Carlos M. Frota
The year 2020 is approaching the end and we don’t want to look back! Isn’t it true? Exceptional year, this one! For one and half years not visiting children and grandchildren in Europe, summer time avoiding to go out … and … and it was safe! And the discipline bore fruit. And for many months we have been living without fear, anxiety , feeling protected!
Congratulations, Macau SAR government!
The experience of Macau and beyond inspired the content of this text. Everything good or bad is within us, we know. In our intimate experience of being what we are, we know how close these two neighbors are: goodness and its opposite.
With Christmas and the New Year celebrations reminding us that life continues, despite all adversities, I’d like to emphasize here the good things our Faith brings us in these challenging times . And the good things are a special understanding of life itself; and the inextinguishable energy of hope moved by our belief.
The year ends and millions of people worldwide, like survivors of a terrifying sea tempest, approach the shores of the New Year as a promised land, navigating with a new hope. Behind us is the nightmare of the darker days, we think.
In the hearts of Catholics, and all men and women of goodwill, there resonate the words of hope from the Church, even if feelings of deep sadness sometimes prevail, remembering those who were sacrificed by the astonishing spread of the virus. And even more seriously, so to speak, by the obvious unpreparedness or negligence of some foreign leaders and their health structures (in rich countries!) dealing with the pandemic.
This unpreparedness goes beyond technical failures, or political shortcomings. When we see heads of states and governments being infected themselves, the immediate questions arise: how is it possible? What an example for their fellow citizens !
COMPASSION … COMPASSION
But I promised to myself to single out as much as possible the positive side of everything.
One characteristic of human behavior will be remembered from the recent months: the dedication, devotion, compassion demonstrated by doctors and nurses and other paramedical staff, or just common people worldwide, treating elders and youngsters in crowded hospitals and elsewhere. During all these months of extreme attention and caution, Macau was an excellent example of this professional and human behavior.
On the opposite side, in some big foreign countries dealing with important political choices, indifference, selfishness, lack of compassion were punished by citizens. And leaders lost their mandates.
Human tragedies (like that generated by Covid-19) require, even more than in normal situations, responses based not only on technical expertise and political competence but in a human approach coming directly from our common values as human communities. And in his numerous homilies, speeches, messages, and other interventions, Pope Francis always found the exact tone to express the deepest feelings of closeness with grief, mourning and desolation scattered worldwide.
In this same line of thought, the pandemic proved how necessary it is for institutions to be close to the people and their aspirations. And living in Macau, in this precise community, it’s totally justified to commend the local authorities for their excellent example of leadership during these long months that will mark 2020 as a very exceptional year.
THE FUTURE IS SOMBER…
Vaccine or no vaccine, economic recovery to reach the level of 2019 is a very difficult goal.
Pope Francis recommends a serious meditation about the shortcomings of the old economy and the necessity to achieve another degree of fairness in all societies. This is also compassion.