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“Humanness as our protective shield against COVID-19!” First of December Group launches pandemic appeal

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“Humanness as our protective shield against COVID-19!” First of December Group launches pandemic appeal
Translated by: Christine Chraibi
“The coronavirus is a test of our humanness” states the First of December Group, which launched an appeal to Ukrainians on April 7, 2020.

 Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little until his wrath has passed by.

Isaiah 26:20

As we write these lines, the number of people infected by SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in Ukraine is increasing steadily. The peak of the pandemic is yet to come, just as the most important challenge that we will have to face during this period – the test of our humanness.

Most people have already decided how they will act and behave during the confinement period. Some have begun helping the elderly and disabled or the doctors and nurses who are at the front line. Others are buying and delivering special equipment to different hospitals.

On the other side, some people have readily and cynically enriched themselves by exporting masks, which are lacking in Ukraine, or by importing and reselling defective goods. Others demonstrate their “heroism” by completely ignoring the danger, thus spreading it even further among their loved ones and in their neighbourhood.

Once again, we stand at the crossroads, faced with the eternal choice between good and evil…

As the peak of our trials approaches, we are compelled to seek the path to our heart and soul in order to strengthen them and renew our faith in our ability to cope with this evil… because if we are still deciding whether we should go out or not, tomorrow we will have to face the fact that some loved ones will be buried “remotely”… without our presence.

Italy has gone through this horror, and there is no indication that we will be able to avoid it.

What is happening in Europe should sharpen our survival instincts. The biggest challenges will be faced by people and authorities that are responsible for the survival of our entire social organism: health care systems, state and local governments, social and pastoral care organizations, trade and transport networks, utilities, telephone and Internet communications, as well as funeral homes. It will depend on all of them whether we will be able to stand firm as a single social organism, or, conversely, break up into small fragments, imbued with fear, aggression and selfishness.

Indeed, there may come a time when our social diversity will be reduced to one crucial difference: between people who remain human and those who lose their human likeness.

May this evil pass all of us by! But, he who is warned is spiritually armed. At first glance, a selfish position looks like a life-saver. However, when a social organism is destroyed, the danger increases a hundredfold. Conversely, solidarity, empathy and mutual support are the only lifelines that we should consider and hold on to.

We can all shake hands remotely. If all political antagonisms are put on hold, the first germs of trust will emerge in a joint fight against the pandemic. Epidemiological discipline should not be replaced by abuse of power. The quarantine should isolate us from the virus, not from compassion and kindness towards our fellow man. Any small word of gratitude or support acts as a healing balm. Any word of good humour restores our spiritual balance.

Yes, there will probably be those who will not survive in this fight. But, it is better to replenish a new Heavenly Hundred with those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the good of the community than to die alone, cursing and hating everyone.

We do not yet know what has caused the current viral attack against mankind. We must learn a lesson that we have yet to formulate. However, we know today that we should emerge stronger from this crisis… and the only way to do this is through compassion and humanness.

Because the spiritual criterion for the development of human civilization cannot be found in technological achievements, but in our ability to love others as much as we love ourselves.

The appeal is signed by members of the First December Group – Olha Hnatiuk, Volodymyr Yermolenko, Yevhen Zakharov, Yosyp Zisels, Ihor Kozlovsky, Myroslav Marynovych, Ihor Yukhnovsky and Yaroslav Yatskiv.

The First of December Initiative Group was created on the 20th anniversary of the referendum for the Independence of Ukraine. It includes prominent Ukrainian scholars, intellectuals and cultural personalities.
Translated by: Christine Chraibi
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