Amidst the chaos and unknown, COVID-19 has brought solidarity to people from around the world to fight for a single cause. Doctors and nurses taking care of patients, business owners closing down their livelihood, students finishing their studies online, parents having to attend to their children in isolation. The world has quickly changed before our very eyes. Wherever you are, you are assuming some responsibilities for your well-being and the well-being of others. That is why the Campaign for Human Responsibilities has put together a collection called the Confinement Diaries. Written by global contributors, our intention is to share people's perspectives from all over the world on responsibilities in line with our Declaration for Universal Human Responsibilities’ four pillars: change, choices, capabilities and community, in several different capacities. Each perspective is unique, and together, shows how all individuals, globally and close to home, are contributing to the collective good in doing their part to combat COVID-19.
We welcome you to read, share, and contribute in this historic period of time.
What I learned from COVID-19
Photo caption: “what I see from my window, Córdoba, Spain” - Carmen Sanchez Jurado
The arrival of the COVID-19 virus in my country, Spain, was shocking. Even though we had been hearing about it and its impact in China (its location of origin) for some time and later in Italy, I was still shocked and overwhelmed when it finally arrived in Spain. That is how I felt, and I believe my family and friends had a similar feeling. Reflecting back on the reason why COVID-19 affected Spain so significantly--I had more than enough time to think about this during confinement--I believe this situation is so extreme and unique in so many different ways that we, Spanish, could not possibly conceive, understand, or accept that something like this was happening and coming our way. It was hard to believe! Even after watching the situation evolve in other countries, we could not believe it could happen to us. Personally, when I saw the problem in other countries, far away from home, I did not think the virus could reach my small town in the south of Spain. That is something I feel guilty about.
The Spanish government has emphasized the fact that “this virus does not understand country borders, or barriers of any kind.” That is why I believe COVID-19 actually made us--the whole world--feel closer, even when social distancing and confinement measurements were imposed. Seeing people go through the same suffering and worries strengthened the feeling of belonging, to our communities and to the global village that is the world. When we go to our balconies at the rigorous 8 o’clock to applaud the excellent and brave jobs that the medical staff and essential workers still perform to fulfill their duties and responsibilities, there is an atmosphere of closeness with our neighbors. We are all in this together, and we all have different responsibilities during this crisis. At first, this concept was difficult for us, Spanish, to understand, but we then realized that, to be a good citizen and do the right thing, which in this case is to keep everyone--not just yourself--safe, we should stay at home.
#stayathome for you, for me, for everyone.
#yomequedoencasa’ por ti, por mi, por todos.
Staying at home has given me pause to think and reflect about the COVID-19 situation, as well as what my role and responsibilities are and how I could help during this period and in the future. I learned a few things I would like to share with you:
- First, I learned that we should listen and value more the advice of scientists, prioritizing health policies and research. We should also become more aware and engaged with what happens in other parts of the world, because it also affects us.
- Second, I re-learned that each of us is responsible for their own mental health and that, before we can help other people, we need to help ourselves. When confinement was first imposed in Spain, all I could do was worry about the fact that I could no longer go out. During normal times, whenever I feel anxiety, nervousness or anger, I go for a run, to the gym, or to a bar to talk with a friend. But, I could not do any of those things anymore, so my mood was not the best during the first couple of weeks of confinement. I had to reinvent my daily routine to face my new emotional burdens and keep a healthy state of mind. After taking some days off to reorganize myself, I finally started to reduce my level of stress. Now, it sounds easy, but it really was not. It is an ongoing process, and I tried a little bit of everything. At some point or another, I was a yogi, cooker, reader, Skype-happy hour enthusiast, etc. I learned to value mental health even more than before, and I learned to take care of myself in new, different ways.
- Third, I learned that it is our civic duty to help others in need and that there is always something that we can do to help. During this difficult period, I watched people struggle in different ways: anxiety, loneliness, lack of affection, economic hardships, unemployment, fear of contracting the virus (mostly the elderly), etc. I could do nothing and feel powerless that I myself cannot hire someone who was just laid off, or I could try and support them in the best way I can. Even if all I can do is listen to someone’s problems, I learned that this too can make a huge difference. Even if our abilities are restricted, there is always something we can do to help.
Last and yet very important, I learned more about personal accountability in the global context. At the beginning of this diary entry, I mentioned I was overwhelmed by the situation and the consequences of COVID-19. I was not only referring to its negative sides, but also to its positive ones. I was overwhelmed by the incredible amount of solidarity and kind gestures that followed. I have never seen the world so interconnected and willing to help one another as it is right now. What I learned from COVID-19 is that, no matter the distance, barriers or obstacles, all of us can contribute something to our communities, support one another, care about one another, and be willing to improve ourselves as global citizens in order to make our world a better place to live in.
The planet is already thanking us for the significantly less waste in rivers and beaches and the cleaner air. 👏
Carmen Sánchez Jurado | June 5th, 2020
The views expressed in this entry are solely the responsibility of the author.
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