We’re running out of civic spirit more than masks

Diary of a Sicilian living in Lombardy: “I decided not to go back home. We have to be responsible”

MILAN. It all happened in the blink of an eye. We fell into a surreal scenario, like in the best of the apocalyptic movies. The city symbols, the Duomo and the Alla Scala theatre, closed to the public. We were totally unprepared for it and an unobstructed anxiety prevailed over us. Thus, people just wanted to buy a flight and go back home, also because their worried families have been bombarding them with calls. Meanwhile, the news was continuously illustrating what was already a general obsession: from the empty supermarkets as in I Am Legend to stocks of masks and disinfectants on their last legs. Everything occurred in just 24 hours, without anybody having the time to realize what was happening. But then, people lucidly understood that, in such an emergency, they should rely on their civic spirit more than needing time to think.

These days more than ever, Italy needs to rediscover the importance of responsibility and the spirit of cooperation. Certainly, the first step is trust in political choices, in the health system and in those who, in these hours of panic, devote all of themselves to face the emergency. But that alone is not enough, which is why I decided not to go back to Sicily despite my classes at University being suspended for a week. After all, nobody can be certain that they have not contracted the virus, so that containing mobility is the most prudent, unselfish and responsible choice to make. Avoiding emptying supermarkets and buying masks and disinfectants in a frenetic way can similarly improve the status quo. In the first case you will avoid witnessing scenes of famine, in the second you will limit the lack of goods which may be essential for elderly and immunodepressed people. I’m worried that behind this irrational behavior a profound individualism is hidden: a current leit­mo­tiv of our time, that now has just been inflated.

This Coronavirus emergency highlights how unprepared Italy really is, not in terms of the political decisions to make or from a sanitary point of view, but in facing it with a civic spirit. And this is the real defeat for all of us.

Translated by Daniela Marsala

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