The beginning of the year is usually dedicated to take stock of the past and to plan the future. This January 2021 is full of uncertainties and we have to look at the upcoming months in a different way. However, the seriousness of the situation implies a different reaction than just panic and appalling reactions to whatever new happens in the World, from the mob assaulting the Capitol to the plane sinking in the waters of Indonesia.
The first thing to do is to act for stopping the diffusion of the pandemic with a careful behavior and understanding. At the moment, the vaccine has been identified thanks to an unprecedent cooperation of the whole scientific community. From a European perspective, the Union has not collapsed – as some could have expected, but on the contrary, it proved to be a fortress of coordination and unity.
Moreover, during its annual speech, the Italian President Mr Sergio Mattarella, repeatedly mentioned, for the first time, the key importance of a European unity. Such a global threat requires a global answer. Indeed, the European Union made a quantum leap in its own reaction and in its way of functioning, with policies and funding programmes going far beyond what was thought to be possible before the pandemics. That is a good sign: if we want, we can do more. Democracies can manage crises and find solutions. We are expecting a lot from our European unity and we need to look at it as an added value of this global tragic situation. Our lives and businesses need to adopt a new rhythm and different ways of working and we are all required to cope with it, for the necessary time needed.
Everybody is longing for getting closer; nevertheless, for the time being, the only possible chance we have to get in touch with one another is through Zoom and other communication technologies, enabling us to stay in contact by maintaining social distancing and being cautious. We all might be tired, but we owe our sense of civic responsibility to all the people who lost their loved ones because of the virus and the incautious behavior of some. More, we owe this to all of those who are currently fighting in hospitals and intensive care units. We should not dare to complain about “another Zoom conference”.
“If we want, we can do more. Democracies can manage crises and find solutions”
The second aspect today is solidarity and care. Some of us are less well off than others. Economy and social difficulties are challenged and worsened by the situation and those who suffered before are even in deeper distress today. We need to emphasis social attention and take care of each other. As an example, the dramatic situation in the United States, in many ways, has a large importance in the global scene; nevertheless, the macroscopic attention which has ben given by our media may act as a sort of anesthetic, distracting us to what’s going on in our local dimension, namely our yard, building and in our city. It is another movie series proposed on the news. Let’s take care of our communities and find any way possible to remain a social community, working with local authorities, offering our contribution to volunteer centers, to what is the feasible extent to ensure and protect everyone’s health.
This amazingly serious situation is a wakeup call for Europeans and in general for the Western population, which is brutally realizing to be part of a wider dimension, understanding for maybe the first time how intrincsically connected is the whole globe in all its parts and that from a moment to another we are at the mercy of disasters and uncertainty, as it is the case for many people in the world.
ALDA and I have been working for more than 20 years now with those who saw their live turning upside down overnight, losing everything and waking up in a completely different World without knowing how the next day may look like. We have to learn from them now, from the Balkans, from Eastern Europe, from Africa, and learn how to be resilient and, basically, go on.
Happy new year to all and… join ALDA, working together with local communities for local communities.
Secretary General of ALDA – European Association for Local Democracy
[Picture shot during ALDA General Assembly 2019 in Caen, France]