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Istanbul
Ahmet Ümit, Author

The threat is not yet over, but this invisible enemy has shown us once again how selfish, how selfless, how cowardly, how brave, how clever, how stupid, how sensitive, how foolish, how generous and how greedy our species is. Yes, Covid-19 is also a kind of litmus paper: a tiny litmus paper that is invisible to the naked eye, showing us humans, self-proclaimed rulers of the earth, how powerless we really are.

By Ahmet Ümit

Ahmet Ümit © Enis Yücel

What would you say are symbols of your current situation or the current situation in your country?

Currently there are 171,121 corona patients in Turkey of which 989 people got infected today. Nevertheless, the government decided to start the normalization process. The situation in Turkey is not that different from other countries. Not only the governments, but also the people are extremely contradictory regarding their behavior towards the ongoing threat. There is this deceiving perception of the pandemic being over and us finally being safe. My current state of mind can be best described by the following scenario: I am stuck on a sailboat with a broken mast in the middle of the sea and I am desperate, because I know that a huge storm is about to break out. Although the captains of the boat keep assuring me that the storm is already over, I know for sure that this isn't true. We leave our fate entirely at the mercy of the storm, while we keep our eyes on the horizon waiting for a sweet surprise in the form of a chain of events that will save us. But there is no reason to be optimistic at all. Because this storm, in which we have gotten and whose power we fear, is different from any catastrophe that we have experienced before.
If the necessary precautions are not taken, because the safety measures so far have been insufficient, neither sea nor boat nor we will remain.
 
The worst part is that nobody knows exactly which safety measure is the right one. Despite ongoing international studies, it is still not clear what's really effective against an infection with Covid-19. There is also the fact that the captains do not prioritize the lives of the people on board, but the safety of some large companies. Keeping the economy alive seems to be more important than saving lives. The paradox is that the coronavirus pursues the same goal: the markets have to open up, they have to overflow with people so that physical contact is ensured in order to guarantee the growth, spread, strengthening and mutation of the virus until it is undefeatable and can continue taking lives. In the end neither humans nor the economy nor society nor life will remain.
 
While the sun is setting in the distance, we stand there on the sailboat with the broken mast and the creaking shaky wood, relentlessly staring at the endless glow of the sea for beautiful days to come. The threat is not yet over, but this invisible enemy has shown us once again how selfish, how selfless, how cowardly, how brave, how clever, how stupid, how sensitive, how foolish, how generous and how greedy our species is. Yes, Covid-19 is also a kind of litmus paper: a tiny litmus paper that is invisible to the naked eye, showing us humans, self-proclaimed rulers of the earth, how powerless we really are.

How will the pandemic change the world? What do you see as long-term consequences of the crisis?

With the pandemic, criticisms of socio-economic systems have been revived. Responses against measures that harm nature and other living beings, the ever-increasing gap between the rich and the poor and the elimination of the welfare state have increased. Once again it became clear that it is impossible to defend the interests of humankind regardless of country, nation and even other living beings. Once again it was proven that no thought, no belief and no lifestyle that does not focus on nature's well-being can be successful. This shows that people learn best from their own experiences. With that in mind, there is no reason why we should be facing the future hopelessly.
 
Unfortunately, the person who possesses the ability to create hope very easily, also has a certain disadvantage: she or he forgets very quickly. I am afraid that this might be the case here as well. As soon as we stop fearing the pandemic, states, companies and people will repeat their mistakes until the next global threat to our species arises. However, we certainly like to ignore the fact that we have been in danger all along: the real threat that hides behind Covid-19 is the selfish, ruthless, greedy, and foolish lifestyle of our species. Undoubtedly, this wrong way of living has the potential to create numerous kinds of new threats for us.

What gives you hope?

I established that humans are forgetful animals, but they are also animals that have the ability to learn from past experiences. They collect those experiences and pass them on to future generations. Also, there never was a pure human and never a pure thought, because it is not entirely impossible, but very difficult to objectively assess the experiences you have made in order to draw the right lessons from them. States that want to expand their influence on the world, multinational companies that only have their own advantage in mind, bigoted religious institutions and power-craving political structures will undoubtedly interpret what we've experienced in their favor and will demand actions which prioritize their interests. They will defend the old system.
 
Therefore, the silent majority and those most affected by the pandemic must be allowed to determine in which direction the ship is steered; they must voice their objections in all areas of life. To ensure that what we are experiencing today won't be forgotten in the future, people around the world must speak up, so that the necessary precautions will be taken - in the same way that people currently rise up against racism in the United States. Only then can we really speak of hope. Otherwise, hope is nothing more than a pink daydream that distracts us from the approaching catastrophe.

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