The pandemic defined the 2020 of all humanity. And it may have changed it forever. Let’s start with the fact that the damn virus took away that part of us that allows lives to end nobly: the goodbye and the hug. Then it took time away from us. It put us on hold for months, when development needed to be kept alive the most. The States showed up and condemned us to our homes.
Yuval Noah Harari warned of the dilemma between security and privacy. But there is no dilemma. There can be no security if our privacy has been violated. Now they scan our temperature wherever we go. They ask us where we were, what we felt. The world has changed forever, Kissinger said in the Wall Street Journal. And Harari also alerted us to another danger: we have a moral and human obligation to prevent this crisis, in which we once clamored for strong states, from turning into a future dominated by Big Brother.
Security versus privacy. The real dilemma is everything versus freedom. And today it is in danger. Because systems that offer order over the free development of individuals have been reinforced. Order by imposing the criteria of a group of bureaucrats who believe they know what is best for people’s health. And this transcends flags and colors. Governments of the left and the right agreed to sacrifice human freedom in order to bet on the protection of their governed. This, despite the countless studies that refute the idea that the draconian closure of cities saves people.
After more than ten months of the pandemic, the first conclusion is clear: none of the governments had the formula for success. But it went better for those who did not immolate everything because they feared a sermon from some international organization taken over by China. And here is the second conclusion: China is the greatest threat humanity faces today.
Not only did China pile up hundreds of thousands of Uighurs in concentration camps and rabidly persecute human rights activists. Their harassment of freedoms within their borders should be intolerable to those of us in the West who believe in human dignity. The crushing of Tibet, but above all the criminal takeover of the once free Hong Kong, should provoke decisive reactions from this side of the world. And there is, in our interest, what has occurred outside its borders. The world today suffers from the not-so-accidental irresponsibility of the communist regime in containing the coronavirus. With increasing penetration into the West, China is an indomitable danger.
Its martyrs are also ours. Because the doctor and journalist persecuted by the Xi Jinping dictatorship did not try to inform their country of the dangers of the virus. They tried to inform us.
Today it is the only booming economy and the only favored country. Amen to the misfortunes of the rest, China is growing. That’s why we need to get stronger than ever. Weakness in the face of enemies, which begin with China but continue with Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Turkey and Russia, ties our hands and exposes us to be devoured, many times from within. And there is the United States.
The future is not so encouraging. We will have at least four years of a warm and fragile White House in the eyes of those who aspire to undermine the world’s largest republic. That’s at best. At worst, the eventual Joe Biden administration could be an ally of its own adversaries. To a far more dramatic extent than the Obama administration, we would witness, on our knees, an America that sacrifices the world on the altar of undesirable agreements with Iran, China or Chavism.
But this offers us an opportunity. Never before has it been so necessary for those of us who believe in the same values to redouble our efforts. And in part, to do so, El American was born.
I’ll stick to the latter. Because it was a difficult year. I started it in New York and finish it in Medellin. Better, despite the infrequent of that with so much that has happened. In great part better because El American was born. It is the future and it is to redouble those efforts that I speak of. Let’s write, talk and shout. We have to stick to what Yan Lianke told his students at the University of Hong Kong:
“If we can’t speak out loudly, then let us be whisperers. If we can’t be whisperers, then let us be silent people who have memories. Having experienced the start, onslaught, and spread of Covid-19, let us be the people who silently step aside when the crowd unites to sing a victory song after the battle is won—the people who have graves in their hearts, with memories etched in them; the people who remember and can someday pass on these memories to our future generations.”
Let’s not forget this year.