By now, the news and its consequences have invaded all of our lives about the virus spreading throughout the world. I live in Florence, Italy. I won’t talk about numbers, statistics, or any other such information. I will talk about perspectives.
I was born in Romania in a communist era. As a child, I didn’t know or feel much of the pain that the grown-ups around me dealt with daily. I did have, like most of my generation, a few basic rules I needed to follow. Do not tell others how much food, or especially what food you have in your house. No one is your friend, and whatever happens inside the house is not to be repeated outside. You are not allowed to share sweets with your friends — the consequences of telling friends outside that on Sunday we had special cookies brought by Grandpa meant not being able to have those cookies ever again. The neighbors may be listening — at all times, be careful what you speak and to whom.
As children born into the regime, we didn’t argue with the rules and didn’t even think of disobeying them. For us, that was the normality of the society we lived in. For me, life meant I could play outside from morning until dawn interrupted only by the shouts of my grandma to come inside for lunch. I knew everyone had a house of their own. I knew grown-ups have jobs. I was taught that the people living in your home are the most important in your life. The rest could be disposable, replaceable, not trustworthy. Family was everything.
Then December 1989 came and with it the Revolution. The first thing we noticed as kids, was that our time outside became limited, and eventually taken away completely. Our meals were rationed better. My grandpa brought more food to the house after sundown. The grown-ups whispered more often and had long conversations in the kitchen after we were put to bed. The tension was palpable, until one evening, we were told to be very quiet. The lights in the house were turned off, and a candle, placed under the tall livingroom table, barely lit the room. We could hear terrifying shouting from the streets and loud noises, that at the time I couldn’t identify with gunshots. We all waited in silence.
A few months later, we were living in democracy. Shops opened from thin air, and a new word started spreading fast: privatization. I didn’t understand what it meant, but in my eight-year-old mind, its meaning became equal with deprivation quickly. Suddenly we were allowed to share everything with outsiders, but there was barely anything to share. Brands of sweets we had never seen before invaded our country, but there was no money to buy them. Not everyone owned their house anymore; not everyone had jobs. Family was not everything anymore; individuality was.
Tension build-up. Crisis. Aftermath.
Today, in Italy, tensions are rising, in some areas, the crisis has already begun, yet not many people think of the aftermath. The aftermath is usually determined by how one reacts in times of crisis. There is no middle ground. There are only different perspectives.
I have friends who locked themselves in their houses. I support them because it’s a personal choice of how one chooses to face this. I have friends who go about their day taking the necessary required precautions. I support them, as well. I know people who made provisions for months in advance. I don’t see anything wrong with that either. And then there are the people who choose to spread the message of fear, panic, hopelessness. That is where my support ends.
For most of us freelancers, it becomes more and more clear how our economic situation will suffer. For those whose jobs are determined by tourism, the year looks grim, unsteady. We each analyze and make decisions based on what each day brings. It all resumes to choice. Yet spreading fear guarantees a bad outcome exclusively.
I am having a hard time understanding why some base their choices on Facebook posts, or random, unchecked articles. I’m having trouble understanding judgemental reactions and excuses for racism that take place almost daily. The aftermath is overlooked, although history proves that no crisis lasts forever, yet its effects can destroy and unbalance for undetermined amounts of time.
From my perspective, Italy made the right choices, acted fast, and risked its economy to contain and prevent. From my perspective, reason, calm, and informed decisions are what matter most now. From my perspective, family and individuality should be in perfect sync at this time.
Choose balance over panic. Choose kindness over fear. And allow others to choose as they see fit.