The pope, the war and the gift
This is a very special collaboration post. The person who wrote is not only a brilliant Psychoanalyst, a Master in Collective Health (IMS-UERJ) and a Specialist in Psychosomatics… she is also one of my intellectual role models and… my beloved mother.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Written by: Solange dAvila Melo Sarmento
Translated by: Fernanda dAvila Melo Sarmento
03/27/2020, St. Peter’s Square.
The image of that humble man, aware of the weight of his responsibility, left its mark on all of us.
It seems paradoxical, but in his solitude, he achieved communion. Suddenly we were all there: alone, helpless, but joining forces, supported by the image of the Pope praying for the world (regardless of religion).
We formed a grand alliance: present souls in the physically empty square.
In this war against something unpredictable, invisible, and almost omnipresent, we humbly and inexorably turn our minds to our finitude.
Before COVID-19, we were physically together but separated souls, hearts, and goals. Now, our bodies are isolated, and, as it is characteristic of human nature, we miss and value what we don’t have: hugs, contact, and face-to-face meetings.
But what we really need is to face the longing for common goals.
French anthropologist Marcel Mauss developed the concept of GIFT to explain exchange models in old tribes. In these societies, exchange, reciprocity, and gift were founding elements of social relations. Giving, receiving, and giving back are three constitutive moments of social interactions.
GIFT sews conflicts and friendships; interests and disinterest; freedom and obligation. The more you give, the more you have, and the more you will receive. In the continuum between duty and desire, there is also gratitude, donation, and dedication.
For Mauss, the value of things cannot be greater than the value of relationships.
In this moment of global perplexity, reality imposes new patterns of relationships and priorities. Let’s take this opportunity. We can already see several spontaneous actions: using creativity and effort, anonymous people distribute meals, make homemade protective masks and so many other things.
A special honor to health and education professionals, markets, pharmacies, the press: driven by their ethics, they are tireless, working above their contractual strengths and obligations. There is no way I could mention all the collective effort of aid that observed. There is no time for individuality. Medicines, devices, and scientific information must be divided to be multiplied and disseminated.
As the future unfolds… my guess is just as good as yours. But who knows?
Maybe these modalities of exchange, based on GIFT, on the importance of relationships above the value of things are our next humanitarian step.