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We refuse to die

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

by Yoav Haifawi

I was reading the news about an Italian Priest, Giuseppe Berardelli, who died of Coronavirus after refusing to use a respirator machine especially bought for him by his parishioners, choosing to give it to another patient, whom he didn’t know. According to our Islamic culture, we would call father Giuseppe “shahid”, martyr for a holy cause. In the context of the heroic struggle of our beloved humanity against the Coronavirus, he joined the ranks of martyrs symbolized by Jesus and Che Guevara.

The People’s Resistance Against the Pandemic

In a world preoccupied by internal conflicts and by man-made damage to the environment, the pandemic returns us to the basic conflict that humanity faced from its early days: the struggle with the wild forces of mother nature. The epidemic is very much like old epidemics. But our humanity is changing very fast, and our modern, educated, connected, 21st-century humanity is striving to rewrite the rules of the game.

While we watch in our billions the horrific numbers of infected and dead going up faster by the day, we already achieve one basic new standard: Every person counts! It is not up to the scientists or the historians to count post-mortem the damage, but it is a matter of all of us to be aware of the human toll of the epidemic, as it happens.

By this acute awareness, we set the world’s priorities. The scientists and the doctors, nurses and medical teams that are fighting the virus are our new cultural heroes. The politicians that do not want to do the most to stop the pandemic are the public enemy. We refuse to die!

For the first time we face a major challenge as one humanity. We have many reasons to be proud: From the people in the windows in Wuhan, singing and waving, making the “V” signs with their fingers, to the people in Italy, Catalonia and Spain, singing from their balconies and clapping their hands to thank the medical teams, to the teams of Chinese and Cuban doctors putting their lives in danger to help fight the disease in far-away countries.

And, yes, it is the people’s resistance against the pandemic, in which the voice of each of us counts (either to the side of humanity or to the side of the virus). The initial tendency of the great leaders of the old capitalist order was to avoid fighting the pandemic. After they spent the first two months cynically enjoying the suffering of the Chinese people, trying to throw the blame on the communist party or hoping for some advantage against Chinese competition, they were completely surprised by the fact that we are all humans, the same type of organism, and we are all vulnerable to the virus.

So, after squandering the first two months that should have been utilized for preparations and prevention (not to say helping to stop the epidemic in China), Trump, Boris Johnson, Angela Merkel and their likes thought they can continue with “business as usual”: let people get sick and die. This is what happened in so many previous pandemics. After so many years of sanctifying “economic growth”, who would dare to stop the holy bourse festivities only because some old people are dying?

We already won the first stage of this war – the battle over priorities. We refuse to die. China played a major role in setting a new standard for humanity by stopping the epidemic in its first center before it widely spread worldwide. Now politicians in other nations can’t hide their preference to care for the interests of the capitalists few, at the expense of the lives of millions, behind the will of God or nature or inevitable fate. Every extra death due to the unwillingness to do what is needed to stop the pandemic is the direct responsibility of those making these deadly decisions.

We refuse to die and we will win the struggle against the Coronavirus pandemic… We must!

But the people’s resistance should not stop there. It must continue to lay the foundations for a new world order, putting people’s lives and well being first.

This article first appeared on the Free Haifa Website. Reproduced with permission

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