Sunday, May 19, 2024

FOUR LESSONS THAT CORONA VIRUS IS GIVING US

Author: Xhelal Neziri

Rapid technological development, globalization and competition to gain as much capital as possible for a moment stopped. The corona virus, named COVID-19, with its rapid spread due to high virulence, locked the globe. Everything stopped working: people were locked up in their houses, factories work with shortened time, and only the most basic sectors of life remained functional – medicine and the food industry.

Lack of verified information about the symptoms, consequences and longevity of the virus creates fear and anxiety not only among citizens, but also among the most eminent scientists in the world. Well-known virologists and epidemiologists around the world fail to define this type of virus: just as they say that the main symptoms are three, there are other cases that deny them. While it is estimated that there is a 3% mortality rate from the total number of infected, in Italy this rate reached almost 14%. In each country it appears differently, strikes with different powers and causes different troubles.

However, there are four moments that make us think that this virus wants to teach us a lesson:

I. UNSELECTIVE APPROACH. Even though, this virus has a non-selective approach, in which case it does not know whether someone is rich or poor, white or black, left or right, government or opposition, of Europe, America, Asia, Africa or Australia. It started in China, in the wildlife market in the city of Wuhan, and after two months, it reached Time Square in New York. Unlike wars, earthquakes, floods, or other natural disasters that occur in a particular place on the globe that seems too far away to feel compassion, this pandemic knows no boundaries. Lack of food in Sudan and Yemen, war in Syria or crime in Mexico takes thousands of lives every day, but it is not a big problem for the globe as long as it is an isolated problem in those invisible parts of the globe. It remains a problem that does not cause concern among politicians, as armored vehicles and hundreds of personal guards protect them. Wealthy businesspersons do not turn their heads to places where children die of starvation as they have the capital to live in luxury for a lifetime that would last another 1,000 years. Journalists do not report on these tragedies because the public is not so interested in knowing about events that are so far away from them. In addition, this virus teaches us that in this globalized world, nothing is isolated and no one is one hundred percent protected. The only discrimination in this pandemic is related to the reporting of cases of infected or victims: if it is about a politician, businessperson or a well-known person of public life, then it is reported about that individual with full identity, ie by name and surname. In other cases, the infected or victims are just statistics.

II. THE NEED FOR SCIENCE. Although almost every good of humanity is the result of science, it seems that it does not have the expected respect. Israel and South Korea are the only two countries in the world that share over 4 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for scientific and developmental research.  Next on the list are developed countries such as Germany, USA, Japan, France, China, Finland, Australia, Taiwan, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria and Slovenia with close to 3 percent of GDP, while the rest share less than 2 percent. As an illustration, Saudi Arabia allocates only 0.25 percent of GDP for science, while spending 13 percent on the military and defense, which makes it a world leader in this area. Qatar, a country also rich in oil, spends only 0.47 percent of GDP on science and up to 10 percent on military defense. From the Balkan countries, North Macedonia for scientific research and development shares 0.44 percent of GDP, Croatia – 0.81 percent, Bosnia and Herzegovina – 0.33 percent, Montenegro – 0.38 percent, Albania – 0.05 percent and Kosovo – 0.7 percent. Now that the corona virus is seeking a scientific answer, that is, to discover the cure and the vaccine, everyone is turning their eyes to countries that have developed science. The money spent on military defense seems like a waste of investment when the military, supersonic planes, tanks and anti-aircraft systems do nothing to fight the virus.

III. CONSCIOUSNESS FOR GENERAL INTEREST. This virus will eventually teach the selfish citizen that the general space is everyone’s, and cannot be completely separated from private property. The selfish citizen tends not to be interested in public property and wealth. Anything outside his home is a foreign space that it is not of his interest and he can possibly adopt or use it. He treats the general interest in the same way: if he does not benefit alone, the selfish citizen is not interested in engaging himself that everything to the end from his efforts. He is not even interested in the general property, such as the state budget, municipality, ministry or directorate. “It’s not my money,” he says. He is now convinced that protection from the virus is not provided by locking himself inside the walls of his home, nor by personal resources. Defeating the virus depends on everyone, it is everyone’s problem and it requires an awareness of space and general interest. The virus imposes a lack of awareness on the selfish citizen, teaching him that the disease can only be eradicated if everyone is cured, that the state budget is as decisive as the family, that public health is just as important as personal, that respiratory machines in clinics are just as needed as home air conditioners, and that public discipline is more important than that in your house. Therefore, the virus will probably make the selfish citizen realize that the general interest is a protective entity of everyone’s interests separately.

IV. HUMANISM AND SOLIDARITY. People say that good friends are seen in difficult times. Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama initially said that in the global war with the corona virus, every state is alone. Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic criticized the European Union (EU) for not helping his country and praised China and Russia for their help. China and Russia are using the crisis to use “soft power” or “diplomacy-masks” to gain public sympathy and tarnish the EU’s image. The truth is that it is the EU and its countries that are sending initial aid with medical equipment – masks, respirators, clothing and medicine – and economic recovery assistance worth nearly 400m euros to the Western Balkans. North Macedonia and Albania will additionally have access to the European solidarity fund, and as a member of NATO  also in the process of protection and fighting the virus. In addition to humanism and solidarity between people and states, this virus also imposes on us the interpersonal one, the business owner with the worker, the rich with the poor, the seller with the buyer, and the patient with the doctor. These human values ​​in social relations are necessary if it is still hoped that, once the virus is defeated, vitality can be restored. SDSM leader, Zoran Zaev recently proposed a minimum wage for all administration and officials in order to form a solidarity fund. But the government eventually approved pay cuts only for functionaries – because administrators have salaries below the required amount (450 Eur) for the spending basket (500 Eur). This proposal of Zaev, a social democrat, was more like a measure of the ideological right, which is primarily in the interest of businesspersons. Nevertheless, in the case of the corona virus, all the world’s businesspersons donate millions to overcome this situation and do not expect so much from the state for the losses they will have. There are no more left and right ideologies, but health ideologies. This should also be clear to businesspersons in North Macedonia and countries in the region, most of whom have risen by milking the public budget and exploiting the taxpayer’s efforts. After the donation of the pharmaceutical company Alkaloid, this should be done by all successful companies that have received tenders from the state.

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