Me or us Cohesion in a crisis

We all know the conflict between social responsibility and personal well-being. Why it is important to stick together right now

Lessons learned from the crisis: Solidarity can also mean staying at a distance

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"It is enough now!" Every now and then we may all find ourselves thinking about this. After around two months of massive restrictions, we long for freedom and joie de vivre! A cozy chat with friends in the beer garden, finally back to a concert or the cinema, planning the next trip full of anticipation - after all, we had to do without all of that long enough! But much of this is not yet possible in the foreseeable future. And right now, with the first loosening, the impatience is growing in many, the longing for more.

There is a lot at stake for all of us - still! For some it may be the family celebration, the cultural highlight or the next vacation. For others, it's about the job or possibly the economic existence. And for others, it's about their health, maybe even their life. No, the crisis is far from over: not medically, not economically - and certainly not from an ethical and social point of view.

To take responsibility

We all have to ask ourselves at the moment: Is my personal well-being and the immediate satisfaction of my needs possibly more important to me than the general welfare? The Bishop of Essen, Franz-Josef Overbeck, called for "solidarity to be practiced as a clear sign of determination to work for the common good and for social justice." The German bishops had declared on the corona pandemic that the restrictions were sensible and responsible and at the same time emphasized that the restrictions must be relaxed again with responsibility and a sense of proportion. "Now everyone has to take responsibility and behave considerately towards their fellow human beings," confirms the Munich Jesuit Father Bernd Hagenkord. "Freedom without responsibility is counterproductive because it can harm other people." He advocates never losing sight of the effects your own actions can have on others. "It's exhausting, but it doesn't work without it."

Great level of solidarity

As the pastor knows from numerous conversations, many people take their social responsibility seriously, pay attention to the consequences of their behavior and put their own interests aside. "We are currently experiencing a great deal of solidarity," says Hagenkord. "I hope that it will stay that way even after the crisis and that" we can finally get back "will not gain the upper hand." After months of contact restrictions, a real danger. Especially since the danger posed by the virus is still very abstract for most people and is usually ignored. Just like the thought of death. "There is currently more talk about death," says Hagenkord. "At the same time, Corona separates us from dying as long as we are not allowed to go to old people's homes and funerals." This leads to an alienation, so to speak.

"We think" as a recipe for success

Professor Immo Fritsche, social psychologist at the University of Leipzig, confirms that we don't just have to stick together in crises: "Our evolutionary success is essentially due to the fact that we work and live together in groups Basic equipment and is our evolutionary recipe for success. " A look at the falling number of infections shows that we were actually successful with regard to Corona. "The restrictions work because most of them participated in a very disciplined manner," says Hagenkord. The responsible behavior of many has brought the situation under control. "So far, at any rate, Germany has gotten away with a black eye."

Don't jeopardize success

But now it is important not to jeopardize the jointly achieved successes lightly. A big challenge given the uncertainty of how much longer the restrictions can be expected. And unfortunately it is precisely the current successes that critics use as an argument that the measures were exaggerated and not necessary to that extent. Hagenkord admits: "The big problem is that many livelihoods are currently at stake." He understands everyone who is at the end of your patience. Nonetheless, he considers the cautious easing to be expedient.

Learn from the crisis

In spite of all the challenges that the virus is currently facing society, social psychologist Fritsche also sees opportunities for social life: "Perhaps our life - if we prove ourselves as a solidary and active society - will be more shaped by the feeling of personal responsibility for it To wear whole. " This "collective experience of effectiveness" could then possibly be transferred to our motivation to tackle even greater collective crises together. There is enough to do: "After all, climate change and the extinction of species are not making a Corona break."

Shaken awake by Corona?

The corona crisis as a training camp for what may still lie ahead? Hagenkord is skeptical: "Whether we will show solidarity in even bigger crises remains to be seen - for example when we have to change our lifestyle due to climate change." For example, more and more people are denying the findings of climate researchers. "The way we deal with science will show whether we have actually learned from the crisis," says Hagenkord. "To what extent are we ready to learn and to make new findings the benchmark for our own actions? I hope that Corona shakes us up and that we - as individuals and as a society - recognize that we can no longer just live like that."