Between freedom and destiny | Opinion

In a straight line, the distance that separates what are believed to have been the sites of the city of Troy and the island of Ithaca, of which Homer speaks in his two famous epics, is barely 503 km. In the days of the Iliad, there are those who consider that the boat trip between one point and another could have been done in nine days; Perhaps it is an overly optimistic calculation, but in any case, the range in which the duration of the journey would move would be weeks, not months and even less years. However, it took Ulysses ten long years to return home; a whole odyssey that geographical distance does not explain. And the fact is that the Greek hero not only had before him 503 km to overcome, but also some adverse fates that were going to make it much more difficult than the sea.

Over the generations, the use of the expression has been declining in Spain, but before it was quite common for people to apostille ‘God willing’ immediately after stating any wishes or plans. Regardless of its religious imprint, the phrase implies a recognition that every purpose is subject to external forces or conditioning that we are not always capable of controlling or foreseeing. The truth is that even now we continue to refer to this idea, albeit unconsciously, every time we use the interjection ‘hopefully’, which comes from the Arabic ‘law šá lláh’ and which means ‘if God wanted’. The language thus reflects, secretly, the eternal conflict that man maintains between his will and ‘destiny’, so present in the Odyssey, as in many other classic myths, and that today takes new forms beyond the divine, such as everything we cannot decide about, but which, instead, decides about us in a significant way .

The pandemic should have taught us how little we people and nations control our own destiny

In that sense, if taking charge of our destiny means deciding more and with greater freedom, that Boris Johnson affirmed on December 24 that the UK had regained control of it, it sounds like a cruel joke, considering that days before France had closed the passage of the English Channel, stranding thousands of truckers in no man’s land; that states around the world had cut their air connections with the island; and that the diagnosed cases of covid-19 grew exponentially among the British population as he spoke, to such an extent that two weeks later the total confinement of the country has been decreed. Naturally, At that time, Johnson was not thinking about the coronavirus but about the trade agreement that he had just closed with the EU and that will carry his relations after the ‘Brexit’; However, no matter how rosy he imagines the prospects offered by the new ‘status quo’ for the United Kingdom, he should have noticed before anyone else, after going through the ICU and having to put his life in the hands of others because of the covid-19, of how little connected his enthusiastic proclamation was with reality.

The proclamations are especially vain
of ‘freedom’ made by Boris Johnson after the ‘Brexit’ agreement

Far from being masters of their destiny, the British, like most of the planet, are seeing helplessly as ‘destiny’, with the virus as a transcript, takes over their lives even in small elections. Eating in a restaurant, visiting a friend or family member, going to the movies, taking a walk down the street or hugging another person are actions that are now mediated by the evolution of the pandemic, without the ‘Brexit’ having altered nothing in this situation. Contrary to what was expressed by its prime minister, after December 24, the freedom and spontaneity of the citizens of the United Kingdom continues to be as constrained as that of the rest of Europeans. So if you had to look for a truly relevant date on the path of the British people to overcome the ‘tyranny of the fates’, that would be December 8 and not December 24, that is, the day it officially began. the vaccination campaign against SARS-CoV-2; Which is still ironic. That vaccines born from an unprecedented global cooperative effort represent the most tangible hope of regaining the freedom lost due to the virus, clashes head-on with the premises of self-sufficiency on which its promoters have sustained the ‘Brexit’As it is already observed, even before inaugurating its new phase outside the EU, that the United Kingdom will continue to depend on the help of others to control its destiny. The British case should teach us how badly nationalist narratives resist contact with reality, and, above all, that although destiny will never be completely ours, together we are closer to being able to rule it. Hopefully the vaccines prove it in a practical way and that thanks to them this 2021 we all begin to glimpse the shores of Ithaca again and with them the longed for normality.

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