By Antonis Karakousis

In the northern city of Kavala an intellectually disabled 45-year-old man was found penniless mourning over the corpse of his 90-year-old mother who died infected with COVID-19.

He was taken to hospital, tested positive, and is now fighting for his life in an ICU bed.

Almost simultaneously, 62-year-old Margarita Theodoraki, daughter of the internationally renowned (Zorba) 95-year-old composer Mikis

Theodorakis, issued a dramatic plea for assistance, claiming that the Public Power Corporation (PPC) cut off her electricity due to non-payment and that she does not have enough money to feed herself and care for her father who as she says receives a small pension.

She said that she has no telephone and had to go to neighbours to spread her message through the social media and that she depends on the kindness of others.

These cases are tragic and should be enough to mobilise everyone but there are many more.

These are hard times for a huge number of our fellow-citizens who cannot make ends meet.

They are being battered by a deadly combination of coronavirus, poverty, and isolation without strength and support mechanisms.

Danger of meltdown

These days are dangerous not only due to the huge public health problem but also because of the danger that they may lead to a meltdown.

The triple public health, economic, and social crisis may take on unprecedented dimensions and throw the country into a tailspin.
That is especially possible as the state of affairs internationally is no better despite the hopes stirred by the announcements of reliable vaccines and effective medicines.

It will take months until the vaccines and the new medicines are very widely distributed and no one can predict what will happen in the world until then.

The US is still in the midst of outgoing President Donald Trump’s disputing of the electoral result even as it mourns 250,000 dead.

Europe is at the same time dealing with its own bouts of irrationality. The Swiss counterpart of the Greek PM’s scientific advisor Sotiris Tsiodras demanded that deniers of the existence of COVID-19 sign a document stating if they fall ill from the virus they will not be treated in a hospital ICU.

In neighbouring Germany the ever popular Chancellor Angela Merkel triggered a strong backlash when she asked young schoolchildren to choose a single friend due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Poland and Hungary are blocking the EU budget because the European Parliament demanded that their governments comply with the European acquis as regards individual rights.

They are effectively threatening to scupper the EU Pandemic Recovery Fund.

The great threat to democracy

The greatest threat of this period is a possible emergence of conditions for a meltdown in the entire Western world.

If something like that happens democracy will be scorned and the only beneficiaries will be authoritarian leaders and regimes – China, Russia, Turkey, Iran, and others.

Let those who at this time are waging dogmatic struggles and battles with symbols as if they were clerics beware of this.

The situation demands political initiatives and moves to ensure solidarity with vulnerable groups of citizens and the weaker economic strata, to guarantee the endurance of the health system, and to check the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.

These are the paramount issues because if they are not managed properly all else that constitutes free democratic life will be lost