The Uncertainty of Pandemic

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Cristian Peralta, SJ

 Cristian Peralta, SJ / Church Life / 25 May 2021


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The silent spread of Covid-19 took local and international authorities by surprise. Its arrival highlighted the scandalous absence of effective policies for the prevention and management of contagious diseases, the enormous inequalities that exist in the world, and the lack of coordination of health strategies on a global scale.[1] The threat of the invisible and unknown virus has sown fear among populations, bewilderment and a profound feeling of vulnerability.

We have all begun to realize with unusual clarity how fragile we are physically and psychologically, but the collapse of health systems and economies, changes in habitual behaviors, employment insecurity, social distancing and, above all, the awareness of death as an imminent possibility have all created in the world a generalized climate of incertitude and uncertainty.

Now we ask ourselves: does this uncertainty have its origin in the current pandemic situation, or has it only been reinforced by it? In other words, is the lack of certainty we are experiencing something new, or had we previously prepared the ground from which it has now exploded with such force on a personal and social level? Does this situation, which is described in generalized terms, take for granted that we all share the same uncertainty? These are questions that must be answered in an interdisciplinary way, and that is how we will now address them.

Let us begin by setting out the premises that support our argument. First of all, we must recognize that many inhabitants of our planet have found themselves for many years – too many years – mired in the uncertainty caused by poverty, marginalization, precariousness and social exclusion. Secondly, “liquid modernity,” wherever it is present with its multiple social and individual dynamics, causes a constant state of uncertainty in a large part of the population. In other words, the uncertainty that today envelops us in a generalized way due to the health crisis has found a sociocultural humus in which to take root, and therefore, if we intend to seek a solution to this crisis, we must look beyond overcoming the viral threat we are facing today and formulate responses that recognize the diversity of current uncertainties and the social structures that feed and foster them.

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