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A Note About the Covid-19 Emergency

PANDEMY AND UNIVERSAL
BROTHERHOODS Notes on the Covid-19 Emergency
30 March 2020

All of humanity is being tested. The Covid-19 pandemic is placing us in an unprecedented, dramatic and global situation of distress whose power to destabilize all the plans we have for our lives is increasing day by day. This pervasive threat challenges aspects of our way of life that we take for granted. We are living a painful paradox we would never have imagined: to survive illness, we must isolate ourselves from one another, but if we ever learn to live isolated from one another, we will quickly realize how important it is to our lives. that is, living with other people.

In the midst of our technological and managerial euphoria, we have found ourselves socially and technically unprepared for the spread of this contagion: it is difficult for us to recognize and acknowledge its effects. And now, we are in a hurry to limit its spread. But if we think about the existential instability it causes, we see a similar unpreparedness — not to mention certain resistance — associated with recognizing our physical, cultural, and political vulnerability in the face of this phenomenon. This destabilization is beyond the reach of therapeutic equipment science and technology. It is unfair — and a mistake — to assign responsibility for this situation to scientists and technicians. At the same time,it is true that the greater depth of vision and the input that comes from more responsible reflection on the meaning and values ​​of humanism are of equal urgency to research on drugs and vaccines. And that's not all. Recognizing this depth and responsibility creates a context of bondage and unity, fellowship and brotherhood, because our common humanity, which is far from hindering the contribution of men and women to science and government, is very supportive of them and reaffirming their roles. Their dedication - to which they owe everyone due and sincere gratitude - through this time will surely be strengthened and appreciated.

In this context, the Pontifical Academy for Life, which through its institutional mandate develops and supports the fusion of science and ethics in search of the best possible humanism, wishes to contribute to its own reflection. The intention is to place certain elements of this situation in a new spirit which must foster social relations and care for the person. The extraordinary situation which today challenges the fraternal humana communitas (human community) must ultimately transform itself into an opportunity for this spirit of humanism to influence institutional culture on a regular basis: within one's own nations, and in the harmonious bonds between nations. nation.

Solidarity in vulnerability and within limitations .

First, the pandemic affirms with unexpected acumen, the vulnerability that radically characterizes our human condition. In some regions of the world, this vulnerability in individual and community life is a daily experience due to poverty which does not allow everyone to access care, even if it is available, or in sufficient quantities, even if not lacking worldwide. In other parts of the world, the number of areas of uncertainty has dwindled through advances in science and technology, to the point where we delude ourselves into thinking that we are immune or that we can find a technical solution to everything. However, no matter how much effort we put in, it would be impossible to control the ongoing pandemic.even in the most economically and technologically advanced societies, where the pandemic has surpassed the capabilities of laboratories and health care facilities. Our optimistic projections of our scientific and technological capabilities have perhaps allowed us to imagine that we will be able to prevent the spread of a global epidemic of this size, so much so that the possibilities seem even more remote. We have to admit that this is not the case. And nowadays we are even encouraged to think that, along with the extraordinary resources of protection and care that our progress generates, there are also side effects that point to the weakness of our system and we are not vigilant enough in this regard.Our optimistic projections of our scientific and technological capabilities have perhaps allowed us to imagine that we will be able to prevent the spread of a global epidemic of this size, such that the possibilities seem even further away. We have to admit that this is not the case. And nowadays we are even encouraged to think that, along with the extraordinary resources of protection and care that our progress generates, there are also side effects that point to the weakness of our system and we are not vigilant enough in this regard.Our optimistic projections of our scientific and technological capabilities have perhaps allowed us to imagine that we will be able to prevent the spread of a global epidemic of this size, such that the possibilities seem even further away. We have to admit that this is not the case. And nowadays we are even encouraged to think that, along with the extraordinary resources of protection and care that our progress generates, there are also side effects that point to the weakness of our system and we are not vigilant enough in this regard.And nowadays we are even encouraged to think that, along with the extraordinary resources of protection and care that our progress generates, there are also side effects that point to the weakness of our system and we are not vigilant enough in this regard.And nowadays we are even encouraged to think that, along with the extraordinary resources of protection and care that our progress generates, there are also side effects that point to the weakness of our system and we are not vigilant enough in this regard.

