After almost two months of home confinement, the moment to return to our daily lifes has arrived. Some of us enjoyed the privilege of spending this time thinking and reminding ourselves what really matters — but others lived little, never-ending, daily hells.
For many women, home confinement put them face to face to their assailtants. For many LGBTIQ+ people, and specifically trans people, it put them in hostile family environments. For all health and care workers that have sustained us, it meant indigne working conditions. For a lot more people, it implied the loss of their love ones. And, for all of us, it made us to look directly at social and economic uncertainity produced by the corona crisis.
The virus has reminded us our fragility, and it highlithed all system malfunctions. If home confinement made anything clear, it is that we all had a lifestyle against life itself. Our cities and towns had a hectic pace that pushed us into the edge of madness. Our communities were obliged to be content with the leftovers of an economic system based on exploitation our bodies — and, even more dramatically, other peoples’ and world communities’ bodies, as well as the limited resources from the only planet that supports our existence.
The end of the strictest part of confinement has finally arrived, and Barcelona is entering “phase 1” in an important week for our ecosistem. This Wednesday, May 27th, Spain will have consumed already all resources that the Earth provides us for a whole year, far before other poorer countries — as well as the global average, whose last year´s Earth Overshoot Day was August 2nd. On the other hand, we begin phase 1 having reached already in phase 0 similar air pollution levels that the city had before the confinement. We see that, from this week on, we live in Barcelona above everything the Earth can provide us both in terms of resources and the conditions for a healthy life.
This make us wonder: to which world do we want to return to? Do we want to go back to the daily rush, to mental and physical burn-out caused by a toxic system that attacks us at the personal level and our ecosystems in a material scale? Go back to our old normality, based on extractivism of bodies and ecosystems, identities and worldviews denial because of businesses from the few? Or do we want to return to the “new normality” proposed by governments, where it seems we will mantain confinement rutines added to an abbusive control to justify a “war on the pandemic”?
The only normality we want is otherness
There are more and more people for whom neither the old normality nor the “new normality” seems convincing. We see how the solutions that are coming to us from governments, and our state government, in particular, are not enough to rebuild our society. Let us not forget that fine words about shock plans, social shields and states of alarm will be of no use if the announced measures do not reach the entire population. We are also puzzled to see how the rescues are not reaching those who should be helped, but instead are focusing on rescuing the same old ones.
We need to imagine another reality to which we want to “return”, a diverse space that allows us to rebuild the links between us, our environment and our societies. We have enjoyed a few days of seeing and experiencing the city without overcrowding and with much less pollution. Being able to live this experience helps us and brings us closer to imagining in what direction we can change our cities so that they are healthier, safer and more sustainable for people and our environments, not just for a few days, but for future generations.
We have also been able to observe for ourselves how our retreat at home has brought out the most human part of the city, as if we had remembered that we are, above all, society: the networks of mutual support that we have created in our neighbourhoods have shown us that our ties are stronger than ever. The physical distancing has made us feel the desire to be more united than ever. Let us take advantage of this.
Towards Phase 5: a regenerative society
It is this community support, which we have developed when we have remembered our fragility and the need for joint and urgent action, that can serve us to reflect on our relationship with the world to defend with the same urgency we have faced the virus that which is fundamental: life.
It is a reality that many of us feel blocked or burned out by the situation we are living in. But, just as one cures an illness, as a society we have to take the time to rethink. We need to make the networks of mutual support that we have created in our neighbourhoods the new normality; for the fifth phase of this de-escalation to be that of building a regenerative society.
A society, in short, that has life as a priority and values all the caregiving tasks, towards people and ecosystems, that we had so often forgotten. To do this we have to be brave: if the response to the worst of the pandemic has been found in our neighbours, the fact of building the otherness that has to come will only be achieved if we turn our neighbourhoods into action. Let’s rebuild from the cities, let’s rethink the environment where we want to live!