From heroes to "plagued": a society that attacks its health does not deserve them

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Louise Hay
@louisehay
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Sanitary mourning a colleague who died of coronavirus. (Photo Manu Fernández)

"If a case is confirmed in the building, you will be responsible!" It is the message that Mina, a nurse from Dourdan in France, who works on the front line with Covid-19 patients, found on the windshield of her car. It was signed by "the neighborhood". Mina was overcome with tension and started crying on the spot, according to Le Parisien.

In El Poblenou, Barcelona, ​​they were less "diplomatic". To a gynecologist they wrote directly about the "contagious rat" car, so that there was no doubt that it was not welcome in the building. Silvana was in shock from the severe and terrible humiliation, according to El Mundo.



The car of the health care attacked.

Their cases are not isolated. At Lariboisière hospital, north of Paris, they had to hire bodyguards to escort medical staff to their cars or to the metro entrance because they are continually subjected to physical attacks, as reported by L'Express.

Suddenly, the heroes that a part of the country applauds effusively from their balconies recognizing their difficult work also become the "plague victims" who few want to have neighbors and, if possible, would like to mark with a scarlet letter on their foreheads.

This can only generate colossal shame. And also a colossal anger. And in the end, a huge desolation.

When the unthinkable takes shape

The coronavirus took us by surprise. It turned our world upside down. He put our emotions in a blender and gave them back mixed and confused. To the waves of fear and panic are added waves of hope and strength followed by phases of sadness and anguish.


But there is no reason, excuse or possible pretext to attack those who protect us, save our lives - risking theirs - or expose themselves every day to guarantee us the minimum services we need.


Fear, in none of its forms, is a sufficient pretext for these attacks. The absence of empathy, the abysmal selfishness and ignorance, yes. Because, as Albert Camus wrote, "stupidity always insists". And he is reluctant to listen to the reasons since his banner has always been thoughtlessness.

Hannah Arendt, a philosopher who had to flee Nazi Germany, was well acquainted with this phenomenon. He warned us that "the majority were neither perverted nor sadistic, but were and continue to be terribly and horribly normal." What turned them into criminals was “just pure and simple thoughtlessness. A curious, and truly authentic, inability to think ".

Arendt's warning went unheeded because her words were far more terrifying than the Nazis' atrocities as they confront us with a terrible truth: the inability to stop and reflect on the consequences of our actions or to put ourselves in the other's shoes. it is what can take away our humanity by making us commit despicable actions.

It's the tendency to follow slogans without thinking, like putting a sign with smiling rainbows on your doorstep and the message #restaincasa while you order - quietly, unnecessarily and unconsciously - pizza with home delivery.

It is the tendency to continue to believe that we are the navel of the world and that the rest of mortals must adapt to our needs. The desire to cling to a security that does not exist. And to get angry, like little children, with those who remind us that we are vulnerable, that sickness and death could be just around the corner.


It is the tendency to look for culprits who can be touched, heard and, if possible, even attacked - if the time comes. It is the tendency to slip through the "crust of civilization", as journalist Timothy Garton puts it, at the slightest social shock. Losing not only the cardinal points that regulate social relations, but also the values ​​that distinguish humanity.


The rejection that hurts the most

Graffiti, posters and threats of eviction for fear of contagion are, of course, considered hate crimes. And as such, they can be denounced, tried, convicted and punished. But the most terrible thing for those who suffer this type of harassment is that what was unthinkable and incomprehensible until a few days ago has taken shape and in some places threatens to normalize.

The terrible thing is that those people who are risking their lives, most not for money but for conscience and responsibility, are hurt when they are most vulnerable. These people have been discriminated against, rejected and marginalized by those who until recently were part of their circles of trust. They are refused to do their duty. To help. To save lives.

And this first generates enormous perplexity and then infinite anger. Generates sadness. Makes you want to throw in the towel. It makes you wonder who exactly are you fighting for. And above all, if the sacrifice is worth it.

Because the medical personnel are not made up of heroes in bulletproof armor. They are people who perform heroic deeds. But these people also suffer from humiliation and contempt. Because right now they are extremely vulnerable psychologically.


Therefore, it is important that all these people feel protected and supported by the other side of society. Those who, although they too are afraid, know how to control themselves to support the weakest. Those who are tired too, but still find the strength to give a smile. That although they live in uncertainty, like everyone else, they know how to transmit security. Those who think. Which they appreciate. Who do not adhere to short-lived slogans, but are looking for a way to contribute their grain of sand.


And the grain of sand that corresponds to us to contribute at this moment is to support all those who support us. Unconditionally. Create a barrier against ignorance. Put a stop to selfishness. And fuel empathy.

Because if this crisis has taught us anything, it is that a virus can be scary, but human reactions can make a difference. And from this situation, as Juan Rulfo wrote, “we save ourselves together or we sink apart”. In case anyone hasn't figured it out.

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