People are losing their lives and jobs, social life is shutting down step by step. What seemed unthinkable last week has become normality today. The weather is sunny, warm, with flowers starting to bloom everywhere, in stark contrast to the virus news following us in a seemingly unstoppable and accelerating rhythm. More than 14.000 people are infected by now in Germany, 519 of them in Berlin. Still, the parks and streets are filled with people, hungry for a breath of fresh air and some sunrays after a long winter, in anticipation of the worst – a total lockdown like in France, Spain, and Italy seems like just a matter of time. People glance at each other with both suspicion and solidarity when passing each other, knowing that we are all in this together, and keeping the recommended distance of 1-2 meters. Who knows, maybe the other sneezes just while you pass by?
Suddenly, those people working in low-paid yet stressful job sectors such as supermarkets, care work, garbage collection, delivery and so on are regarded as “system-relevant” (which they always were) – maybe, this lead to a shift in values, where all jobs receive the attention and remuneration they deserve? Others, however, are struggling with their livelihoods and existence, suddenly making no turnovers from one day to the next – bar and shop owners, small businesses, the self-employed, cultural workers, etc.; all those who enrich social and cultural life, but often on such a precarious basis that 2 weeks without work might lead to a total ruin. But even the big corporations cannot sustain their production and operation, when suddenly their business plans dissolve in plain air.
Unemployment support is made accessible without much bureaucracy, states are issueing free money for those struggling. Temporarily laid off teachers and other workers are offering their babysitter services; bored students with closed universities are recruited to help fill the empty shelves in the supermarkets, where people wait long lines with full carts in order to prepare for the worst. The Germans take fright at the mere thought that their asparagus might rotten on the fields, as borders to Poland are closed, restricting cheap harvest workers to come. Where will all this lead us to, is this the end of capitalism or the beginning of something worse? Naomi Klein is pessimistic… – let’s be optimistic and hope this will lead to more solidarity (beyond borders!), a shift in values, a recovering climate, and new social practices of mutual support. Stay healthy and safe!
Sources: spiegel.de & tagesspiegel.de