Is the Western societies’ Abundance really over?

One of the more lasting consequences of the tragic pandemic we have gone through for almost two years—besides the worst legacy of millions of lost lives, including some dear members of our own family—is the firm certitude that society changed. No longer we have the hopeful belief that tomorrow will be better than our present, with the suspicion that there might be another pandemic in the near future, with unforeseeable social, economic, and human costs to each and every one of us. No exceptions.

The barbaric Russian invasion of Ukraine has compounded all those fears of the inhabitants of the European continent, long accustomed to the economic bonanza and social harmony that the Post-World War II institutional order brought them. The raw images of civilian casualties from a senseless war in Europe has shaken the confidence of the still wealthy Europeans with the fear of worse times to come. One of the most affected countries has been France, with a generalized shutdown of all public lights at 9 PM sharp and the draconian restrictions of energy expenditures.

Note. This reproduction of Camille Pisarro’s Bountiful Harvest was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Kim Willsher recently wrote in a The Guardian article: “Emmanuel Macron has warned the French they are facing sacrifices and what he called ‘the end of abundance’ at his government’s first cabinet meeting after the summer holidays. The president, speaking before ministers at the Elysée, said the country was at  a ‘tipping point’ and faced a difficult winter and a new era of instability caused by climate change and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine…His cautionary and sombre speech, which were immediately criticized as ill-judged and a snub to the country’s out-of-work and poor who had already made sacrifices, came after a summer of extreme temperature, widespread wildfires , droughts and rains.”

In our book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague we predicted that Western societies would make a re-evaluation of the critical role played by Minorities and the poorest members of society—overwhelmingly hired by the service industries to keep our communities functioning in times of extreme duress like a pandemic. The French unions reacted angrily to Macron’s words as they prepared to resist any legislative move to curtail their earned labor, unemployment, and pension benefits. However, the rest of French society tends to grudgingly agree that all the segments must share the sacrifices to affront the upcoming energy shortages next winter. The shortage of fuel and gas will not impede the social manifestations of discontent.

In Germany, the ruling coalition government announced several measures to counter the dire consequences of inflation and high energy prices for consumers. They are:

  1. One-time payment of Euro300 to consumers to cover their energy costs.
  2. A planned price cap for the basic energy consumption of the families.
  3. Retirees will also receive that stipend, but students will receive Euro 200.
  4. The successful 9 Euro ticket implemented last summer to use the public transportation all over the country will be extended with a higher price.

In a Bloomberg News Online article, Julian Lee predicts that rapidly replenishing gas and fuel storage capacities and reducing the amount of energy consumed by the citizenry will not be enough to stem the nefarious effects of Russia’s shortage. At present Germany has replenished 80% of their gas storage but their functionaries believe that they need to quickly find more alternate sources of fuel for the winter. The interrupted gas delivery system from Algeria to Europe, now supplying only the Iberian Peninsula, as it stops at the French frontier, will be eventually completed. However, the national interests still complicate the negotiations as the French insist that it should stop in their country and not proceed along to Germany and others.

These draconian measures will certainly have lasting psychological and physical effects on the inhabitants of Western Europe that we will pointedly discuss in future articles.

Stay distant.. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.


What will we learn from this Pandemic?

“There is a face of Sadness for those that do not have Sadness” Antonio Machado

Awaiting the blissful third shot of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, we took the time off our busy schedule to watch people from the simple vantage point of our seat. There were a few people waiting for the shot and others filling their drug prescriptions. They were of very different ages, socio-economic backgrounds, and health care needs. But they shared one trait: Profound. Unfathomable. Sadness.

Not a single one of them was chatting about inconsequential themes or laughing off. They all seemed too preoccupied with the daily up and downs of survival in these times where we have all lost our Sense of Future, our trust in a Better Tomorrow. This one and a half years of Social Isolation and Distancing have consistently gnawed at our human capacity to empathize and our commitment to live together. We have burrowed ourselves so deep in our bespoke cocoons that we can hardly notice who is standing next to us, and worse of all, who is trying to connect with us.

In a September 26. 2021 Washington Post article, Karla Adam said: “The United Kingdom, hoping to ease a supply-chain crisis and a Christmas logjam, will grant temporary visas to more than 10,000 foreigners to work as truck drivers and in the food industry…Britain is grappling with a string of shortages: Supermarkets are running out of goods, and restaurants chains like McDonald’s and KFC are cutting items form their menus. The truck driver shortage is particularly acute. Britain’s Road Haulage Association estimates the country needs about 100.000 drivers. The crisis spread over the weekend to gas stations, resulting  in long lines at the pump.”

