being much superior to the first. Bringing back the fear and implementing strict measures might eventually turn the fear into a phobia and create psychological problems. On the other hand, considering cooperation as a social obligation and developing a sentiment of societal solidarity towards our fellow citizens is a more difficult route to take, which does not lead to phobias or have any negative side effects. The difficulty in adopting social solidarity lies in the fact that in order to achieve that, we first have to put our personal interests aside and instead focus on our obligation to protect our fellow human beings. By doing this, we are also protecting ourselves from the disease. In addition, we get rewarded by the feeling that we belong to a bigger community, to the society as a whole, and we keep our psychological balance, which is of the utmost importance for a good quality of life, particularly in times of difficulty.
We need to reflect on the fact that all societies which have reached a high standard of civilisation were (and most continue to be) cohesive societies, and their people were individuals who placed the common good ahead of their own personal interests. In ancient times, human groups needed to work together in order to face external dangers; they also needed to cooperate, so that they could secure enough food for every member of their group. The first examples of cooperation and solidarity between the members of a social group came from that prehistoric period because of the need to meet these primary needs. Even in our times today these basic needs are still met in the same way.
Defending the borders and the territorial sovereignty of a country is the duty of every nation, which has to be based on cooperation, solidarity and the sharing of common ideals among the citizens. In the present corona virus period, the sense of protecting each other by having everyone adhering to strict safety health measures is also an expression of social solidarity. This should apply not only to individuals, but also to states who are members of transnational unions and associations. It seems that states more and more understand the need for mutual protection from the pandemic, cooperation and solidarity, although there are still a few exceptions to the rule.