For Thoughtful Thursday, I’m talking about freedom, something all of us are feeling the loss of lately. The other day, I was walking down Rue de la Roquette, and found a piece of street art, not far from where Les Roquettes prisons once stood. The art depicted Charlie Chaplin as the Little Tramp in prison garb, from the film The Adventurer. His sad, round eyes pleaded with me to spring him from his forced confinement. Seeing the comic imprisoned, I felt our own predicament: joy suppressed, confined.
But this week, France’s Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, rolled out the government’s plan for a gradual de-confinement, starting May 11 (if certain criteria are met). Some highlights of the immediate changes:
- No permission slip will needed after May 11th, as long as you are not traveling more than 100km from home (long-distance travel within France for essential reasons only)
- Masks will be compulsory in some sectors, (Métro, secondary schools, for example)
- Telecommuting continues, where possible
- Some schools will reopen, but with small classes only
- Shops to reopen (must protect staff and maintain social distancing of customers)
- Public gatherings permitted (of up to 10 people max)
- Bars, restaurants, cinemas, and beaches stay closed for now
Still, the question remains: how free will we really feel as long the virus continues to co-exist with us? It’s not like this pandemic is over just because we can now shop at BHV (Bazaar de l’Hôtel de Ville). Like the prisoner released after years in confinement, will we know how to be free again?
I’m not just talking about the increase in Big Brother tracking applications that governments might now employ (like France); I’m talking about us, our psyches. How do we de-confine ourselves without unleashing our fear? I know for myself, I may become even more paranoid once Parisians, long pent up, are “let loose” on May 11th. We’ve already seen so many people disregarding the confinement laws, will it become worse with they loosen the regulations? (More…)
After all, the virus is still very much out there. How will I get on the Métro, browse in a clothing store, without taking fear with me? Will I even want to go out? With more people gathering everywhere, will I stop taking walks? How do I visit with friends after having been safely tucked away at home, unscathed thus far? Do I want to take that risk?
Am I going to stand at the exit door of my prison, paralyzed with fear of the outside world? How do you think you will feel when lockdown ends in your town? Will you be able to just jump right in, knowing that the virus is still very much with us? We are only as free as we allow ourselves to feel.