A Sci-fi Movie of Which We Will Write the Ending

The founder of the SES Equality and Solidarity Association, Gülseren Onanç, wrote about the political impact of the corona pandemic globally and how the future should be built thereafter.

Gülseren Onanç

We are like the actors of a sci-fi movie. The scenario develops as follows: A virus spreading from China locks down the people on Earth at home, thousands of people die, economies collapse. Cities lose their souls; people first lose their jobs and then their hopes. States want people to stay at home, using the virus as an excuse. People become lonely, start to look at each other with suspicion, take refuge in their inner circle. Fear and anxiety become the dominant emotions. The characters like Arthur in the movie of Joker multiply. Who will determine our next role as the actors of this script, which turned out to be a thriller? How will this film continue and reach an end. We all agree that nothing will be the same, but no one knows how it will be.

Last night, we came together as women politicians, public employees and civil society representatives from 24 different countries of the world. Everyone, without exception, feels anxiety, fear, and loneliness. Unemployment is rising, it will increase further after the crisis, youth unemployment is estimated to reach 32%. Poverty is increasing and will increase even more. This process will increase migration which will lead to a bigger refugee issues. Women from all over the world would be the major victims of this process. Violence against women and poverty are increasing in all countries.

While I was pondering on the question of how this disaster was not to be foreseen, I saw an article in Nautilus magazine on Dennis Carroll: “The man who saw the pandemic coming.” He is the founder of a program that studies diseases that will spread from animals to the world. Supported by the governments of Bush and Obama between 2005 and 2019, this program performed its function through scientists sharing their knowledge. The Trump administration ended this program in 2019.

Dennis Carroll attributes two main reasons for the spread of viruses. The first reason is the world population growth rate; the world population has increased by 6 billion people in the last century. At the end of the 21st century, 4-5 billion more people will be added. This density is damaging the larger ecosystem. The spread of these viruses increases as people enter the lives of animals more and more. The second reason is the inertia of states and societies and their inability to adapt themselves to the changing world. Carroll, also appeared on the TV series Pandemic on Netflix says, “The spread of a virus was foreseen, and nothing had been arranged accordingly. I am amazed to see that there is no global dialogue against such a global event. ”

The humanity is facing an important test. We will either change this unsustainable order together or we will sail for much bigger crises together. Our world has the wealth and knowledge to combat this crisis. What we need is an inclusive, restorative, unifying, understanding of leadership that protects the vulnerable.

At this point, unfortunately, our world was caught unprepared for this crisis. During this process, in which the citizens have to surrender to the state authority in the face of the virus, and the security forces are involved in civil life, the authoritarian governments want to consolidate their power by intensifying their nationalist tendencies. In Hungary, Orban got the approval, which permits unrestricted use of decrees in decision-making. And we see that the government in Turkey increased its repressive and arbitrary practices. The President of Philippine, Duterte called on the police to shoot those who did not comply with quarantine measures. In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu empowered security units to use surveillance technology in the country. When it comes to health, the state’s surveillance of the citizens’ life began to be perceived as normal. The cameras that followed every step of the citizens to follow coronavirus in China showed us that Orwell’s 1984 novel could be real. In the article that the prominent thinker Yuval Noah Harari wrote for the Financial Times recently, he says that this surveillance process will not only affect our health but it will also affect policies, economy and culture. Harari talks about the possibility of consolidation of authoritarian regimes in the world, when the corona crisis is over. Even the European Union, the most advanced civilisation system in the world, acted in a way that is contrary to its values ​​in the face of this crisis. Italy, who needed the most help, was left alone.

On the other hand, the coronavirus also led to positive developments. In order to combat unemployment and poverty, social assistance was increased in European countries and in the States, and it was understood that the health industry should be under state regulation. The voices of health workers that had not been heard until yesterday have become audible. Distance education was initiated, and parents were able to see closely what their children were taught in the curriculum. The Minister of Education in Turkey had to apologise following the reaction of the parents who saw the footage of Menderes’ execution. The value of scientists is more appreciated.

We all realised that humanity is not omnipotent; it is weak in the face of nature’s great ecosystem.

Now we know: If the virus comes and finds us even when we close our doors, roads, airports and borders, if we have no place to escape, humanity has no chance other than to cooperate for a more liveable world. We will overcome this crisis more quickly if Chinese scientists share information with Americans, Italian doctors with Iranians, and South Koreans with the British. Today is the day for rich countries to help the poor ones and neighboring countries protect each other.

Humans need one another; countries need one another. In order to maintain our existence, we have to live in peace with our country, region and world.

Moreover, times of crises provide an important opportunity for us to rebuild trust that we have lost for a long time. In the meeting last night with women politicians and public employees from different countries of the world, the demand and potential of solidarity were expressed. A new wave of solidarity is created, that leads to supporting elderly people and staying at home to protect each other. Support for aid campaigns is increasing. The images of deprivation in refugee camps hurt us more than ever. Humanity is looking for ways to channel its potential to do kindness. We published an article on many different ways of acting with solidarity at SES Equality Justice Women Platform.

It is in our hands how this horror movie of which we are reluctantly in, will end. As people who better understand how much we need each other, we can rebuild social peace in our country. As active citizens who rely on themselves, their neighbours, and society without surrendering to authoritarian powers, we can conclude this movie with a “happy ending” that we can all be proud of.

We can compose a happy prelude for the next generations.

10 Nisan 2020