As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, we published submissions about from our readers on in the hope that it could help us all make sense of what was happening, and as a historical record of how it made us feel. Here are your thoughts, from around the world – you can read each full piece via the links, as well as many more submissions from readers here.

Stephanie Panayi, Melbourne, Australia: Paraphrasing Saint Paul, words without love are like a clanging bell. Yet Dionysian emotions are more disturbing than beatific if not channelled through reason; if not given context and meaning. Just as we might have been lost in an Apollonian world of routine and functionality before this current storm, our challenge now might be how to extricate ourselves from an emotional mire. Read more

Mariana Gaitán Rojas and Filip Vostal, Prague, Czech Republic: Despite the unconventional circumstances, we are dealing with boredom in the most conventional of ways. We find solace in social media, video games, and TV shows. We search for something new and interesting, forgetting that, as Svendsen comments in his Philosophy of Boredom, “'interesting' always has a brief shelf-life, and really no other function than to be consumed, in order that boredom can be kept at arm’s length”. Read more

Alkis Gounaris and Konstantinos Gravas, Athens, Greece: Let us always bear in mind that every crisis is an opportunity. An opportunity to think, to get to know and evaluate ourselves and those around us better. An opportunity to mature, to grow into adulthood, to make a practical contribution, to move from theory to practice, to care for, respect and trust fellow humans, science and institutions, and to understand how fragile, vulnerable and valuable life is. Read more

Erica Greenop, Sydney, Australia: Tomorrow, when the world is back on track, I might notice none of this has any relevance to anything at all. But the world isn’t back on track. I had news last week that an old colleague – old as in my age, old as in we were friends, way back in 1959 – has died of the virus. She leaves an elderly husband and four adult children and numerous grandchildren. She was adored. I am thinking of their grief, their sadness, their pain. Their loneliness. The unwanted terrifying reminder of the frailty of being human. The silence of death. I tried to capture that in words. Read more

Colby Prout, Nevada, USA: We are nameless characters living in the backdrop of a dystopic novel. Facemasks, and self-quarantining. We are all trying to glean meaning, or derive virtue from this ludicrous event in our lives. Many of us claim that this virus is a lesson, or an indictment of a way of life. Depending on which virus origin story you believe, that may be true. But absent such a clear origin, can any meaning be derived out of this absurd contingency? My mind drifts to human history, our own origins, and our place in nature. Read more

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. Read more

Pauline Yap, South Australia: While social distancing is beneficial in safeguarding the majority, such practices may dissolve into ‘social isolation’, holding captive one of humanity’s most prized possessions – human touch. Virtual interactions brought about by advances in technology are good measures for restricting viral transmissions but these interventions lack the same offerings as physical interactions – hands to hold, warm hugs to embrace and a peace of mind whilst sitting next to others on public transport! The reduced human connection poses threats especially to the mental wellbeing of those who are not technologically savvy. Read more

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