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Existentialism and Co-Existence with COVID-19

Our life's ultimate ambition is survival since life itself is pre-determined with an irrevocable expected end. To do so, we must co-exist with our fellow human beings and surroundings. Those who intentionally separate from others and immediate concrete world inadvertently initiate a de-escalation to extinction. Thereof, we must co-exist with COVID-19 as we have done with other viruses in previous decades or centuries.

We cheat our brains creating perfect images of beauty. In the classic film by Paolo “La Grande Bellezza,” the main character Jep Gambardella played by Toni Servillo concludes, ”E’ Tutto un Trucco!” “It is All a Trick.” We throw ourselves in the vortex of life with passion and intensity to forget that there is an end to our survival. Indeed, a ‘beautiful trick.’ Yet, death is always around the corner: see COVID-19.

The present is the past, viruses such as the Black Death in the Middle Ages have exterminated vast numbers of populations and will continue to do so indiscriminately in the future. In ensuring our survival are we willing to co-exist with our fellow human beings far and near?

We better listen to visionaries like Albert Camus who metaphorically speaking wrote about the infestation of our human condition in “The Plague” published a couple of years after the ending of WWII.

Alian De Botton’s opinion, “Camus on the Coronavirus” in the New York Times of March 20, 2020 nails our human condition: “Being alive always was and will always remain an emergency. ”We are all ‘plagued’ with the suddenness of death. We are not immune to ‘dying’. We must coexist with our fellow humans to alleviate the burden of living.

De Botton stresses a central maxim from the Plague:

“This whole thing is not about heroism,” Dr. Rieux says. “It may seem a ridiculous idea, the only way to fight the plague is with decency.” When asked what decency is, Dr. Rieux replies,” Doing my job.”

'Doing our job' means supporting our fellow humans with their frailties and opening our hearts to their simultaneous co-existence on our fragile planet.

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