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Of pandemics and resilience. People, communities and development post Covid-19

Digital format, 14/07/2020, Cross-generation roundtable

The pandemic has unmasked the fragility of our self-assured, globalized, skill-savvy world. Even the most economically advanced countries’ primary response to this unknown virus was a low-tech social distancing, which has necessarily foregrounded the limitations of human action and knowledge.  The Socratic paradox “I know that I do not know” encourages the kind of continuing fortification of basic research that calls for increased funding from the Italian government.

A high level of inequality both domestically and between nations has emerged as the result of the constraints imposed by the health crisis. In some families, parents have been able to work from home and children to go to school on-line; in others, young and old alike have been doomed to isolation for lack of the proper equipment. The economic crisis could further widen this technological gap.

Confronted with such challenges, generative resilience could be the conceptual and practical key to a new development model. Rediscovery of the fundamental value of individual action to halt the spread of the virus can supply impetus to plans for what post-pandemic steps are going to have to be taken.

Generative here refers not only to people, but also to governments and lawmakers. Institutions must be transformed into the midwives of civil society, giving birth to the energies that will support horizontal subsidiarity.

Among the pandemic’s effects, expansion of the digital space is an aspect capable of contributing to a new model for the future. In many companies, the gradual adoption of distance-working programs has been sped up, given the urgency of the situation, and the positive results are an encouragement to accept it now as usual practice – with due moderation to avoid the risk of social alienation.

Intergenerational impartiality is going to be a crucial element in drafting proposals for a future society. Young people, especially Italians, often feel “transparent”, sidelined by a legal, social and economic system that preserves the accumulated privileges of previous generations. The pandemic places this image in painful contrast with that of the fate of elderly, even more invisible virus victims – many of whom lost their lives due to scarce hospital resources – and begs reflection on those channels of wealth that exclude entire segments of the population across all generations.