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Corona, Humankind and Human Kindness

by | Aug 10, 2020

Hello dear readers. My name is Hassan Fazili, a filmmaker who was born in Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, I made films on human rights issues, and we also had a cultural center with my friends called Art Cafe. I was threatened with death by religious extremists for making one of my films about the Taliban, as well as civil and human rights activities at the Art Café. The corrupt Afghan government refused to support me, and I fled Afghanistan with my family to save my life. There was no legal way for our family to find a safe and quiet home, and we had to smuggle to Europe and make a documentary about our own lives called Midnight Traveler Our family walked through forests, plains, mountains, villages, cities and different countries, with fear and horror night and day, crossed different borders, and after three years of wandering, we finally arrived in Germany in April 2018.

These days my family and I are in a small German town called Lennestadt. My film was to be screened at various festivals and I was going to participate in different countries to screen my film. But because of the Corona virus, most of my programs were canceled or changed to another time. Like the rest of the German people, we were in quarantine for a while.

Quarantine was not a new experience or feeling for me and my family. Due to inhumane migration laws, we have been in bad conditions for many years of our lives in various Asian and European countries. We have been deprived of our freedom and our human rights. The world was already like living in quarantine for us, and that is why Corona affected us less than others.

In general, the Corona virus has disrupted the order of human life. It has complicated the situation we all find ourselves in. I saw in this global problem that I could not do anything about it or help many people. I felt powerless. I was ashamed of myself for being so weak. I tried to help others as much as I could. I tried to forgive friends with whom we had problems in the past. I called some of them. I forgave some. I could not forgive others.

Corona has also had some positive aspects for humankind. For me, the positive effect of Corona was that I spent more time with my family, as well as alone with time to think. Corona made me pay more attention to human beings. I tried to understand the intricacies of human behavior. I came to the conclusion that instead of trying to know others better, perhaps getting to know myself was a better place to start. Who had I become as a human being? I started studying myself. Through a greater sense of self-awareness, I found some peace. Annoying and irritating people started to disappear from my life. Many of the problems they had previously caused me, were resolved on their own.

Fortunately, I found out that Mohsen Makhmalbaf (an Iranian filmmaker), was hosting an online psychology course during these Corona days. I attended his classes which provided resources to enable greater self-knowledge.  I began to realize my strengths and weaknesses. This helped me to tackle my selfishness and weaknesses, to lower my expectations of life so that I could live more peacefully. These days I spend more time with my family than before. I play with my daughters more than before. These days I read books, I watch movies, I learn languages. I educate myself. I write screenplays. I hope that after these Corona days, I can make my next film.

In Germany, refugees are safe and have good medical facilities and social services. The government has created a healthy economy. It supports asylum-seekers. In general, refugees in Western and Northern European countries are less worried. But in poor countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, or Eastern European countries such as Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, etc., refugees are in serious trouble. They are herded together in camps like Moria in Lesvos, Greece detained in unsanitary, unsafe conditions because of the Corona virus. Many are so confined they cannot observe social distance. They do not have access to health care. They are living in poverty and do not have enough for the basic necessities of life such as food, clothing, housing, education and health. They are worried and scared. They are not even allowed to leave the camp. They are treated like prisoners.

When the Corona virus started, people had different opinions about it. Some believed one or more of the Corona conspiracy theories in circulation, for example, that  it was a biological weapon or designed to wipe out ageing populations. Powerful governments slandered each other, narrowly pursuing their own national interests. Each blamed the other for spreading the virus. Authoritarian governments censored and repressed citizens. Even so-called democratic governments lied and tried to justify the failure of their policies to tackle the virus. Some very wealthy people tried to take advantage of the situation. Opportunistic people put their benevolence conspicuously on display. Others tried to see God in the eyes of the people. Some people think that the Corona virus is a plague from God or the wrath of nature against humans.

Whatever it is, Corona was able to close the world’s major religious centers. Corona challenged the world’s economic giants. With great ease, it has challenged all kinds of religious beliefs, all kinds of political, economic or social demarcations. But it has also questioned inhumane beliefs. Corona has strengthened the belief in human kindness. Corona showed us that there are still people who risk their lives and their health to save other people – to sacrifice their lives to keep others alive. Corona, with all its awe and power, could not prevail against our fundamental belief in humanity. I dearly hope that after Corona, we will have a more humane life, a world without war, and that no one will have to flee their homes to survive.