We are publishing submissions about the COVID-19 crisis from readers daily on New Philosopher in the hope that it can help us all make sense of what is happening, and as a historical record of how it made us feel. Here are your thoughts, from around the world.
By Rob Estreitinho, London, UK
It’s very easy right now to live up to Seneca’s maxim: "we suffer more in imagination than reality". And yet, as we collectively try to get through this in the best possible way, one word that comes to mind is “enough”. Defining, and cultivating, what “enough” means for us. From enough information (as opposed to 24/7 news or tweets), because that’s how we stay sane. To enough supplies (as opposed to mindless hoarding), because that’s how we stay thoughtful. To enough support (as opposed to the law of the jungle), because that’s how we ensure not only that we survive, but find ways to thrive.
This last one goes from governments supporting businesses, to businesses supporting their staff and partners, to people supporting each other. I’ve seen people setting up websites to support local businesses, others offering their services to build ecommerce platforms for said businesses (free of charge). My neighbours have set up a Facebook group to support those in need. I like to think these principles and actions will stick around, in some capacity, after things get more manageable. An embrace of localism. Of mutual appreciation. Of kindness. Because although Western civilization boasts about “individuality”, no one is an island. Our survival has always depended on it.
Three philosophers (loosely defined) have been helping me go through this. First, Stephen Hawking, because the timeframe of his thinking somehow helps me put the present into perspective. Sartre, because "freedom is what you do with what's done to you" reminds me our true nature comes in times of stress. And Maria Popova, because she sees a mix of critical thinking with hope (vs pure cynicism), as the only way to grow. And in the absense of growth (intellectual, emotional, spiritual), there is only decay. We must fight the decay.