A year of solidarity?

When the pandemic first took hold, people everywhere said that only through a joint effort could humankind overcome such a crisis. But not much seems to remain of the initial solidarity and willingness to make sacrifices. Commentaries give an idea of the extent to which the sense of disillusionment and exhaustion are the result of political failures.

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NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Sense of community replaced by distrust

Author Tommy Wieringa observes with bitterness in his column in NRC Handelsblad:

“Covid-19 became politicised, as the saying goes. Something that threatened and united us all became a source of conflict. The fervent identification with one's own opinion quickly stifled the ability to put things into perspective and the free exchange of ideas. The virus not only intensified the usual antagonisms between groups, but also alienated friends and families from one another. Instead of receiving applause nurses were scolded; instead of being trusted scientists were threatened. ... Patience with the weaker, the sick and the elderly ran out surprisingly quickly. Why should the majority made up of the healthy have to adapt? ... It was not worth it.”

Mediafax (RO) /

International collaboration is indispensable

The pandemic has confronted us all with an important reality, writes author Adrian Onciu in the blog of news website Mediafax:

“The deadly virus is the perfect terrorist: you can't see it, you can't hear it, you don't feel it! You would do anything to make it go away; renounce rights and fundamental freedoms. ... You'd take help from any source to ensure your survival. Absolutely normal. We all want to live long lives. But a pandemic is not something to be played with. Nor can you fight it alone. Whether you're the US, Russia or China - no matter how strong you are, your survival depends on global, coordinated efforts. ... Only together will we be able to liquidate this new (and perfidious) terrorist.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Primacy of the economy showing weaknesses

The consequences of the liberalisation of recent years have become painfully clear for many Swedes in 2020, Aftonbladet emphasizes:

“The pandemic has given us new insights into the practical meaning of solidarity. ... In recent decades, decision-making power has shifted from politics to business. Privatisation has taken place in the areas of healthcare, schools and care for the elderly, railway services, the postal service and housing construction. Politicians have been left with little to say on important social issues; companies set the course. ... When economic power is locked up in corporations and international agreements, the only things we end up arguing about are culture, norms and identities . ... This year has shown us how much we depend on each other, and that we need each other.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Compassion has fallen silent

Journalist Domenico Quirico points to the fate of the refugees who are freezing in the snow in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and for whom no one feels responsible. He laments in La Stampa:

“We believed in the solidarity of the poor with the poor, in the compassion of those who, shaken by disappointment and bitterness, have experienced misfortune and can sympathise with others who are going through it. No longer. This comfort is also being taken from us, it is disappearing, drying up. Because three thousand migrants are wandering through the flurries of snow in Bosnia, looking for a path that will take them to the Europe they dream of: three thousand without shelter, without refuge; isolated, denied, rejected. ... Bosnia is a memento of the possibility of falling back into a horrendous situation again and again. ... There, too, compassion has fallen silent, speechless. It is easier for hatred to find words.”