Reflections From Spain in a Time of Epidemic

I have reached out to our fellows asking for their thoughts and advice on the larger moral and practical aspects of the current unexpected and intrusive circumstances associated with the emergence and spread of the coronavirus.

From Spain, both Domingo Sugranyes Bickel and Professor Jose-Luis Fernandez-Fernandez have just sent me very thoughtful comments which I would like to share with you. Please see their contributions to all of us below.

Observations by Domingo Sugranyes Bickel
Former President, Fondazione Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice
Rome, Italy

In this country, as in many others, political polarization seemed like a blind alley, a cul-de-sac! An outside enemy – and, fortunately, not a human enemy – is changing the game. That could be positive.

The sheer complexity of practical problems posed by confinement opens the way for a wide variety of subjects in the media. Suddenly, attention is focused on an immense variety of things which normally work without nobody paying attention, in public administration, in business, in all kinds of services. This again is a positive effect: it reconciles us with complexity and compels us to avoid ideological simplification.

We used to complain about young people being like isolated, socially impoverished beings with their smart phone as their only centre of attention. We have grandchildren in Spain, Italy and Belgium, they are all actively involved now in virtual working groups for schoolwork or play. It is just a new channel for rich group initiatives.

I feel alarmed, not only for many lonely elderly people, but also for all those modern slaves – think about human trafficking, prostitution – which means thousands of people probably abandoned by their ‘customers’ and their bosses, due to confinement…

A Decalogue Concerning the Global Consequences of SARS-COV-2
Quick Thoughts from José-Luis Fernández-Fernández
Iberdrola Chair in Economics and Business Ethics, Universidad Pontificia Comillas
Madrid, Spain

This unprecedented situation brings some pointed realities to my mind:

We live in a really small, interconnected world.

Reality has kicked out from under us definitively a kind of fantasy of omnipotence that seems linked to our technological potency at the beginning of the 21st Century.

The axiological order of values appears again crystal clear: primum vivere, deinde philosophari…, i.e., first of all, live; afterwards, the rest follows: things and worries, business, economics, leisure… even philosophizing.

We should act all together in search of the common good, putting special emphasis in helping those who are in less advantaged situations.

We should try and take advantage of this unusual, dramatic situation. This “exceptionality” can serve us indeed as a general rehearsal for possible future scenarios, where we will confront compulsory struggle, for instance, against climate change or another type of global threat.

The destiny of humankind is something holistic: there can be no salvation in isolation.

We need to learn how to collaborate among races, peoples, religions and cultures; going much more beyond the economic order, to entering the real path towards fraternity and humanitarianism.

Reality always surprises us, going even further beyond our wildest fantasies, because tomorrow has not been written. We have to construct it with theoretical effort and goodwill, guided from practical wisdom.

We must recognize our freedom as the anthropological dimension that, together with conscience and will, converts us into moral subjects, able to act either according to the highest ethical standards or without any moral values.

Education in ethics and values should be compulsory, not only in formal training, but also in all sorts of cultural contexts that could be amplified by social networks.

The spiritual dimension of human life must be reinforced and cultivated within every religion, from respect for every humanitarianism, cultural tradition and context through good examples and best practices.