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August 2020

Is Mother Nature a Serial Killer?

During these quarantine days, I watched one of those movies that became trendy with the pandemic. In this movie, one of the actors who plays the role of an infectious disease physician says to the film’s protagonist: – “Mother Nature is a serial killer. No one’s better or more creative. But like all serial killers, she cannot help the urge to want to get caught. What good are all those brilliant crimes if no one takes the credit? And so, she leaves crumbs. Now, the hard part is seeing the crumbs. But the clue’s there. Sometimes the thing you thought was the most brutal aspect of the virus, turns out to be the chink in its armor. And she loves disguising her weaknesses as strengths. She’s a bitch.”

We have all been wondering about the origin of this virus and this pandemic. For many, its origin has a name and a place and results, in large part, from eating and hygiene habits that necessarily must be changed for the sake of a global and interconnected world. For others, the pandemic results from the permanent underestimation by governments and government officials about the seriousness of the situation; and finally there are those who attribute a sort of “punishment” character to it as a result of the harmful behavior of the great part of humanity in relation to our planet.

But one thing is certain, the Coronavirus pandemic has irreversibly shaken the status quo and has shown how unprepared we are for the unpredictable. Coronavirus has made important problems of our current societies very visible, such as the lack of preparation of many of our leaders for a crisis of this nature; has shown the deep economic and social inequalities of our societies; or even the individualism or lack of collective awareness about the common good that we should all have.

Michael Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization (WHO) emergency program, recently said that Coronavirus does not work alone. To be successful, Covid-19 needs help, help from societies with poorly structured and developed governances, from societies and populations poorly educated and, above all, with individualistic behaviors. The European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides, expressed her concern regarding the increase in cases of Covid-19 in several countries in Europe, blaming the populations that showed some “complacency and negligence”, namely in the strict compliance with basic education rules, such as social distancing, the use of masks and hygiene.

But not everything is bad news. Pandemic has forced us to rethink our priorities and to give importance to what really matters. There are countless cases that I have witnessed first-hand from top level executives who referred to me how important it has been to reconnect with their roots and, above all, with their families, especially with their children, understanding their fears, anxieties and dreams as never before and being able to help them.

The wave of solidarity and human warmth that we have witnessed all over the world demonstrates that it is possible to help without asking for anything in return (and here I leave my most sincere tribute to all health professionals directly or indirectly involved in the fight against Coronavirus and to all those who with small gestures brought happiness and company to those who needed it).

Today we see the importance that freedom of movement has for all of us and how important is to preserve it; the value we give to that hug that we didn’t give when we could; also that it is possible to live on less or how important is to be with those who really care for us and not living artificially for others as the constant posting on social networks got us used to as if our intention was to change Descartes’ philosophical maxim from: “I think therefore I am” to “I post therefore I am”.

We need to adapt to this new reality and faster than ever. But at the same time, we have the opportunity to bring new best practices and new habits that really make the difference for the better as the old way of doing things no longer works.

We all must learn our lessons from this Covid-19 crisis and, while scientists and researchers around the world are looking for a cure for this disease, we need to reflect on the lessons learned. More than a Serial Killer, Mother Nature, like any mother who cares for her children, is wise and disciplinarian and once again brings us new lessons whether we apply them or not. But until when will we have this possibility?

* This is a personal opinion article based on some of my findings during these past months of home confinement.