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A Satire of Coronavirus

A Satire of Coronavirus

Monday, 16 March, 2020 - 09:00

Before being a killer, first and foremost, the coronavirus is a demeaning germ. Let us remember a not so distant time when the youths of Arab revolutions evoked a line from a poem by the Tunisian poet, Abi Kassem al-Shabbi:


“If the people wanted survival one day

Fate will inevitably comply”


They were saying that they could do anything, that they, too, were Prometheans, stealing fire from the gods and giving it to humans, thereby bringing civilization into existence.


Coronavirus has left them spending long periods washing their hands. Searching for sanitization products: where’s the soap? Did we stockpile toilet paper? What is crucial is that we are clean. That we shy away from the outside world.


Coronavirus told us that the ceiling is low over our heads and that we should bow our heads further below it. Humans' narcissism took a hit, as did their faith in themselves. The virus confirmed to them the fragility of the world that they had built and that their achievements in science and medicine could be done without. It told those who thought that the globe was boundless: stay at home. The globe is home.


With coronavirus’s onslaught, a dark side of our humanity swept down on us, a side that becomes restless every time this humanity tries to come out. Facing its pursuit for unification and expansion, isolation bares its teeth in a sardonic smile. Facing its push to demystify our world, we are being mystified. Facing our pride in humanity, nature humiliates us.


The pandemic, any pandemic, is perhaps less predictable than any of the other three vicious knights; death, war, and hunger. In the face of the ambiguity that accompanies this unpredictability, our isolation and loneliness are amplified. Social interaction, which begins with a handshake, from which acquaintanceship and familiarity emerge, maybe friendship and warmth as well, prompts reprimand. Even your own hand, if continues to shake that of others, becomes an internal threat that ought to be decontaminated.


Movement through airports and seaports incites panic. Traveling is inimical. Moving is forbidden. Public transportation, which nations fought in order to obtain, is a curse. Borders alone are to be appreciated, especially when those crossing them are immigrants and refugees, or any other sort of stranger. Medieval notions about disease-infected foreigners spring up, raising the sword of protection and breaking the pride of cosmopolitan cities with lockdowns and fences. In the face of our civilizational refusal to punish and reject the other, coronavirus responds with imposing isolation and quarantine as unavoidable measures. There is no room for mercy: the elderly and those with weak immunity are left to God's mercy. The dead are fated to die without being washed or wrapped.


Because of Coronavirus, politics is being put aside. Now, we all speak with one voice: "no voice cries louder than a battle-cry". For we are facing death, so do not exert energy on frivolity. Nothing is worth the effort, as all things and political regimes are alike in the face of coronavirus. The tools and spaces of protest, like crowds and public squares, spread the virus. Yes, go home, only states of emergency and martial law are of benefit. Meanwhile, "big brother", who is dealing with our exceptional circumstances, can do whatever he wants under the pretext of the coronavirus. Do you not see that it is a war not like any other, disruptive of literally everything, that it is being waged without an army, simultaneously, against entire countries, nations, and continents.


Conspiratorial consciousness is at its most extreme, especially that which is directed against America, which fate has assigned with this duty. Racist consciousness is peaking as well: Oh Lord, keep contact away from us. Let the hand that extends to shake ours be broken. Concentrate on hygiene and smells. Put up walls and checkpoints. Those suffering from OCD are the wisest among us; they knew early on that disaster was on its away. That prioritizing freedom and choice occurred in the meantime and could not but accelerate the disaster’s emergence.


Let the economies be destroyed, sector by sector. Let those laid off, widening the rows of unemployment, increase. China, which used to be described as the world’s second-largest economy, has become a hospital crowded with masks. Italy, the universe’s jewel, is isolated from the universe. If the time of coronavirus extends long, the weakest and poorest among us will pay the heaviest price. Since they are the ones who would suffer the most from the disappearance or disintegration of state apparatuses and the collapse of the systems of social protection and healthcare, they will be the primary victims. This applies to our countries especially: we have camps, refugees and a surplus of pain; coronavirus could hit like a flood.


We would then concern ourselves studying the history of deadly viruses and comparing them with each other above all else. The theme,today, is to rid ourselves of everything that looks luxurious and supplementary: let sports be without fans, childhoods without playgrounds, cinema without movie theaters, food without restaurants, coffee without cafes, and fun without bars. Yes, let love be without contiguity. The origin of things, their restriction to their most crude forms is the worship of today. Those who used to travel in order to escape wars can't travel anymore. The system is absolute, closed and functions everywhere.


As such, a sort of beginning of the world, then, is come together with a sort of end. As for us, our ability to affect the course of our lives and deaths is limited to sterilizing our hands and waiting for the medicine - the miracle coming from the laboratories.


The problem is global and the solution is national, if not familial. This is what is being said. However, those who say this are ignoring the international cooperation between the world’s governments and laboratories and new legal frameworks that will inevitably come out of this experience. They also ignore the brave doctors and nurses pushing back against this disease all over the world. As for thiscoercion and necessity bringing about a better world, to think so would be to belittle our pain. For only freedom makes things better, the coronavirus is a system of slavery that deserves nothing from us but rage.


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