Updated: May 24, 2021
Some of my reflections in this article go back to March 2020, when I was in Jerusalem and signs of Covid-19 effects on global human conscience started to show. Amongst the many despicable videos circulating at the time, a positive one from Jerusalem sent a clear message to the world. The value of solidarity. What has changed since, six months on? What have we learnt, discovered, treasured, forgotten? An invitation to unite…
The Latin phrase “Divide et Impera”, or divide and conquer, is attributed to the Roman emperor Julius Cesar who implemented this approach to war twenty two centuries ago. It works on a micro and macro scale, by gaining and maintaining power through the break up of the greater forces of the enemy, which then - individually - become weaker.
Julius Cesar was not the first one, nor the last one to apply this tactic against the enemy. The Renaissance philosopher Machiavelli became renown in history for his unscrupulous, devious and deceitful behaviour when it came to weaken and defeat. Napoleon used the same strategy and, nowadays, the Corona Virus. Sadly, during the first few confusing weeks in March 2020, we witnessed episodes of fear, panic and phobia - if not, dare say, xenophobia around the world. I hold both Italian and British nationality, and I am as close to one, as to the other in my sense of belonging. I have strong links with Spain, which expands my desire to be an ‘international spirit’.
Fragmentation is what we witnessed at the onset of the news that a deadly virus was sweeping across the world, claiming lives at high speed. From infamous videos, like the one of a pizzaiolo spitting green mucus over a ‘Corona Pizza’ circulating from a fellow European country, to other time-wasting social media exchanges. People all over the world were ostracised with bad taste jokes.
Back in March 2020, I was in Jerusalem. In one of the narrow alleys of the Old City, I saw three men meeting and shaking hands with each other in a friendly and warm manner, defiant of the guidelines health authorities had just imposed. They looked almost childlike careless. They did this with what can only be described as ‘human spontaneity’. They were displaying warmth and kindness to each other. Then, contradiction struck, as it often happens in life… I passed by them, and - despite my dual nationality - my Italian looks gave me away. They shouted at me “Corona! Corona!” - I smiled at them. A big, gleaming smile, which silenced them.
In the old Jerusalem narrow and bustling allies, the friendly - “Welcome, where are you from?” - was on that day replaced by this experience, which I took as a silly bad joke. There had been many bad jokes in those initial confusing weeks, even over people loosing their lives. There was much fear over loosing one’s own life. Fear makes us die many times in life, when in reality we only die once.
Along with the bad taste jokes, March 2020 witnessed a growing ‘I am alright Jack’ attitude with stockpiling food supplies, ‘necessities’ such as disproportionate quantities of toilet paper which were the preferred subject of photos and videos circulating on social media. Then, after a couple of weeks of what could be described as ‘social media jokes binging’ - used almost as an aesthetic to numb the pain of so many inexplicable life losses globally - something started to change. The divulgation of messages from people who had taken the Covid-19 as an opportunity to pause, reflect and act in the communal interest started to emerge and spread at a higher speed than the virus itself.
Messages, emails, exchanges, comments, contributions, articles - based on understanding, compassion, and solidarity aimed at filling the holes of this ‘Emmental cheese like world’ we had been living in - started flooding in. Even the reactive “Corona! Corona!” shouting episode in Jerusalem, was replaced by the circulation of a deeply meaningful video. It showed the projection on Jaffa Gate wall of the Italian flag and the writing: Italy, Jerusalem stands with you.
I hoped this video would inspire to see more flags and nations with the same writing on many walls around the world.
Solidarity, hope, caring, kindness: seen as medicines and weapons against the war on Corona Virus spreading. People coming together in a message of collective resilience and hope that in every human being - even those pointed at the most evil and devious ones - there is always the flicker of an inner bright light which needs nourishing.
In March 2020 the world suddenly slowed down in times of - “5G makes you go faster!” - when loud slogans turned into attitude... Where were we all going, anyway? Covid-19 has claimed many lives since, and we pay our respects to them. For us fortunate who kept well and healthy, an opportunity presented to take this slower segregated life imposed by the confinement and its consequences, as a moment of constructive and critical evaluation on where humanity wants to go and which direction to take… perhaps at a more human pace.
