The Other Viruses

La Voz de Galicia – March 6, 2020 →

Cristina PatoI was struck by the headline, «We’ve sold more soap over the past three days because of the coronavirus than we have sold in the last three years»; and then it made me think about the media’s influence in our day to day and in the speed with which we react when we are the ones who may be affected by something. The headline, coming from the statements from the manager of Savelo (a company in Coristanco, A Coruña, that makes cleaning and disinfecting products), helped me understand the profound impact that fear has in our lives.

It seems that COVID-19 is already here and that it is a matter of time before our neighbor or our sister has it. But the work of the media when its time to show us the consequences of the spread of the virus is so thorough that there are facemask shortages in drugstores, and soaps sell now more than ever.

Without a doubt, we are aware that we must protect ourselves, and we quickly learn to take measures. We listen to the experts, and despite uncertainties, we act en masse to prevent the propagation of the virus. That is to say, what the impact of the news about the coronavirus teaches us is that, as a society, we are capable of reacting and adapting to change, taking measures to which we are not accustomed.

And I wonder: what if we were capable of reacting in similar ways against the rest of the viruses that devastate our society? Against those that are constantly there: the virus of inequality, violence, racism…Perhaps we believe we are immunized against them because we constantly forget the strength with which they spread. But those viruses against which we do not protect ourselves are the worst because their spread is as silent as it is unconscious, and without meaning it, we also spread them when we simply look the other way.

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