We still remember it as if it were yesterday.
It would go by the name of “The Big Lesson” into the history books.
And that’s when everything started to change,
the world we had known up to then, what we called normality,
the system that put us all at risk of death.
Within a few days thousands and thousands of people began to die around the world,
in both the richest and the poorest villages.
Many were people who should still be alive today, if we had been prepared…
We realised that this was not normal, when we saw that we were short of beds so that people would drop dead,
when we started to lack breathing equipment,
when we realised that we did not have enough protection,
it was too late.
We all went into our homes to dodge and stop death.
That’s when I started writing verses as a volunteer, for the people affected.
Meanwhile, death continued to spread across the planet
in vain the laws, fences, barbed wire and seas
in vain armies and policemen.
For the first time we knew that something was capable of slowing down the system that was largely powered by ourselves.
We watched in astonishment on television, endless rows of people from the great economic powers in search of supplies and food,
large makeshift morgues in the streets,
The system wasn’t designed to save us, it didn’t even warn us in time even though it saw it coming.
It simply waited for the virus unprepared, high-handed and self-indulgent
But from east to west, from north to south,
that virus stopped the system that had left the human being aside,
now that it was not productive, now that it did not consume,
“die in the streets and in your old people’s homes” it told us.
The poor were dying earlier and faster, but even the enormous wealth accumulated did not guarantee any one life.
We realised, perhaps for the first time,
that the solution was not as we had always been taught, to save oneself,
but that the only way to save oneself was to save us all.
Then what we would call “The Great Disaster”
unveiled itself before us,
clearer than ever.
That only a few had as much wealth as the rest of the world became a death trap for everyone.
Most people in the world did not have enough resources to deal with
that virus that was eating away at the system from the inside
and it was that great global imbalance in which we lived that was condemning us.
We couldn’t stop it,
even we had no resources in that world
built by the all-powerful white man of the West.
Why did we put production, self-benefit, consumption… before the person, nature, life, community for so many decades?
How had we built, through a scaffolding of laws, customs and structures, that whole system on the foundations of the exploitation and violation of women?
And worse, how had we lived with it for so long?
How did we put “more” before “everyone”? How did we get to eat food that we could produce here, brought in by planes and ships from all over the world?
How, with so much wealth accumulated in so few hands, did we not all have what it took to live?
I remember how a few weeks before all that, near my home, two workers were buried under the rubble in a private landfill. It was like a warning, a metaphor for the values that prevailed at that time…
Everything, so normal and assumed in our way of life, turned against us in the face of that pandemic.
What were they doing with us?
Locked up at home, we realised that all that artifice no longer served us.
Most television commercials were suddenly out of place.
In those weeks we were not the same consumer subjects that we had become. Our canons and paradigms of happiness and strength had collapsed, the essential was not what we had always been sold… everything was not worth saving lives.
The best and the worst of us came out, the grotesque, the lacking, the hidden abilities, the dreams and the ghosts. We clung to songs, books, films and series so as not to fall… many people knew their limits. Others broke them.
That looked like a science fiction movie, but not fiction.
I kept getting requests for verses for friends and family affected by the situation: isolated sick people, health workers, the dead, pregnant women, sad children, cases of loneliness of all kinds, births… I realised that television did not reflect the extent of the drama. Sometimes I cried while writing those verses.
And in the face of the system’s neglect of our lives, we began to react, to draw the lines of a new way of taking care of ourselves and understanding life in community.
We began to manufacture our own life-saving equipment in factories and small shops, we built new emotional mechanisms, citizen networks of mutual care, we took an interest in each other as never before… they were the shoots of a new life. Today, all this is part of the legacy left to us by “The Great Lesson”.
Yet the dead and the sick continued to join thousands…
In New York, they mined mass graves.
In Guayaquil City people were falling dead in the streets.
In Lombardy, military trucks full of mortuary boxes crossed the city.
In Madrid the dead were piled up in pavilions and ice palaces.
And it was revealing to see how as we were dying and our whole fabric was falling down, nature was resurrecting…
The rivers were being purified.
The earth was healing.
The air was being cleaned.
The skies were clearing.
The seas rested all over the planet.
In that deadly environment, life began to flourish.
Now we just wanted the basics: breathing, a hug, to keep our house, to talk to people, to be able to buy food
But the system did not stop, it was an entity that only knew how to feed itself and did not know how to stop whatever the situation was. It swallowed us up, starting with the poorest and even those who thought they were rich…
Outside the house, when the sun was biting, the strange atmosphere of singing, applause, memes and death was rarer.
News came to me that some sick people to whom I wrote verses were dying.
And the post-illness was worse than the illness itself.
The first wave was enough to make our sandcastle melt.
Suddenly, everything that we considered to be wealthy took hold of us, drowned us because we could not sustain it. And the system was unforgiving.
Those who ran that machinery also reacted, wanting to eventually and quickly plug the holes that came out in the world’s view, before people got too angry. For, perhaps as none of us had seen before, the giant, all-powerful system was reeling.
Many remembered that they had already warned,
many others simply lost everything…
The fact is that, in the face of that new reality, a new, heterogeneous social majority was formed, made up of people who were
indignant, beaten, aware,
of different origins, thoughts and social classes.
A great current all over the world that said: No. It’s over.
That it could not go on like this.
That planetary crisis was a turning point. A milestone. The before and after that changed everything.
We said it was enough with our last breath
with the bank’s latest notice in hand
with the letter of dismissal, with the letter of eviction
in front of the big corporations
in front of the mortuary boxes of our relatives.
Those who had nothing to lose, those who lost everything and those who didn’t want to lose anymore.
All over the planet a shiver was rising that shook everything.
More and more people realised that the solution was not to plug the holes in the system to return to the previous situation, but that it was precisely with the earth that was missing from those holes that we had to build a new world.
The earth had ordered us to stop long ago and this time we did,
paying for it with our lives,
we began to understand
that everything is one and that one is everything,
that our way of life was killing the planet and therefore ourselves,
that this unlimited consumerism and developmentalism was unsustainable.
Understand that the lives of all of us in the world are equally valuable
and act accordingly.
To promote new canons of happiness and well-being, of social justice, to change everything…
It was like a premonition, the first day of spring it snowed.
It was exciting to see the birth of what we now call “The New Majority,” the movement for new life, which put life at the centre for those who in the name of security wanted to cut even more basic rights and build an even more restrictive and conservative society.
An eternal struggle, which does not cease and will never end.
No, the world did not have a plan B and none of us would live twice.
More and more people said enough is enough and the “Revolution of Life” began.
We asked for responsibility, governments would start falling over time, here and there…
We’re starting to change our lives.
It was not easy, but fear, pain, love, life experience, anger, need, dreams and consciousness together have an unstoppable force within each of us, uniting people and moving the world.
Everything is quite different now. We are not perfect, it is a work that does not stop, this living. But, although many years have passed, we have not forgotten “The Great Lesson”.
Now, our daughters are born in this small piece of land where one day we managed to put life in the centre. Now, they are the centre.
The vaccine against the disease arrived, but we decided once and for all to attack its origin.
The great lesson is now taught in the schools, so that history will not repeat itself.
It’s been years.
At the time it seemed impossible,
but we saw the opportunity,
and now it is our truth.
Today, on the first day of spring, I remembered all that and started to write.
It seems that a beautiful day of April is coming. I hear children playing in the street.
We are managing to change the world.
It looks like a dream, but no, it’s not.
Today the river flows cleanly as well
and I still have stored all the verses that I composed in those days for so many people
in my heart.