by Stefano Bettera
The Covid wound is deep and we find ourselves still in the front row, under an attack that involves not only our health and economic condition but undermines, above all, sociality, the possibility of returning to living relationships. Hope is made fragile by uncertainty, isolation, and the fear of encountering suffering. The disease affecting our society is insidious because it brings with it a radical transformation of the places where people can meet, work, engage in culture, and relate; and the pandemic does not give us a certain horizon on which to base a reconstruction.
Healing the wound
Yet the wound must be healed, the healing must be imagined and desired. It becomes a priority to take care of this restorative process, of rapprochement. The place to put it into action, to create the conditions for rebirth, is our human community. Think of it as the common home that encourages, supports and protects closeness and relationships. Sharing a hope is a great engine of transformation. It is a kind of magic and a form of practice. Trusting in this will to create community, this deeply human instinct to build links, to value them, together with the choice of being on the side of what unites us, represents the concrete possibility of healing the wound and starting again together. In this time, in this world. This is a profoundly secular and at the same time spiritual project.
The impact of the coronavirus is also so profound that the way we perceive the world appears to us to have changed irrevocably. But it is precisely because of the lack of depth in the narrative of this period that, although dramatic, is in any case transitory, that it is urgent to go back and reflect on what are the foundations on which a community is built. In recent months, I have been struck by how some Italian theatre companies have chosen to get off the stage and enter courtyards, especially in the working class suburbs, and bring beauty where there was alienation and despair. In this hope, in this changed paradigm that has rediscovered the value of proximity, of nearness, we can and must rediscover the value of a strong emotional bond that can also create a different narrative of reality.
The “polis” of friendship
We must rediscover a view of the other that is not dominated by fear, but courageously puts friendship back at the centre, as a sincere opportunity to get to know each other, to compare notes, to build an identity that is the beginning of a process of imagining a new collective identity. Our communities, whether secular or not, can use this process of transformation to create a new understanding of citizenship, an idea of the polis where proximity becomes the condition to create relational micro-communities that become the bricks for the common house of our new present and open us to the hope of a new future.