Today and Tomorrow of a Pandemic (10)

Por: José Antonio Michelena y Yarelis Rico Hernández

The 2020 leap year that began on Wednesday will be set to fire in human history by the uncontainable transmission, to the five continents, of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, a spread initiated in China during 2019.

Covid-19 has claimed many lives and tested, in crisis management, very diverse governments and states of societies: from the most democratic and open, to the most authoritarian and closed.

But it has also tested us, that we are living an uneedited, unimagined experience, and we do not know exactly when and how this nightmare will end. Nor what will come after it’s over.

Much has been speculated about it, to the point of reaching the (almost) saturation of the subject, but not by looking the pandemic the pandemic will no longer be there, like the dinosaur of Monterroso. Every day we get up and lie by his shadow.

As other publications have done, we wanted to consult the opinion of a group of intellectuals, to which we have added the opinion of some Catholics, including priests, religious, religious and young lay people, to inquire about their particular experiences during all this time, to know how they have used it, how their days have elapsed, what they think about this present, and what they expect from the future , how you imagine it.



Neife María Rigau Chiang
Neife María Rigau Chiang

Neife, how have you lived through these months of lockdown? Did you make the most of it?

“I confess that somehow I find it difficult to adapt to the idea of confinement—I prefer not to call it a confinement—because of the activity I’m usually used to having in my daily routine, for work, study, and other responsibilities. Moreover, the accelerated process, uncertainty, concerns about decisions not made in time and right in the political-economic sphere were in me reasons for me sometimes being overwhelmed. However, I took a turn once I put aside my infighting with reality and, being in the new position, I set out to receive God’s graces for me.

“From that moment on, ‘the lockdown’ knew me to retreat. The time he looked like he was painting lost, I could see it as an opportunity. As at all times, in this period I have also been comforted to know myself accompanied by God; it is one of the certainties that we must always keep within us, because it gives us the strength we need to act or the patience we need to wait. That certainty is Christian hope.

“In this time I have discovered new ways to accompany others, even without being able to see them, be physically close, or help them in concrete efforts. I have been able to taste how pleasant it is to be at home and not just in terms of the tangible. I have enjoyed the moments of leisure, work and prayer with my parents; of the sublime goodness that nature gives us from where we are, such as seeing a plant reborn and reflecting through it on the hope of the resurrection and the value of taking care of life; delight in the nuances of sunset and meditate on light and darkness in analogy with Truth and falsehood. All this about what we’ve been through in these months. I mention the above since not always, for the reasons I said at the beginning, I can live those pleasant moments. In addition, I have been able to devote a lot of time to the study, which is always a true gift for those who enjoy learning. For these reasons I am grateful for what I have so far been able to do and I feel that, from my pace, or that of God, the time spent has been profitable.”

Are there any conclusions you’ve made, in existential terms, that you want to share?

“In this time I have been able to make some trips… They will wonder how possible it has been if the borders, the roads have been closed… But yes, I have traveled inwards, into the depths, which has allowed me to reflect and cultivate a little more the inner space that spirituality occupies. One of the reflections was on the origin of this unfortunate situation and God’s presence in the midst of it. I definitely say it with a fierce certainty, this disease has not been god’s work, for He is infinitely goodness, infinitely mercy, and infinitely love. He would never do anything to make his children suffer, no long as they are out of their way, no case however damaged the relationship is because of bad choices. There will always be an intention on your part to welcome us with open arms. That is why I think that the genesis of what has happened in recent months lies in human acts, yes, in those who lack love, responsibility. When humans act in this way, it always results in pain scenarios, at the micro level, wounds, rivalries, ruptures; at the macro level, wars, totalitarian regimes and pandemics that paralyze the world.

“But I return to what I have already expressed, and I insist on it, because, despite these acts, how do you think God has responded and responds? With anger? Turning our backs on us? No, in no way, for as the Apostle Paul rightly said in his letter to the Romans: ‘where sin abounded, grace was overabund’ (cf. Rom. 5:20b). Although we cannot have sensitive data of his presence, we can rejoice in the idea that he has been working and works, discreetly, in our lives, in our reality, causing goodness to abound.

“We have seen through the news cute gestures in solidarity in other parts of the world, but it would be nice to stop and look sharply for their presence where we are, despite everything negative we can find. For me he has been present in the lady who shared her food with others, in whom, risking, he couriers his neighbors, in those who have been harvesting or making the food that we have been able to have at our table; in family members, friends or acquaintances who have on countless occasions called or written to worry, in which they have made donations for those in unfavourable situations, and, of course, in so many who have remained comforting and accompanying the most vulnerable: the sick, the prisoners, the persecuted, the homeless, the elderly alone.”

What teachings could leave us, as social beings, this time of isolation?

“Because we are not alone, as we have been created to live in community and our being at all times tends towards the other, and that other, at the same time, makes us, we have a duty to his person. At a time when any carelessness can cause harm to the life of others or one’s own, the value of being responsible is more clearly perceived. Not only in the etymological sense of the word, which indicates the ability to respond to our acts or omissions, but we also need to be vigilant at all times and places, to remain awake to exercise full awareness in what I decide and in the action I execute. I think it’s one of the teachings he’s given us this time.”

How do you live up the post-pandemic future?

“I find this question very difficult. There are so many unfinished hypotheses and so many unanswered questions that I prefer not to make judgments that seem decisive or to result in what others have already expressed. However, I am aware that many more changes will happen than have happened so far, at all levels. Some may be beneficial to humanity, but others may also be harmful. I express the above because in the name of ‘good’, many may abuse the power and means of communication that have been granted to them, in order to obtain the benefits they desire from the social sphere. Among those who excel at me is control over certain citizen freedoms.

“I see the future framed in the challenge-opportunity relationship. Challenge for the challenges that will bring about change. Opportunity, because the human being is able to adapt to new situations and take advantage of them for their growth and that of those around them.”

Neife Maria Rigau Chiang, 21.

Student of Humanities at the Institute of Ecclesiastical Studies Father Felix Varela. Secretary of service developed by the Society of Jesus in Cuba for young people.

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