After all, it is very clear that we are not masters of our own destiny. And science also shows its limitations. We already know this: scientific conclusions are always incomplete, whether because they focus - for convenience or for important reasons - on certain aspects of reality and ignore others, or because of the temporary nature of scientific theories. in any case and can be revised. But in the uncertainties we have experienced in dealing with the Covid-19 virus, we have come to realize with new clarity the stages and complexities that are part of scientific knowledge, which have special requirements regarding methodology and validation. The vulnerabilities and limits of our understanding also appear global, real, and the same;there is no real argument that allows some cultures or entities to consider themselves sovereign, better than others and able to isolate themselves whenever appropriate (with the aim). Now, we are close enough to "touch" our interconnectedness. Indeed, we are more connected to each other through our exposure to fragility than by the efficiency of our tools. Transmission spreads rapidly from one country to another; what happens to one person determines everyone. This situation makes clear what we know, but are not sufficiently internalized: for good or for bad, the consequences of our actions always fall on others as well as ourselves. There can be no individual action without social consequences. This applies to every individual,and for every community, society and population center. Careless or ignorant behavior, which seems to affect only ourselves, poses a threat to everyone who is exposed to the risk of transmission, perhaps without even affecting the perpetrator himself. In this way we learn how everyone's salvation depends on the salvation of others.

Epidemics are certainly a constant in human history. But we cannot hide the characteristics of the present threat, which suggests that it can very well adapt its rebellious power to our current way of life and can avoid protective measures. With our efficient and extensive transport and shipping networks, we must be aware of the impact of our development models, which exploit hitherto unspoiled forest areas where microorganisms unknown to the human immune system are found. We may come up with a solution to what is attacking us right now. However, we must do so, with the knowledge that these types of threats are accumulating long-term systemic potential.

Second, it would be better to tackle the problem with the best scientific and organizational resources at our disposal, avoiding ideological pressure on the model of a society that equates safety with health. Instead of being seen as a defeat for science and technology - which of course must always encourage us because of its progress, but at the same time it must humbly make us live with its limitations - sickness and death are deep wounds to our dear and deepest affections. However, it cannot force us to abandon the truth of affection and the breaking of affective bonds. Even when we have to accept our inability to fulfill love in the affections and bonds it contains. Even though our lives are always mortal,we have hope which is not the case with the mystery of the love in which life resides.

From de facto interconnectedness to solidarity choices

We are never called to be aware of the reciprocity that underlies our lives as much as we have during this dire emergency. By realizing that every life is a life in common, we together form life, and life comes from "the other." The resources of a community that refuses to view human life only as a biological fact are valuable assets that also responsibly accompany all other activities that need attention. Perhaps we have carelessly squandered this legacy, the value of which is different in times like these, and have seriously underestimated the relational goodness that can be shared and disseminated when emotional ties and community spirit are tested,precisely by our need for the need to protect biological life.

Two rather harsh ways of thinking which, however, seem to have become commonplace and point of reference when we speak of freedoms and rights which tend to be raised in present discussions. The first is, "My freedom ends when the freedom of others begins." This formula, which is so ambiguous, is not appropriate for understanding real experience, and it is not by chance that it is affirmed by those who are actually in a strong position: our freedoms are always intertwined and overlapping, good or bad. On the contrary, we must learn to give our freedom collaboratively for the common good, to overcome the tendency, which epidemics can create, to see in others the “contagious” threat that keeps us distancing ourselves,enemies that make us protect ourselves. The second is, "My life is completely dependent on myself." - No, it's not. We are part of humanity and humankind is part of us. We must accept this dependence and respect the responsibilities that make us participants and main actors in it. There is no right which does not have the concomitant obligations of it: the coexistence of those who are free and equal is a very beautiful ethical issue, not a technical one.We must accept this dependence and respect the responsibilities that make us participants and main actors in it. There is no right which does not have the concomitant obligations of it: the coexistence of those who are free and equal is a very beautiful ethical issue, not a technical one.We must accept this dependence and respect the responsibilities that make us participants and main actors in it. There is no right which does not have the concomitant obligations of it: the coexistence of those who are free and equal is a very beautiful ethical issue, not a technical one.

