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“My Enemy’s enemy is my friend”: Covid-19 and The Unifying Effect of a Global Emergency

While only time will reveal the full impact of Covid-19 on our public health and the Global Economy, there will undoubtedly be far reaching ramifications unlike any we’ve seen before.  But there are other consequences already emerging, including a more pronounced sense of unity and stronger community values.

“My enemy’s enemy is my friend,” is a proverb commonly used in the field of war studies and international relations. This proverb suggests that two opposing parties can, or should, work together against a common enemy, and it feels particularly appropriate at the moment, when we are facing a common enemy in the form of the coronavirus crisis throughout the world.

Being born and raised in Israel, a country riddled by war, conflict and tension, I am well acquainted with the concept that a common enemy can be an effective unifying force. As Thucydides wrote several millennia ago during The Peloponnesian War, the “identity of interests is the surest of bonds whether between states or individuals”. I don’t feel I’ve ever seen such strong evidence of this than in today’s climate.  One effect of Covid-19 has been to bring together both local and global communities in an effort to alleviate the forces of this pandemic. We’re seeing this on both a micro and macro level – for instance:

  • In the creative industries – authors and illustrators, publishers and educators are providing free access to content and resources to support parents who are home schooling their children
  • Neighbours are shopping for their elderly neighbours, Age Concern’s Telephone Befriending Service is now over subscribed
  • Pub landlords have set up a service delivering fruit and vegetables to NHS workers
  • Publicly pronounced enemies prepare to put differences aside (Iranian cleric okays buying future Israeli Coronavirus vaccine)
  • Governments create economic packages to protect their citizens
  • Landlords and debt agencies create cushions for payment deadlines
  • Territorial disputes are put on hold
  • Regional interests are changed with global action
  • Narrow national economic interests are replaced with broader international action plans

Nations have responded and communities are coming together in the race to beat Covid-19, but no one deserves more recognition than our front-line fighters, the medical personnel who have put their own lives in danger to care for others.

My hope is that this experience will bring us all closer together, and make us more empathetic and compassionate towards one another. Perhaps the silver lining will be that we can overcome national, regional, political and social differences and recognise the value of humanity as a whole rather than focus on our own self-interest.

 

Yair Daren (Bsc), Yair Daren is Director of SRS, a London Based Security company, a former IDF Lieutenant and an Economics and Social Policy graduate of the University of London.

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