Thomas Sohst, President of CESI Council ‘Defence’ and Regional Chairman for the West in the German Bundeswehr Alliance, on solidarity during Conavirus pandemic

Corona – it’s the invisible enemy, an enemy which can’t be fought with the conventional methods of foreign and security policy.

Corona – it’s an invisible virus, for which at present no vaccine is available or medicines to treat those who become infected.

Corona – it’s an invisible danger, which we can’t stop at the borders, whether we’re talking about interstate borders or European borders. We also can’t stop it by isolating Europe from the rest of the world.

We could despair. Many people are despairing, of their own apparent powerlessness.

We could despair. Many people are self-isolating, keeping themselves to themselves.

We could despair. There are still people who have yet to grasp the seriousness of the situation.

But despair is not the approach with which we must and can defy corona.

Showing solidarity with one another is one approach we can take. Showing solidarity whilst keeping a safe distance. Showing solidarity by looking for, finding and using new ways of communicating and being together.

Sharing, through which we provide others with essential things, whether this be one of the last packets of flour on the supermarket shelf or protective masks which are not needed at present in the industry.

Sharing, by offering assistance across borders when it comes to caring for the sick.

Sharing, by saying THANK YOU to those people who, because of the jobs they do, are now exposed to particular burdens.

The public service is a sector which is under a particular amount of strain. Citizens want and are entitled, to rely on the public service.

This is not the time to grumble about what may have been falsely prioritised in the past. And it’s more than obvious that mistakes were made. We need to make use of the time to reflect on solutions which meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.

The challenges are of a material nature but are in particular challenges involving physical and psychological stress. Thank you to the doctors, nurses and carers who work in our health service.

Thank you to those people monitoring internal security, thank you to the police and public order officials, and thank you also to those who are actually meant to provide external security but are now helping out in those places where domestic provision is reaching its limits, thanks to the soldiers, thanks to armed services personnel and thanks to the reservists.

Thanks also to the pedagogues and educators, who have taken on the task of urgent childcare, thanks to the teachers, who are making sure that a minimum amount of training can take place online.

Thanks to all public service employees.

Thanks to the shop assistants and people working in logistics, who are making sure that comestibles and other staples continue to be supplied.

But thanks also to the politicians who are taking care with their generous decisions to absorb or at least mitigate the economic damage felt by those who suddenly find themselves without work and those who are offering jobs, because there will be a time after corona, for which we need to prepare today, even if we don’t know when this day will dawn.

We must not allow ourselves to be taken hostage by feelings of despair. We need to think of tomorrow.

I wish for all of us who manage to emerge physically and mentally unscathed from the social distancing phase to keep our sense of optimism for tomorrow.

And when, one day, Corona has been vanquished, we shouldn’t be too quick to forget the lessons we’ve learned. Instead, we should devote more attention to foresight. Corona reveals to us that, despite highly developed technology, we can come up against boundaries, boundaries which can only be overcome if we are prepared to shape things together in a way which takes account of others.

It will fall to the independent trade unions and lobbies in their capacity as key public service organisations in Germany and Europe to make sure that our society, in which we have a stake, does not just go back to business as usual as soon as the crisis is behind us. We will admonish anyone who deviates too quickly from the path and we will rise to the challenge of ensuring that, next time, we are better prepared.

Thomas Sohst

Regional Chairman for the West in the German Bundeswehr Alliance

President of the CESI Trade Council ‘Defence’ (DEF)

For further reading:

COVID-19: The Pandemic and Its Impact on Security Policy