Therefore, we are called to admit, with new and profound emotions, that we have been entrusted with one another. Never as many times have the relationship of caring shown itself to be the fundamental paradigm for human coexistence. Change from de facto interdependenceto solidarity choice is not an automatic change. But we already have signs of a shift toward responsible action and fraternal behavior. We see this very clearly in the commitment of healthcare professionals who generously devote all their energies, sometimes even risking their own lives or health, to alleviating the suffering of the sick. Their professionalism goes far beyond the boundaries of contractual obligations, thereby testifying that work is primarily a realm of expression, a realm of meaning and values, not merely a "transaction" or "merchandise" in exchange for a price. But the same is true of researchers and scientists who put their skills at the service of others.This commitment to sharing power and information has allowed for rapid collaboration between networks of research centers on experimental protocols to establish safety and efficacy of drugs.

Likewise, we must not forget all other women and men who every day choose positively and courageously to maintain and cultivate brotherhood. They are mothers and family fathers, old people and young people; they are people who, even in objectively difficult situations, continue to do their job honestly and with care; they are thousands of volunteers who serve incessantly; they are leaders of religious communities who continue to serve people entrusted with their care, even at the risk of their own lives, as the stories of so many priests who have died from Covid-19 have revealed.

Politically, the current situation urges us to take a broad view. In international relations (and in relations between Members of the European Union) it is an imprudent and misleading logic to attempt to provide answers in terms of "national interests." Without effective cooperation and coordination, which resolutely overcome the inevitable political, commercial, ideological and relational resistance, the virus will not stop. Of course, this is a very serious and burdensome decision: we need a vision and open choices that do not always satisfy the immediate desires of individual citizens. But given the current realities of global dynamics, our responses to be effective cannot be limited only to what happens within the boundaries of our own territories.

Science, medicine and politics: social relations tested

Political decisions must necessarily take scientific data into account, but they cannot be limited to these factors. Allowing human phenomena to be interpreted solely in terms of the categories of the empirical sciences will yield answers only at the technical level. It will end with a logic that regards biological processes as determinants of political choices, following the dangerous path that bio-politics has taught us. It also disrespects the differences between different cultures in order to understand them in a single technical-scientific sense: the different connotations associated with health, disease, death and the health care system can become a wealth for everyone.

On the contrary, we need a mixture of science and humanism, which must be integrated and not separated, or worse, contradicting each other. Emergencies such as in Covid-19 are handled mainly with solidarity antibodies. Technical and clinical safeguards must be integrated into a broad and deep search for the common good, which must resist the tendency to redirect benefits to persons of privilege and neglect of persons who are vulnerable according to nationality, income, politics or age.

This applies also to all choices made under the “policy of care,” including those more closely connected to clinical practice. An emergency (occurring) in which many countries find themselves able to force doctors to make dramatic and painful decisions regarding the rationing of limited resources not available to everyone at the same time. In such cases, having done everything possible at the organizational level to avoid rationing, it must always be remembered that decisions cannot be based on differences in the value of human life and the dignity of each person, which is always equal and invaluable. The decision is more related to the use of therapies in the best possible way based on the patient's needs,that is, the severity of the disease and the need for treatment, and evaluation of the clinical benefit that treatment can provide, based on its prognosis. Age cannot be taken into account as the only automatic criterion governing selection. Doing so can lead to discriminatory attitudes towards the elderly and the very weak. However, it is necessary to formulate criteria, which are agreed upon by as many (people) as possible and based on strong arguments, to avoid arbitrariness or improvisation in emergency situations, as disaster medicine has taught us. Of course, this must be repeated: rationing should be the last resort. Seek as far as possible equal therapy, share resources, and transfer patients,are alternatives which must be considered carefully, within the framework of fairness. Under bad conditions, creativity has also provided solutions for special needs, such as using the same ventilator for many patients. After all, we must not leave the sick, even when there is no more available therapy: palliative care, pain management and personal assistance should never be eliminated.pain management and personal assistance should never be eliminated.pain management and personal assistance should never be eliminated.

