Sunday, April 05, 2020

Dra. Valeska V. Geldres Weiss: COVID-19 Reflections; "A Time for us to reflect and prepare" [Reflecciones; Tiempo para prepararnos]

(Henri Rousseau, La Guerre dit aussi La Chavauchée de la Discorde (vers 1894; Musée D'Orsey, Paris))

Some people have begun to speak of this time as a portal.  "Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it." (Arundhati Roy, "The Pandemic is a Portal," Financial Times (3 April 2020))

What the Chinese Communist Party understood as a "New Era" whose national contours emerged after 2012 and the start of the leadership of Xi Jinping; what the Americans experienced as a "new era" the expression of which exploded around a complacent ruling group in 2016 with the election of Donald Trump to the US Presidency; What emerged around the same time in India, Turkey, Israel, Hungary, Poland, Russia and other places; what the sum of these political portals served as harbinger, the COVID-19 pandemic has now appeared to make unavoidably manifest.  

COVID-19 is no longer merely a disastrous epidemic causing death and suffering in virtually every corner of the world as a sickness.  COVID-19 has become a permission, a a signal, and perhaps an incarnation of Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration)--a reference to the famous tone poem of that name written in 1889by Richard Strauss. Its four parts suggests the tunnel that leads those who have been forced to enter the portal of pandemic from one ste of world orders to the next:
  1. Largo (The sick man, near death)
  2. Allegro molto agitato (The battle between life and death offers no respite to the man)
  3. Meno mosso (The dying man's life passes before him)
  4. Moderato (The sought-after transfiguration)

Many thoughtful people are now engage with this time of transformation.  While it is far too early to write its history, it is exactly the right to to contribute to its making. The framing of that history making is nicely understood within the structures of Tod und Verklärung

In that  context that Dra. Valeska V. Geldres Weiss, Decana Facultad de Ciencias Jurídicas y Empresariales, Universidad de la Frontera Temuco, Araucanía (Chile) has offered us a thoughtful reflection on the times.  It follows below in English (as ) and en Castellano ("Tiempo para prepararnos").


Time for us to reflect and prepare

The current global scenario, with most countries in quarantine, is generating an unprecedented human and economic impact. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already said we are likely facing a situation similar to that at the end of the Second World War. In some quarters, some are also today thinking that the great depression of the 1930s may also project itself as a post-COVID-19 scenario.

The threat is brought about by an invisible enemy, a virus. And in acknowledging this, remember that we have faced other viruses before this one. What makes us think that after COVID-19 another one will not come? *

The current pandemic not only changes the way we look at life, it also changes our beliefs and the way we face the future. States and governments must also review and replace work models and strategies in seeking to sustain greater well-being for society, and preserve secure supply chains for basic activities such as food and health.

At a technological level, the main challenges today are in providing medical supplies that allow health teams to care for patients without getting sick themselves; and in generating a mechanism / instrument / method for detecting carriers of the virus. The above, obviously prior to the development of an effective antiviral that protects us from the virus. In the absence of this, how could we relate and physically share again like before – at school, at work, in church, at the cafe, at university?

We will also have to get used to the new dynamics of digital interaction, as Fernando Reyes, former Chilean Ambassador to China, pointed out at the Conference with Professor Joseph Westphal of the University of Pennsylvania**. Linkage dynamics and communication technologies that we today have seen being rapidly put into good use across social networks in areas such as music, maintaining classes in schools, bringing families together, etc.

We are all actors witnessing the beginning of changes in society at a global level. Today, one is unlikely to be able to establish scenarios describing final future outcomes within acceptable margins of error. However, the last century can shed some light on how a chain of events in the first three decades of the 20th century decisively and permanently affected human civilization. The 20th century began with the First World War in 1914, the product of disputes for hegemonic power between the powers of the time. It continued with the pandemic or Spanish flu of 1918, and was later followed by the great depression of 1929. The subsequent events would be chaotic and dramatic for the entire world, as humanity would have to face and endure a second world war with more than 50 million victims.

Until finally, the world would establish a global balance of power in what was known as the cold war.

Notwithstanding the tumultuous process and tragic reality lived by humanity in the first half of the 20th century, this however also brought advances for civilization – such as a greater concern for human rights (the creation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights at the UN), or the New Deal of the United States, forged by Franklin D Roosevelt’s government facing the 1929 Great Depression. In Chile, at this same time, President Pedro Aguirre Cerda promoted structural changes in the areas of education and productivity in order to address the consequences of the Great Depression.

Humans are the living beings that generate the most impact on the environment we inhabit – and we should not be condemned to repeat our mistakes. Today we have the great opportunity to contribute to the co-creation of this new world – each one from his or her respective field of action and expertise, in line with the circumstances faced, and to the best of our capability.

We have the opportunity to actively participate in the transformations that are necessary. Thanks to technology and the dynamics of digital interaction, we can turn this dramatic event into a positive change. There will of course be costs and challenges to be overcome, but it is up to us to work together to surmount obstacles and minimize as much as possible the effects these realities may have on the well-being of all. And above all, we should resolutely endeavor and collectively commit to not to repeat the mistakes of the past, condemning us to re-live historic tragedies from the last 100 years.

