Of Fellowship and Hope
An evening devoted to the topic of the economy in the wake of the pandemic yields some unexpected conclusions.
On Thursday May 28th, a virtual community discussion was held about the impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Like many virtual meetings, the discussion was paneled by a few experts. However, unlike many other virtual meetings, the audience was engaged in the discussion. As I was scrolling down the participants’ list, I found many friends who had joined from far and near, waiting to hear expert analysis about the ramifications of the biggest pandemic any of us have ever experienced.
We are lucky that we live in an era in which accessing expert opinions and being engaged in a discussion has become so easy, irrespective of the physical distance. Imagine if this had happened even fifty years ago, when technology didn’t exist that would allow this human connection in a pandemic that ravages life, society, and economy. Today, in a snap of a finger, we can access the power of teleconferencing.
The event was organized by a group called “Ergon,” spearheaded by Andrea Baccarelli, with the help of few friends. I myself was particularly moved when I heard Andrea’s original proposal through my communication with him and while attending one of the "Speaking of Work" meetings. To me, the reason ‘Why Ergon?’ was embedded in the timeliness and the fellowship. The timeliness stems from the fallout of the pandemic and the required preparation to embrace it. The three-month-long lockdown is bound to be felt across all portions of human life, from the global economy to localized life. However, amidst all of this, what ignites inside us is the “hope.” As Father Giussani puts it beautifully, “But a present is truly the present insofar as you possess it; therefore, hope is certainty in the future that is based on a possession already given.”
To truly appreciate the future based on the present, certainly, some effort is required! This effort has to be put in now, like a seed in the soil, in the moment of need, so that the fruit is available in the future. But this is certainly difficult to achieve in a vacuum. This is where the fellowship aspects of “Ergon” resonate with me. The fellowship is the tremendous energy of the friends and well-wishers of the Movement who share the passion of the faith. The asking of the present is to channel this passion and the love for one another so that the needs of one can be translated to the desires of many.
Answering to this need to know the impact, the online meeting brought together Anujeet Sareen, Marco Aiolfi, and Alvaro Manoel, each of whom is intimately involved in the money market and the economic dynamics of the pandemic, to portray a definite picture of the storm that is raging around us. It is one thing to read in the news about the unemployment rate soaring over fifteen percent, but is an entirely different thing to hear a friend’s narrative of how it felt to let go of over ten percent of his workforce. The reality strikes more when you witness it.
But, in the end, all three men talked out about hope. The optimism of weathering the storm through both the effort of the private and public sectors was emphasized. While answering one question from the audience regarding the behavior of the stock market, Anujeet underscored how the collective economic entities want the situation to be better and aspire to make the reality of the future more favorable for all of us. The same can be said about the action of governments across the globe. The unprecedented availability of assistance and fiscal stimulus is helping to stave off the secondary human disaster following the primary impact of death and sufferings due to the coronavirus.
Even then, though, the fear of uncertainty remains, and the question emerges, "What can I do from my vantage point?"
A nice response to this question was presented by Matteo Tinti, who reimagined and reinvented his company's product line in response to the market condition. This is crucial. This is where, collectively, we need to focus. Being creative in tackling a problem takes effort, but it pays off tremendously during times of need. As followers of a Movement, our aim is indeed to keep moving. If a small personal development is required for that, so be it.
Without sharing our collective wisdom and the fellowship of lifting one another up through this trying time, the path to recovery could be tortuous. There are very few playbooks to teach us how we can tackle this and remain unscathed. However, this also pushes us to be creative in writing our very own playbook. Sure, mistakes will be made, but, then again, the collective wisdom of humanity could save the day!
Razib, New Haven, Connecticut