Even from a public health standpoint, the experiences we are going through show us a serious test, even if it can only be done in the future, in less difficult times. What is meant is a balance between a preventive approach and a therapeutic approach, between individual therapy and the collective dimension (given the close correlation between health and personal rights, and public health). This is a problem based on a deeper concern for the goals that medicine can set for itself, taking into account the overall role of health in social life in all its dimensions, such as education and concern for the environment. One can see the success of a global bioethics perspective,which takes into account the many interests at stake and the larger scope of the global problem than an individualistic and reductive view of issues of human life, health and care.

The risk of a global epidemic demands, in the context of responsibility, the start of global coordination in the health care system. Recognize that the strength of a process is determined by the weakest linkages, in terms of speed of diagnosis, reaction rate and proportional security measures, adequate structure, data record storage systems and the ability to share information and data. It is essential that the authorities, who can comprehensively handle emergencies, make decisions, and regulate communications, can also be relied upon as a point of reference for avoiding the communication storm that has spread (“infodemic”), with inaccurate data and unsuitable reports. complete.

Duty to protect the weak: Evangelical faith is put to the test

In this scenario, special attention should be paid to those who are most vulnerable, and we think especially of the elderly and people with special needs. All other things being equal, epidemic mortality rates vary in relation to the situation of the affected countries - and within each country - with respect to the resources available, the quality and organization of the health care system, the living conditions of the population, the ability to know and understand characteristics. of phenomena and to interpret information. There will be more deaths when in everyday life people are no longer guaranteed in simple basic health services.

This last consideration, too, of the greater negativity faced by those who are most vulnerable, compels us to pay great attention to how we speak of God's actions in this historical crisis. We cannot interpret the suffering that mankind is experiencing according to the crude schema that establishes the correlation between “lèse-majesté” (rebellion) against the divine and “holy retribution” committed by God. The fact that in such a scenario those who are weakest will suffer, precisely those whom He cares for most and with whom He resembles Himself (Matt. 25: 40-45) prevents contradicting this possibility. Listening to the Scriptures and fulfilling the promises that Jesus fulfilled shows that being on the side of life, as God has commanded us,manifested through a humanitarian movement for "the other." A movement which, as we have seen, is not lacking in these days.

Every form of caring, every expression of generosity is a victory of the Risen Jesus. It is the Christian responsibility to bear witness to this matter. Always and for everyone. At this point in time, for example, we cannot forget other disasters that afflict those who are most vulnerable, such as refugees and immigrants, or nations ravaged by conflict, war and famine.

Prayers of the people

When evangelical intimacy meets physical limitations or hostile opposition, the pleas of the people — based on the Cross — retain their unstoppable and decisive power, even if people do not appear to be living up to God's blessing (Isa. 32: 9-13). This cry of supplication from the faithful becomes a place where we can come to terms with the tragic mystery of death, the fear that is part of all our stories today. At the foot of the cross of Christ, it is possible to think of human existence as a great pilgrimage: the shell of our existence is like a cocoon waiting for liberation to become a butterfly. All creation, says Saint Paul, is experiencing "the pain of childbirth."

It is in this light that we must understand the meaning of prayer. As a plea to everyone and everyone who is suffering - and Jesus has brought them also into solidarity with us - and as a moment to learn from Him how to live suffering as an expression of trust in the Father. This is the dialogue with God who is the source that enables us to trust in humans too. From this we derive the inner strength to carry out all our responsibilities and open ourselves up to repentance, according to a reality that makes us understand how a more human coexistence is possible in our world. We remember the words of the Bishop of Bergamo, one of the most affected cities in Italy, Bishop Francesco Beschi: “Our prayers are not magic formulas.Faith in God does not magically solve our problems, but gives us the inner strength to carry out that commitment that all alone, in different ways, are called to live, especially those who are called to control and overcome this evil. "

Even an unbeliever like this can at least get enlightenment from the witness of universal brotherhood that shows the best part of the human condition. Humanity, who for the sake of life as the unwavering common good, has not left the sphere where humans love and work hard together, earning the gratitude of all and the respect for Allah.

Source : Bacaan Injil dan Renungan