I never thought I’d say this and yet, here we are — the whole of Italy is now officially on lockdown due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The dominant feeling in the country is that of overwhelming uncertainty.
The lock-down paradox
The last time I experienced a similar decree taking force was during the Martial Law in Poland in 1981. Back then, it was the Polish communist government that drastically restricted normal life in an attempt to crush political opposition. Now, it’s the Italian government taking a bold decision to slow down the spread of the virus and to save lives.
The strange thing with the martial law back then — and the lock-down in Italy right now — is that, paradoxically, social distancing ended up bringing people closer together.
We are in this together
In extreme circumstances, we band together. We snap right back into our most primal modus operandi — we become tribal again.
There’s a sense of solidarity and caring for one another. The alienating effects of our busy lives loosen their grip on us and we experience something that we consistently miss in our modern society — camaraderie, a feeling that we are in this together.
We stop chasing chimeras for a moment and focus on what matters instead.
We ask: “Are you all right?,” or “Do you need anything?” — and, perhaps for the first time in a long while, we really mean it.
This sense of solidarity, almost tribal unity, is one of the most significant potential upsides of any crisis. Perhaps that’s why soldiers miss the war and my parents’ generation still feels occasional pangs of nostalgia for their lives under the communist regime. We thrive in a crisis because we are wired to be connected, to care for one another, to come together in times of difficulty.