The Ideas

To remain human

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03 April 2021

With the Covid-19 pandemic, a constant relationship with death has returned to us.  The great repression. Contemporaneously, the virus has changed, and has denied us two moments that are considered exclusively human and of civility namely accompaniment and funeral rites.

In fact, there is an emergency regarding our relationships that has to be managed alongside the health, economic and social aspects of the pandemic. We have returned to living indoors, which has become the principal place of care, as well as functioning as an office, a school, and a church for those who believe. However, at the same time, we are isolated within the walls of our homes, just as we are alone in hospitals, where the virus has not spared those indispensable doctors and nurses whose singular role is to rehumanise an inhuman situation.

In this difficult moment in which we are suspended -for how long no one knows-, and in the days of the Christian Easter -the feast that celebrates the resurrection-, we have chosen to talk about death, which is not the opposite of life, and to speak about life after death. We have done so because women are the guardians of these rites, and who perform ethical and spiritual, private and social functions in their witnessing of the two fundamental passages of birth and death.

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There is a time to be born and a time to die. This passage from Ecclesiastes, which solemnly marks the rhythm of human life, says that there is a time for everything and that the actions of life are to be lived naturally.  A generation goes, a generation comes.

Today, we live in a paradoxical situation. A person dies but lives on, and not only in private memory. The smile of those who have gone before us pops up on mobile phones and the web becomes the great public space to celebrate and share their memory.  Nevertheless, there are those who die and are buried without their identity being known, marked by a numbered tombstone that guards their body recovered from the sea.  There are three women who are responsible for giving back a name to the Mediterranean’s shipwrecked people; and, who give them remembrance by making their tomb less anonymous.  In the small cemetery in Lampedusa, one woman’s words are addressed to the world:

“Bereavement in their death to feel
Whom We have never seen -
A Vital Kinsmanship import
Our Soul and their's - between -
For Stranger - Strangers do not mourn –“

(Emily Dickinson)