Today is March 17th, 2020. By now, the corona pandemic has paused public life all over Europe. As of today, the WHO reports over 170,000 confirmed cases and just over 7,000 deaths. Stock markets are crashing, shops are closing, and companies are struggling to adapt to the changing boundary conditions on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. Earlier today, Volkswagen and Opel announced to shut down production facilities in Europe to cope with the crisis.
Today is March 15, 2020. By now, the corona pandemic has far-reaching consequences for public and private life around the globe. As of today, the WHO reports over 150,000 confirmed cases and almost 6,000 deaths. Countries and companies are issuing travel bans; theaters, music halls, cinemas, gyms, restaurants, and shops as well as schools and daycare facilities are closing down.
The crisis is creating an enormous workload for many: Healthcare professionals are working 24/7, caring for those infected (as well as for other patients) and engaging in research to find a cure or a vaccine.
These days, many sad and worrisome things are happening in various places all over the planet. Human beings are committing arbitrary (or non-arbitrary) acts of violence, hurting and killing other human beings – from random individuals to groups of dozens and hundreds. Political structures that we were accustomed to consider solid foundations for a free society are crumbling – from erosive tendencies across Europe and the European Union to the political rise of obviously unpredictable and most likely dangerous individuals in a growing number of countries around the world.
Around the world, day after day, human beings are being killed by other human beings. Most of us are emotionally affected by this observation – and even more so when such killing happens in our immediate physical or mental vicinity, in some kind of “it could have been me (or: my parents, brothers, sisters, partner, children, friends)” situation. Mostly, I’m assuming, because generally noone wants to be killed or experience the killing of a loved one. Also, maybe, because generally noone wants to be reminded of the fact that we all eventually die
A plane crashed in the French Alps, and 150 people died. This is horrible. Of course – as with all catastrophes and tragedies these days – media (especially in Germany) are full of news, reports, and comments. Social media buzz with meta-comments on those news, reports, and comments. Reactions cover the full range of human emotions and attitudes, reflecting people’s own “Betroffenheit” or “Empörung” (symptomatic in their untranslatability), as well as people’s “Betroffenheit” or “Empörung” with regard to other people’s reactions.
Why do we – including myself writing this blog post right now – feel not only the urge to talk about what happened, but also the urge to think about (and comment on) what other people might think, feel, and say about it?