Dear friends from Chile, I am writing to you from New York that regarding the infected and dead of COVID-19, it is the future, your future. Much of what they are going to live we already lived here and, although we are very far from the exit, some of the experience here suffered may serve them to live better this challenge that in a unique way we have to live.
New York is like Santiago, a highly segregated city with a cumbersome private healthcare system that complicates what should be simple (in the US, all federal responses to a global problem are complicated). The only difference is that the poor do not live for miles, and are not separated by gardens from the wealthy (as in Chile), which explains the speed with which the virus spread and took lives in both cities (something that anyone more or less informed could have calculated). But in New York, as in Santiago, social distance is not a problem of choice but has to do with living conditions.
There are many who cannot “telework”, let alone stop, and these live close to each other and can only catch it. In the end, a city is an integral whole: neither New York nor Santiago can fight a virus that travels so quickly in a segregated manner without understanding that the healthy today are the sick tomorrow, and vice versa.
New York has never been placed in a supervised quarantine, but it has closed everything essential and He expected the worst and the worst happened. For weeks the news was appalling. The governor Andrew Cuomo He had the strength to communicate it coldly, without giving any false hope. New York healthily stopped listening to Trump and getting angry at his criminal delusions. He concentrated on saving those he could save and dismissing those he could not save without extreme sentimentality.
He waited and continues to wait with a certain rudeness, with a certain courage without whom living this is impossible. He shielded himself against false news and illusory hopes. He dug mass graves and looked at the figures day by day, without making the natural hesitations of one day or another a reason for hope or despair. Millions of jobs were lost, the city does not know how or when it will be resurrected, but wait by clenching your teeth, because it is the only thing you can do.
Goodbye to wars tweeters, goodbye to the meager pleasure of having or not being right. Now you have to survive, know that the worst is coming, but that having COVID-19 is not much less, if we take care of hospital beds, an obligatory death sentence. There are more, much more, those who will not die, so we must leave all the place to those who could die and know for sure how many they are and where they are. All countries that have applied sentiment to the fight against infection (Italy) have failed, all those that have applied intelligence have succeeded (South Korea).
We also have to know that death is part of life and that the dignity we give to it depends on us. Let’s be worthy, let’s be brave, let’s be cold, let’s look at the data and not the wishes. Let’s not put all our fears in the COVID-19 account.
Let’s also take care not to go crazy. This is a dangerous virus but it is not by far the most dangerous that our civilization has faced (some people who were born in the midst of the 1918 Spanish flu live). Let’s be wise, let’s not expect miracles or Armageddon. This is not a punishment for our sins, nor is it contagious or has nothing to do with your courage, goodness or inner strength. The virus is not moral, nor is hunger. Let’s fight from what we are, not from what we should be.
New York waited patiently and continues to wait. This virus is hopeless but we have learned to manage and predict it. We are not eliminating it but we are domesticizing it. Let’s trust that infinite human capacity to tame. We are not destined to die or save ourselves but to try to understand. Understanding will give us answers.
We have science, history, art, philosophy to put our pain in its proper measure. That and only that will save us. From the future I tell you that it works.
* A few weeks ago Rafael Gumucio had an accident with his bicycle and broke both wrists, so he had to spend a few days hospitalized in a pandemic. This text was published on your Facebook account and is reproduced with your permission.