Literature always knew it, philosophy knew it, culture knew it, civilization knew it – Man is the measure of everything. Not the economy, not the highways, not the restaurants, not the disco clubs, not the jeeps, not the stadiums, not the debts and interest rates, not even gross domestic product. All this comes later. Man, even in his mortality and vulnerability, in his passions and sadness. And life in all its fragility.
Only in hopeless societies and systems does human life not cost a penny. In the countries where marching citizens greeted their rulers waving from the stands. Or in countries where the persecution of people is first tolerated, then forgottenand finally awarded with orders. In countries where the fire of a dictatorship has gone through to incinerate the value of human life. And also in countries chaotic, corrupt, simulating democracy.
There are all sorts of possible explanations for today’s failure and chaos in dealing with the coronavirus. It could be out of stupidity, lack of authority, and carelessness of the system’s rulers. Because all of a sudden it turned out that the second Coronavirus wave surprised us. In the spring we said we would use the summer and the time we have to get prepared. But someone somewhere voiced this purely Bulgarian saying, “Come on, leave it as it is“. Or “Brother, it’s hopeless, it will always be like that!”.
Thanks to such remarks, the foretold death of several people on the staircase of hospitals became a fact . A man has the right to die with dignity, even when that dignity is continually denied to him in life. That’s where the whole chain of deaths started, shooting us to the first places of fatalities.
We, the Bulgarians collectively have rarely been first in the world in anything. Actually, no, we were. We were “the saddest place in the world.” That’s what “The Economist” called our country in 2010 in a study of its own. Now we’re death champions. From the saddest to the deadliest place, the step isn’t really big.
You can’t be among the first in Europe or in the world in poverty, corruption, dirty air, road deaths, conspiracy theories, and in a pandemic you’re not the first in mortality. You can’t lie about death – it’s not a European institution, you can’t pull wool over her eyes. I’m probably getting too sharp and exaggerating, but so be it. Although, what is not true about it?
The strange thing is that these things do not startle us, we have forgotten how to respond normally, after such “achievements” one should experience a complex, no, simple array of emotions – shame, first of all shame, pain, reflection, mobilization, some attempt at coping.
And we’re going to cover up, laugh, or we’re going to strike brave attitude and say „Come on, the world’s going to tell me who I am”. And we will enjoy the delusion of being “the most ancient people, nation, civilization, the and bring forth the Macedonian question again This always sells well in our country
But why looking for an explanation when failure comes in emergency, faster than an ambulance. At such a time lying about charts with empty beds and thoughtful plans, like we did in late socialism, is cynical. The question is not in the beds – if it were up to this, there are beds in IKEA as well. Where are the schedules and places for vaccination, halls, covered spaces. Where are the minister’s explanations for this ultra-high mortality rate? Why are we late? Where is our enlightened understanding as a society where half of us don’t believe in the virus, in masks, in vaccines.
In 1992, Clinton coined the phrase “The economy, you fool.” But 1992 is now infinitely far away and the world is living through a completely different crisis and drama. Largely because it was mesmerized only by economic growth at all costs. The words are now quite different: “The Man, you fool.” Even that’s already over, after watching reports of millions of minks being killed by gas, extinct species and melting ice to teach us a lesson that it’s all one thing. So the words should be: “Life, you fool.”
A decade ago, at the height of the economic crisis, I tried to make it clear that we are not just made of economics and politics, that there are other, invisible crises that are lying low, but we never talk about them, because governments and the media are sensitive mostly financially.
Everything existential, including culture, they consider a trifle. If our rulers and our society (together) had a different sensibility, we wouldn’t be witnessing what’s happening here and now. Not in this frustration, not in this chaos. Apathy or empathy – that’s the question.