The Barcaccia Fountain and the Spanish steps deserted during the quarantine imposed by the Italian authorities to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus


© Reuters / Remo Casilli


Klaatu barada nikto!” In the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still, this is the phrase that the alien Klaatu uses to halt the robot Gort’s attack. In the film, gentle Klaatu brings a message to humanity from the Galactic Confederation, a body protecting peace among the worlds belonging to it. His message is simple: if humanity insists on pursuing its self-destructive ideals, the Confederation will be forced to destroy the human race to prevent its conflicts from spreading to other planets. In the 2008 remake, Keanu Reeves, who plays Klaatu, includes the environment among the reasons for the ultimatum, highlighting how human greed is destroying a habitable planet, a unique resource in the universe.
Both films end on a hopeful note, though, as humans watch the spaceship return to space, realising that they need to change if they are to prove themselves worthy of their place among the stars.
In 2020, the COVID-19 crisis aroused in us an almost forgotten feeling in the age of technology: fear of nature. For months, we holed up in our homes waiting for an invisible storm to pass, an omnipresent, impartial and incorruptible enemy that tested our social and economic structure and demonstrated its dramatically effective superiority. In many countries, the health crisis revealed inadequacies and social problems, forcing many leaders to face up to a choice: either repeat the mistakes of the past or commit to change.
Still today, far too many people do not enjoy the most basic human rights. So, let’s turn this coronavirus into our ultimatum. Let’s make it a reason to be better. After all, it’s easier to stand together when you face a common enemy.

Giacomo Federico Rubini