GETTING READY TO EASING RESTRICTIONS
Even though Spain has recently become the country with the second biggest number of COVID-19 patients in the world (as of April 14 the USA had 590,000 cases, Spain 170,000, Italy 159,000), its government is slowly getting ready to restore normal functioning. Of course, this is going to be a gradual process. The first step involves letting the industry and construction workers come back to work from April 14. Also, offices and accounting companies will be allowed to reopen. So far Spain keeps closed places like shops which don’t sell the necessities as well as all venues connected with entertainment. Spain’s decision causes some criticism as experts warn opening too early may spark a second wave of infections. Yet, the coronavirus crisis there has already led to some 900,000 people losing their jobs and the economy really needs all the help it can get. Besides, Spaniards are not alone in their way of thinking. After 16 million people became unemployed a few American states are also working on plans how to get the people safely back to work despite Donald Trump saying he will tell them when and how they can do it.
ITALIAN TENOR WARMS HEARTS
For the vast part of the world’s population, this Easter was like no other. No chance to meet their family or friends, attend celebrations in church, cultivate old traditions. The only way to substitute for that was organising video conferences or watching live streams. A famous Italian tenor, Andrea Bocelli decided to warm people’s hearts by giving a ”mesmerizing performance” on Easter Sunday in front of the Duomo cathedral in Milan. He sang ”Amazing Grace” and the video quickly became viral. Bocelli said it was Lady Gaga who encouraged him to join the musicians who organised live streams to bring hope to people isolated in their homes. For many Bocelli’s act was just a performance, but he said he hoped this was intended to be a spiritual experience.
THE UNKNOWN SIDE OF TVP’S EDUCATIONAL SHOWS
When a virus outbreak appears, schools are shut down and the online learning causes some problems, but students have to continue their education and this is when TV comes in handy. Or does it really? “Szkoła z TVP” is a series of educational show broadcast by TVP, Polish public television broadcaster, made in cooperation with the Ministry of Education. The programs are transmitted since the 27th of March. It was enough time for them to rise a great number of controversies. The reason for that is the fact the shows contain a lot of substantive errors, for example mistaking circuit and diameter, or the hilarious definition of the even numbers. But you probably know this part of the story. All those fails were fiercely commented on the Internet. A lot of people started hating the show, also seriously hitting the teachers who took part in it. One of them decided to anonymously talk to “Gazeta Wyborcza”. She revealed a big part of backstage story behind the production, showing a new perspective: “the school management chose me, not giving me any option to refuse.” The lady got only one day to prepare the materials, not getting any help from the producers, like scripts or rehearsals, nor other support like how to present herself in front of a camera, or how to dress. Also, the teachers were not allowed to use any content they did not have copyrights to, like YouTube videos. Everything was recorded and edited in one day, then sent to Warsaw and transmitted at the next one. The teachers did not have an opportunity to watch the final effect. Now she is scared of leaving her house, wakes up in the middle of the night thinking how to disappear. She also said, teachers were told to get 250 zlotys for a lesson, but no one saw any contract yet. Szczepan Twardoch, a Polish writer, stood up for the teachers, saying that if people really need to laugh at something during this hard times, they should laugh at him. He also proposed a bunch of other options, like Orbitowski, Dehnela, Kaczyński, Tusk or Duda, because they are public figures, with developed defence mechanisms. Despite all that, the TV officially announced in theirs news program “Wiadomości” that the educational show “won students recognition” and “people appreciate the format as a good way to study during the pandemic”.
IS OUR OPTIMISM IN DANGER?
It is fairly safe to say that the world underestimated the coronavirus. The UK reported its first infection in late January (the virus had already been spreading around the world by then), yet the government advised Brits to stay home and avoid others only in mid-March (their lockdown came on March 23rd). The President of the US stopped just short of calling the virus a hoax in February and incorrectly compared it to seasonal flu. BBC’s Michael Marshall in his April 14th article poses the following question: „How did two of the most advanced countries in the world, with technology and expertise to spare, fail to recognise the crisis as it unfolded?” Apparently, the the answer is in our (human) heads: we tend to „miss the signs of a coming emergency – even when it is staring us in the face.” Research conducted by psychologist Neil Weinstein back in 1980 showed that people are „unrealistically optimistic” about their own future prospects. Weinstein asked over 200 students to rate their chances of experiencing different events in their lives (positive ones, such as owning their own home or having a gifted child, and negative ones, such as developing cancer or getting divorced). Most students’ responses were that they are more likely to experience the positive events than others in their class, less likely to get cancer than others and more likely to own their own homes. The question is: will the current situation make us (on average) less optimistic about our own future and more willing to accept gravity of certain situations. No – neither the BBC article nor its summary here answers it.
1. Countries should open their economies even when new coronavirus cases still appear.
2. People need religion and culture even more in the times of crisis.
3. Organising lessons broadcast on TV is a good idea.
4. After this pandemic, people won’t be as optimistic about their future as they used to be.