We are witnessing an Implosion of almost all the known social parameters of yore. Before the Pandemic, there was no shortage of British and European Union drivers willing to risk their lives transporting those huge tankers full of flammable liquids; the salaries were very good, which paved their way for access to a better lifestyle. However, after many of them were stranded in their homes without working at all, something strange started to seep in their tough blue-collar spirits: risk aversion. They appreciated the time off with their families and sharing the great little moments of life: their sons and daughters’ birthdays, their sports and music events, cooking a Sunday dinner with the whole family helping out, watching their favorite team, etc. When they were summoned, a majority had retired or were working elsewhere; it did not matter that most of them had to take a significant pay and benefits cut.

Paradoxically one of the few painters that could grasp the essential grip of Divinity in our lives and has been able to transmit it to humans through generations was a born rebel that drank too much, adored la bonne chaire des femmes and was often fighting with the Catholic Church to the point of almost being excommunicated. But he never was because they were in awe of his unique mastery of the chiaroscuro techniques. His visceral, bloody strokes accentuated the poverty of Jesus and his followers. Intoxicated with the lead from his paintings, he died too young, after a fight in Naples. His name? Michalangelo Merisi. Caravaggio. Master of the Raw Realism that still deeply disturbs us.

Note. This image of Caravaggio’s Saint Jerome writing was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

By Caravaggio – Self-scanned, Public Domain,

In this painting of Saint Jerome, a masterpiece now at the Borghese Gallery, Caravaggio captured the Doctor of the Church in a moment of pause of meditation in his travails of translating the Holy Bible into Latin in the Fourth Century. He is not depicted as a penitent but as a scholar whose resting right hand is casually pointing at the inkwell at the other side of the table and at the same time at the skull, a reminder of the inevitability of death and the futility of the vainly pursuit of material goods. The red cloak enveloping the ageing saint takes a physicality of supernatural protection from above.

What if the terrible suffering we have almost all of us suffered during the past few months of Pandemic finally has a sobering effect in our endeavors and attitudes?

What if, instead of foolishly pursuing just material comfort, we take a look at others?

What if we stop plundering the Earth’s Natural Resources and find the alternatives?

What if we stop minding our little miseries and start admiring our many blessings?

What if we tell our loved ones how much we love them again, and again, and again?

What if we open our hearts to spiritual values and bestow that gift to our children?

Therein lies the greatest antidote to the modern spiritual angst and the Triumph of Happiness.

As we will all finally undertake the very same journey, we might imitate the poet’s panache:

“And when the day arrives for the final voyage

And the ship of no return is set to sail,

You’ll find me aboard, traveling light,

almost naked, like the children of the sea.”

Antonio Machado – Campos de Castilla

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Post-pandemic Trinity effect

This article was excerpted from the chapter Epilogue – What do women want from our soon-to-be-published new book Emotional Frustration – the hushed plague.

“Can you fly that thing?” Neo said, pointing at a parked helicopter.

-“Not yet” Trinity replied. She takes off her glasses and picks her Cel.

-“Operator…I need a pilot program for a B-21-2 helicopter…Hurry.”

In the other end, the operator maniacally clicks his keyboard a few times.

She closes her eyes for a few seconds while her eyelashes suavely flutter.

 Suddenly she opens her eyes and commands to Neo: “Let’s go.”  

In that memorable scene of The Matrix [i], the central characters are quickly aided by Artificial Intelligence to flee the pounding pursuit of the malevolent Mr. Smith. In that vein, we can watch now that people who were barely able to send e-mails before are now turning experts in tele-conferencing and phone applications. Skills that used to be the preserve of the Millennials and highly educated nerds are seeping into other socio-economic strata that used to shun them, including the Old. There might be empirical evidence that a glaring gender gap is spawning.

Recently une femme d’une certaine âge [ii] told us that she had found solace from the forced distancing from family and friends by using WhatsApp chatgroups and Zoom conferences. “And your husband?” we asked. “Forget it,” she shot back.

As some distrait men keep stubbornly yearning for their Past, most women are already daringly colonizing our Future.


[ii] Euphemism used in the French language to delicately refer to “an older lady.”

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.