First of all, I hope that all of you are as well as possible in this disrupted world.
I am more than ever aware of how privileged I am, with a large and beautiful appartment including a terrace, a small park just in front, a little supermarket around the corner and a loving wife. My income does not depend on one of those areas which are likely to be restricted for some time to come like shops and other activities.
Yet you also know how much I cherish meeting you, sharing a bite, exchanging views and working together. All of that is more difficult remotely, naturally. But what would I do without Zoom, Teams, Meet or Skype ? I would feel even more deprived! We were allowed back on the tennis courts but the winter season now looks pretty much in jeopardy. We were also able to restart rehearsals of our two choirs and prepare the concerts scheduled for November and December. But we will not be allowed to sing the Mozart Requiem in concert as planned end of November/start of December. That’s a pity, we worked so hard (including rehearsing with a face mask on, imagine!) in order to produce a really good result. Well, we’ll see in the months to come how all this is going to play out. We would have liked to spend the All Saints’ Week with friends in our house in the Dordogne, as usual…grrrrrhh, not possible! So the motto is to stop making plans to avoid being even more frustrated! Learning to let go …… 😊 😊 😊 😊
Because life does not stop! Thank God (or whomever) for that. But life has become even more difficult for vulnerable people and they need our help, more than ever. So I try to stay involved in what’s going on and offer my contribution wherever it is deemed useful. Like at microStart who support and finance micro-entrepreneurs in Belgium (www.microstart.be ). People who started a business in the recent past e.g. in the catering sector or as hairdressers are going to suffer. The government and donors are helping and trying their best so that these entrepreneurs don’t have to close down. Things are also difficult for the staff. Boosting the activity is complicated and maintaining close contact with the entrepreneurs is not a foregone conclusion! NewB (www.newb.coop), the cooperative bank which has just been given the green light by the authorities is starting its new business in these difficult times, you imagine the challenge! I am not a member of the board anymore but continue to support their action. SIREAS, its beneficiaries and the staff are also going through hard times (www.SIREAS.be). To support people with huge needs remotely is virtually impossible, therefore we must find innovative solutions. Emergency is equally highly committed, mainly in Italy, to the fight against the virus; their operational credibility derives from their long experience in combatting Ebola in Africa (https://en.emergency.it/). APO.G, a debating club based on conferences and the creation of links between the participants is now wondering whether its model is sustainable, given that we haven’t met in person for a long time now (http://apog.be/qui-sommes-nous/)
As to EMMI (www.emmi-benchmarks.eu), there, too, people needed to be creative but the colleagues managed the nigh impossible task of keeping the boat perfectly afloat. We just need to hope that the monetary markets (exchanges beween banks) will not be too much affected by what is going to happen. There is less of a risk for Alumni Europae (www.alumnieuropae.org) mainly because the people in charge of the association are used to communicating remotely, given that we live all over the world. Even so, we terribly miss the warm and friendly atmosphere of physical meetings. But still, 5000 alumnis are registered on our site!!
Last but not least I cannot resist adding this link so that you can see what fantastic initiative this is. Some of you have received it already, and many have made a contribution: again thanks a lot! https://www.its-good-to-give.be/fr/page/soutenons-goods-to-give.
The health situation is certainly sad but it also compels us to reconsider quite a number of aspects of what used to be “normal” before. Including what and how we eat and consume or touristic travel by plane, solidarity at the local level or working from home. Even the most difficult challenges contain an opportunity to rethink the future. Let us hope that this will also help us to drop the paradigm of «go for the cheapest», be it in the field of pharmaceuticals and para pharmaceuticals, strategic products or other goods over which we have lost control in Europe.
To conclude, a comment on the American elections. It is obvious that Trump’s message of “America First” has seduced all those who couldn’t care less about other countries and who are living in their local bubble. We may deplore that state of affairs but it actually offers an unbelievable chance to Europe to gather strength whilst the American Empire is falling apart. We have to expect ever less solidarity from a state which is looking only at itself, is tempted by “illiberal” drifts, has no clear and understandable ideology and will be exposed to economic sanctions by the Union. Trumpism is real (70 million people voted for him!) and like all populists it unites all those who no longer feel in sync with global capitalism, and doubtless rightly so (and also the rich who don’t want to pay taxes), without offering an alternative to isolationism and internal confrontation. Let us hope that they will not resort to military confrontation abroad to distract from the failure of their domestic policy! History is full of examples of this kind, alas. It is up to us Europeans to benefit from the American decline in order to strengthen our Union ! But hey Olivier, listen, it’s Biden and not Trump who won!! You are right my friends, but I think this divided America with a probably Republican Senate will have a hard time regaining its international credibility. And Trumpism is here to stay I fear, and not only in the United States.
Usually I don’t finish my messages with somber thoughts and I do remain an unrelenting optimist. As I said, Trumpism like any other form of populism clearly predicts the end of a social, political and economic model which is global capitalism. But these populists have no credible vision, they are just “against”. So we need to reinvent a model of coexistence which saves us from wars and makes us rapidly adopt measures to save our planet. It is up to us, the citizens, to act accordingly!