At this point, I think the only way you might not have seen that Italy’s on lockdown is if you don’t own a tv, radio, nor any type of functioning technology. I’m also pretty sure that a large part of the rest of the world will probably be following suit shortly. Italy has put us in quarantine for the collective good of the country. Because our freedom has been restricted, inevitably, there are a few who want to go against it, but for a country which normally can't even stand in a straight line without difficulty, Italy has impressed me by managing to do this lockdown fairly successfully. A population of about 60 million is currently at home and following directions responsibly.
Three weeks ago on Sunday evening, I received a text message from my community that schools would be closed for at least a week. The idea seemed absurd to me. Why was the Italian government panicking? Were there already enough cases to permit such a choice to be made? Apart from school closures, however, life proceeded fairly routinely: people went to work, had their afternoon/early evening aperitivo, and went out to dinner with their friends, family, and/or colleagues. Fast forward to two weeks later, and the next news slapped us all in the face suddenly. "Everybody home and stay there unless it’s necessary to leave! No driving and if you do so, you must have a declaration of where you're going or you risk being fined by authorities. Nothing is open except for banks, post offices, grocery stores, and pharmacies." In order to heal the sick and get the spread of the coronavirus under control, we’re now not supposed to go out any further than our balconies. I think Italy is doing the right thing. Our daily lives have been flipped upside down completely, but they’ve put the health of the citizens above the monetary interests of society.
I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what’s happening and what I think is that we are now quarantined to slow a virus, but on top of the coronavirus, the virus is us, I believe. We are poisoning each other and every other unit of the ecological family. We are disrupting our habitat and pushing it to the extreme. We are interconnected as humans and as a species, however, our lifestyle hasn’t been working in harmony for the good of every being. It’s not fun to be on lockdown and it’s not good for our system, but neither is excessive production and consumption. In order to maintain the intricate web of biodiversity and checks and balances which coexist in unity, we need to put the world before greed, consumerism, and money. We’re all in this together and there is no planet B. We will all lose if we don't start making massive changes to cherish and protect our reality because really, we are just pawns in an ecosystem which adjusts as necessary. Mother Nature will reign supreme and step in if we fail to live in unanimity with our resources and capacity. We mustn't forget that we can easily be wiped out by weather changes, virus adaptations, or killed by our own reckless doing. In fact, nature may very well have been the thing to put us into quarantine. It was driven to this point by the actions of too many humans, too much garbage, and too much pollution. We have taken more than we should have without giving back to our environment. Did you know that air pollution has dropped significantly during this time of less travel and movement? Many things can be implemented individually as well as collectively to get us moving towards living sustainably, but we’ll also need the help of those in power to do so. As election season arises, let’s be careful not to choose rich powerful politicians who are looking out for their own best interests. Let's think about the candidates who really want to help us, who will fight for the planet, and make a difference. The time now is crucial for our future existence. We must choose wisely because our planet and lives depend on it.
As we are seeing, without good health, we have nothing. If schools are closed, there are no teachers necessary for teaching. There are no bars or restaurants for meeting our friends, or for eating. There are no theaters open for entertainment, nor stores to go shopping. There is, most certainly, no money to spend if we’re not working, and no places to go when the doors are all closed to the public. We can't have these activities if they're not running, and they won't be running if our ecosystem is overloaded, unhealthy, and declining.
Despite the calamity of what is happening, there is beauty in moments of disaster or catastrophe. I see the river in my town flowing smoothly, the color of the green water sparkling, and the rays of the sun shining. The sky is bright blue, the air is clean, and there's a feeling that spring is coming. Perhaps even brighter than the sun, however, is the incredible spirit of human beings, which never fail to surprise me, especially in times of difficulty. We spend a lot of time feeling detached from one another and divided by race, gender, countries, religions, and beliefs, yet when it's necessary, we come together wonderfully. From Chinese health workers coming to help Italy, to Italians singing together from their balconies, we are intrinsically connected and not as separated as we sometimes think or feel ourselves to be. Even in lockdown, I look outside and see families working together, kids playing in their yards happily, and partners walking hand in hand as always. People don't want to be disconnected, and even more so when you ask them to be.
If this time-out has taught me anything, it’s how much I love my chosen home country and how much I hope for a better, more united, and sustainable world for everybody. Will our economies recover after this mess is over? Will businesses survive after closing their doors for weeks, months, or even longer? I don't know and I can tell you it’s frightening. I'm scared for my own job and future, and for those of my friends, students, acquaintances, members of the community, country, continent, and the world in which we are living. My heart breaks, in particular, for my beautiful Italy because it's the place I love more than anywhere as you know if you know me. I have been here since 2010 and with the passing years, I had become a bit complacent, however, quarantine has made things clearer for me. I'm currently feeling a lot more grateful for la dolce vita Italy offers me and I've refallen in love with the spectacular scenery, handmade cuisine, cheap glasses of bubbly, and a job where I get paid for talking. I've also never been more proud of a government's efforts to take care of its citizens and the spirit of the people who have banded together through music from their houses. Italy captured my heart on my first visit in 2006 and it continues to do so with each challenge and experience.
We're currently living a very strange moment in history. It's a moment that will bring about positive change hopefully because hardship has the tendency to bring out the best of humanity. With strength, support, and solidarity we can do better than what we’ve been doing and I think we'll all make it out of this situation well if we do so with connectedness, respect, and comradery for each other and our planet, which is supporting us entirely. As we are saying in Italy, "Tutto andrà bene!"