Since December 2019 until this day, the world has been witnessing historical milestones. More than 100 countries are busy treating thousands of patients infected with the coronavirus, undertaking whatever preventative measures possible and meanwhile seeking to stop the haemorrhaging caused by the economic decline as a result of the imposed quarantine. This is also due to the almost complete halt of air travel, tourism and internal work. Since we are living in a “small village world”, it has been easy to follow the events of the coronavirus pandemic in its various forms and with its escalating developments.
Social networking sites that contributed to the spread of the Arab Spring revolutions in early 2011, are the same ones that are conveying the new revolution that the world has been experiencing in the beginning of 2020. It is a revolution against fragile leadership and regimes that are no longer fit for governance. Countries are like people, who we can only truly know during difficult situations, since the coronavirus has proved to everyone that financial globalisation and immoral democracy are useless in protecting people and defending their rights. There is an urgent need to search for a world order that is born from the wound of suffering and enhances the health of the people and their exploited humanity.
At the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, the world was shocked by the images of people in some Western countries rushing and scrambling out of fear to buy as much food and cleaning supplies as possible. Many asked: “Could this really be the civilised world of culture, art and technology? Where is the humanity that pushes people towards solidarity and helping others?” With the circulation of images online, people were even more shocked when they saw two women physically fighting over toilet paper, in a scene seemingly from a movie. These actions harm humanity.
While people are astonished by these images and are awaiting what is yet to come, Italy is being overwhelmed by the number of coronavirus cases, exposing the weakness of its allies and the deception of its friends. People wonder: “Where is the US? Why isn’t it helping Italy, a fellow NATO member? What is the EU’s role in what is happening in Italy? Why don’t the countries work together to fight this virus? Why are the major countries, such as the US, only looking out for themselves? Doesn’t this suggest that the world has lost its moral system? Why isn’t there true cooperation in exchanging information and medical experience, in order to rid mankind of this pandemic?”
The lens is then pointed to the behaviour of the countries, acting like pirates, who do not hesitate to violate the rights of others, purely out of selfishness and personal interest. According to Italian media, Italy was subjected to theft by its Czech neighbour, reporting that the authorities in Prague confiscated thousands of medical masks sent from China to Italy. However, the Czechs stated that they had seized the masks as part of an operation against smugglers.
Spiegel Online announced the disappearance of six million medical masks sent as protection against the coronavirus from a Kenyan airport, while the masks were on their way to Germany. In another scene, the Tunisian minister of trade announced in local press statements a robbery that took place in the sea on a cargo ship carrying rubbing alcohol for Tunisia from China, which was diverted to Italy.
This brand of selfishness that states reflect in their behaviour, and the psychological disturbances that we have seen in the behaviours of individuals in some countries, are the product of a political and cultural system rooted in the souls of people and their ways of life. It is a system whereby material importance has taken over spiritual necessity. In light of the coronavirus, people are looking for psychological security and spiritual reassurance, which can only be achieved through a global system that is honest with itself, reconciled with its human nature and in harmony with both its spiritual and material needs.
In his interview with the US website Truthout, US philosopher Noam Chomsky stressed that although the pandemic had been predicted long before its emergence, actions to prepare for this crisis were banned by the cruel requirements of an economic order in which: “There’s no profit in preventing a future catastrophe.” Chomsky also noted that scientists have warned of a pandemic since the SARS epidemic in 2003, and that there was enough time to take the necessary precautions. He added: “Ventilator shortage exposes the cruelty of neoliberal capitalism and the failure of the US.”
The coronavirus pandemic has proven that the world today is without real leadership, and by leadership, I do not only mean the possession of military power or material tools, but the ability to fill the spiritual void, examining the intellectual side and reinforcing moral values. Therefore, those possessing these principles must take initiative to build a global alliance based on cooperation between parliamentary, intellectual, cultural and medical institutions, to create a balanced world in its various aspects, capable of ridding itself of this chaos.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.