Nothing we all miss more, in 2020, than being carefree. Who even remembers today the meaning of this word that was once so banal, if not as a distant memory? Etymologically, carefreeness is being free from care and worry, or at least the privilege of being able, for a moment, to leave it aside. Today, the pandemic has made it disappear. Everywhere. Except for the most fortunate among humans, who may believe that they are sufficiently protected from the epidemic and from any other misfortune, thanks to their financial means, to preserve their right to carefree living.
Shall we to wish for the return of carefreeness for all of us?
Of course, carefreeness is catastrophic if it is a refusal to think about the future, an absolute preference for the present, a negation of our duties towards future generations. But if it is episodic, transient, controlled, it is essential to life. To all lives:
First of all, it is fundamental for all children, in order for them to form and structure themselves; they should all have the right to it, permanently and for many years; it is even one of the fundamental dimensions of the “right to childhood”, which seems to me a fairer and more useful concept than that of the “children’s rights”. And don’t tell me that early confrontation with adversity is a necessary condition for resilience; I don’t believe it is: it may be a sufficient condition. But it is not necessary.
Similarly, it is also fundamental for young adults, who must be able to study, have fun, travel, love, and prepare their future without being gnawed by worries.
Furthermore, carefreeness is also fundamental for everyone, at whatever age; everyone should be able, from time to time, to enjoy the passing moment; so as not to fall into anxiety, depression and all the illnesses that go with it; it is thus, in a way, for every human being, a matter of life or death.
Finally, it is a necessary condition for a complete access to works of art: how indeed can one wholeheartedly enjoy a book, a concert, a theatre performance, an exhibition, if one is also gnawed by worries?
Yet a very large part of humanity is not entitled to it: a very large number of children are deprived of this vital right; many young adults are studying without having the means to pay for their accommodation and food; many adults are caught up in anguish by war, terrorism, insecurity, climatic disasters, hunger, disease, unemployment, or more simply the uncertainty of the end of the month.
Everything must be done, at all levels of society, to make this possible:
It is first and foremost the role of the public authorities to create a society that establishes the right to carefree behaviour as one of the dimensions of collective rights; and to do this, to establish the necessary foundations: democracy, security, a fair and effective health and education system, protection for the most vulnerable and the unemployed, and housing for all.
It is then the role of parents to provide their children with the personal means of carefreeness; this is particularly difficult when the State fails in its duties, or when reality is terribly invasive; especially today, for all the children of the world, who find it difficult to understand the need, imposed by a terrible pandemic, to wear a mask and keep their distance. And even worse in situations of war and famine: we remember the extreme example, given by Roberto Benigni, of simulated carefreeness, in his film, “La Vita e Bella”.
It is also everyone’s role to help spread carefreeness around them; by being cheerful, by marvelling at the things in life, by distancing oneself as far as possible from those who radiate stress, by mastering one’s own sadness, anger and worries: self-restraint is one of the conditions for the carefreeness of others.
When this pandemic has gone away, (and it will go away), it will be the moment to remember the rare value of many things that we took for granted in the world before and whose fragility the pandemic has made us aware of. Including carefreeness. And to enjoy it to the full. Without forgetting that it can only exist if we know how to be vigilant, on the lookout, to protect it and pass on its conditions to future generations, with a smile: Preparing for the future does not require sadness.