We learnt to slow down willy-nilly… Uncertain directions and news were disseminating more confusion than information at the time. Reaction over action was reigning… What now? What next?… Nobody knew…
Do we know now? What have we learnt? What are we hoping for? What will we treasure? What will we forget?
In these times of ‘stillness’… Have we learnt to centre? Have we learnt to listen? Have we caught the signs from Mother Nature who has had a break from us humans and our activity? We - who were taking advantage of Her abundant generosity depleting Her more and more, were forced to stop.
Could we almost say that ‘She’ reacted? …. In 2019 the most devastating natural disasters in centuries occurred. Almost a Mother Nature cry out, mirrored by an unambiguous call for action which came from the most eminent representatives of science, research and conservation to stop depleting Her. This official call for action was supported by the bold demand by the young generation who took to our streets worldwide in unison, to defend and preserve the environment, its, and their future. The UN environment programme with actions for biodiversity and climate called for accountability of leaders around the world to implement innovative policies and recognise that unless we all collectively act immediately, Mother Nature will no longer be the nourishing source, thus altering life on our planet.
Humans were forced to slow their presence and action on Earth… amongst the devastation Covid-19 has brought upon us, Mother Nature has almost taken a break from us humans and extraordinary natural events have happened …
At the beginning of September, on a UNESCO natural reserve beach - which this summer was spared from the multitude of yearly visitors - hundreds and hundreds of turtles eggs hatched. Many more than in the last few years. The warm sand was bustling with baby sea turtles rushing to the sea en masse. It was a joyful event facilitated by the reduced presence of humans on the beach making less holes in the sand, not placing and dragging their beach chairs on the sand, and leaving less amount of rubbish behind.
With a collective, responsible and respectful commitment to consciously share with the other inhabitants of this planet its beauty and natural cycle, humankind can still enjoy witnessing the miracles of life happening.
The above is an optimistic example - yet coming from Mother Nature - amongst history-making negative moments which have marked 2020 so far… we have just past half of this year which has brought the best and the worst out of humankind with shocking events happening. The devastating bushfires in Australia started in 2019 and carried through January 2020. The impeachment of USA president Trump, and the vote to acquit him. Still in January, the world feared the U.S. being on the brink of war with Iran. In late February, the WHO increased its risk assessment of Coronavirus to its highest level, until pandemic struck in March. April saw humankind caged in confinement. May witnessed the killing of George Floyd, the world united outrage and protests against racism. June, July and August the countries around the world performed a dance between re-opening and re-closing possibilities.
This reality unfolded against promised unmissable world events in 2020. From the January vibrant Dolomites Air Balloon festival in Italy. The Samba dancing Rio Carnival, in February. The Festival of Colours in India taking place in March, where the Holi celebrations are - even more ironically for that time - a reminder of the triumph of good over evil. The April Songkran in Thailand which marks three days of water-fight, partying on into the night. Hopping to France for the International Film Festival held in Cannes, in May. The winter solace on June 24th sees the Sun Festival in Cusco, Peru, celebrating Inti Raymi, a religious tribute to the Sun God Inti. The sun nourishes the grapes ready for the San Vino Wine Fight in Haro, Spain where throwing wine at each other rather than drinking wine with one another is the name of the game. Game takes us to the quintessential English experience of Wimbledon in July, moving us further north to Scotland in August for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. We are now in September, and through the beginning of October, the Oktoberfest in Germany would have brought that inebriated state of mind to make us forget it all!
November will bring us hope with Diwali. India biggest festival as religious celebration of the renewed victory of good over evil. Millions of oil lamps light up dispelling the darkness of ignorance.
Let’s hold on to the light. To channel it inward. To self-reflect. To project it outward. To hope. To awake our consciousness. To act positively united for Mother Nature, the animal realm and humankind.
I warmly welcome curious minds to join Flavoured to create a convivial and cultural space where conversations can take place to promote action to share positive experiences to enliven our lives, and to enrich our commitment to do good for each other. The best ideas are born around the table with plenty of food, fresh water and good wine!