Today we can think, reflect and actively contribute to how we want to build our new world – an initiative that has invariably already begun. We must take advantage of this time to prepare … and make a difference.

* ** Conference organized by the UC Center for International Studies CEIUC, via zoom on April 2, 2020.

Written by the Dean of the FCJE-UFRO, Dr. Valeska Geldres Weiss

Chile, Temuco, April 2, 2020


Tiempo para prepararnos

Actualidad, Carreras, Internacionalización, Investigación, Noticias

El escenario global, con la mayoría de los países en cuarentena, está generando un impacto económico sin precedentes. Ya lo ha dicho la canciller alemana Angela Merkel, en relación a enfrentar una situación similar a la del término de la segunda guerra mundial. Hoy incluso se está pensando que, la gran depresión de los años 30, podría ser un escenario post covid-19.

La amenaza de un enemigo invisible, un virus, que se cuela por todas las rendijas sociales, afectando a todos los ciudadanos, manteniéndonos en nuestras casas, es algo quizás pensando, pero nunca imaginamos que lo llegáramos a vivir en carne propia. Y recordemos que hemos enfrentado como humanidad otros virus anteriores a este, ¿qué nos hace pensar que después del Covid-19 no vendrá otro?

La actual pandemia, no sólo cambiará nuestra forma de mirar la vida, cambiará nuestras prioridades y la forma de enfrentar el futuro. Estados y gobiernos también deberán replantearse modelos y estrategias de trabajo que aseguren un mayor bienestar a la sociedad, y que aseguren cadenas de suministros en actividades básicas como la alimentación y la salud.

A nivel tecnológico, los principales desafíos hoy día están en proveer insumos médicos que permitan a los equipos de salud atender a los pacientes sin enfermarse ellos también, y en generar un mecanismo / instrumento / metodología de detección de ser portador del virus. Lo anterior, obviamente precedido de un antiviral efectivo que nos proteja contra el virus. Si no, ¿cómo podremos volver a compartir en el colegio, en el trabajo, en la iglesia, en el café, en la universidad?

También deberemos acostumbrarnos a las nuevas dinámicas de interacción digital, como señala Fernando Reyes, ex embajador de Chile en China, en la Conferencia con el Profesor Joseph Westphal de la Universidad de Pensilvania*. Dinámicas de vinculación que hoy hemos visto en las redes sociales en ámbitos como la música, las clases en colegios, la familia, etc.

Estamos siendo testigos y actores del inicio de cambios de la sociedad a nivel global. Hoy es poco probable establecer escenarios que describan un desenlace final con márgenes de error aceptables. No obstante, el siglo pasado nos puede dar algunas luces de cómo una cadena de sucesos en las primeras tres décadas del siglo XX afectó de manera decisiva y permanente la civilización humana. El siglo XX comenzó con la primera guerra mundial 1914, productos de las disputas por el poder hegemónico entre las potencias de la época, continúa con la pandemia o gripe española de 1918 y posteriormente la gran depresión de 1929. Los resultados posteriores serían caóticos y dramáticos para el mundo, la humanidad tendría que enfrentar una segunda guerra mundial con más de 50 millones de víctimas, hasta que finalmente el mundo establecería un equilibrio global de poderes en lo que se conoció como la guerra fría.

El trágico proceso vivido por la humanidad en la primera mitad del siglo XX, también trajo avances para la civilización, tales como mayor preocupación por los derechos humanos (creación de la carta de Derechos Fundamentales en la ONU), o el New Deal de Estados Unidos en el gobierno de Franklin D. Roosevelt para enfrentar las consecuencias de la gran depresión de 1929. En Chile, en esta misma época, el Presidente Pedro Aguirre Cerda impulsó transformaciones estructurales en materia de educación y fomento productivo con el fin de enfrentar las secuelas de la gran depresión.

Los seres humanos somos los seres vivos que más impacto generamos sobre el entorno que habitamos y no estamos condenados a repetir nuestros errores. Hoy tenemos la gran oportunidad de aportar a la co-creación de este nuevo mundo, cada uno desde su ámbito de acción, desde sus posibilidades.

Tenemos la oportunidad de participar en las transformaciones que sean necesarias, gracias a la tecnología y a las dinámicas de interacción digital, para convertir este suceso dramático en un cambio positivo, conscientes de que existirán costos, pero está en nosotros el trabajar para que estos afecten en lo menos posible el bienestar de todos y no repetir las tragedias de nuestra historia en los últimos 100 años.

Hoy podemos pensar, reflexionar y aportar a cómo queremos construir nuestro nuevo mundo que ya ha comenzado. Debemos aprovechar este tiempo para prepararnos.

*Conferencia organizada por el Centro UC de Estudios Internacionales CEIUC, vía zoom el 2 de abril de 2020.

Escrito por la Decana de la FCJE-UFRO, Dra. Valeska Geldres Weiss

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