With some regularity, events happen that wake us up to the crude reality of our collective fragility. Now it’s a new virus. Seven decades ago, it was the ideological viruses of nationalism, extremism, and racism, which mutated into a fierce strain of intolerance that killed tens of millions of us. That was our most recent wake-up call to our inescapable collective weakness, when the science we adamantly touted as our ticket to a glossy future turned its back against us, producing increasingly sophisticated death machines, when the old trick of invading others excused by our racial or mental superiority backfired in its most tremendous scale yet.
The pile of forgotten lessons has been growing ever since. Our collective oblivion of the dangers of nationalism and intolerance, coupled with a renascent belief in progress whose most aggravated victim is the very nature that sustains us, has brought back a conducive scenario for another spree of mindless absurdity: reckless leaders, unrestrained economic speculation, a shrinking pool of natural resources, debilitation of global regulating bodies, nuclear heads in the hands of extremist regimes, and indifference — lots of it.
Viruses have their own cycles which, apparently, have little to do with the cycles of human societies. Collective fear of a new virus, the containment without precedent of daily lives at a global scale, will serve as an effective reminder of our shared fragility and, hopefully, will flatten the curve of the cycle of our collective absurdity.