Twenty years ago, our world went through a devastating pandemic that had a lasting impact. If all did not obviously changed, there are small everyday things that have evolved silently, without us paying any real attention to them.
However, like water pierces the rock, little by little, drop by drop, our behaviors have changed. After centuries, a millennium in certain regions of the world, of shaking hands to greet each other, we have changed. This old practice, mainly present in Europe, had spread with the spread of European beyond its borders centuries in the past.
Originally reserved for knights and diplomats, this handshake was a sign of confidence, of transparency: I gave you my hand to take to show you that I was not armed and that, above all, I did not think yet about taking my weapon.
Physical contact was a token of trust and transparency. But then came this invisible enemy, so small that it was transparent to the naked eyed and thus the handshake, an almost universal gesture (at least in the world of business and international trade) became synonymous with risk.
No one was carrying the sword in 2020, but you could still be an unconscious bearer of a weapon of mass destruction that threw that old gesture into the dustbin of history.
Obviously, it didn’t happen overnight. Many, on the contrary, quickly sought to return to these old habits. But the motivation was no longer there. What was the point of continuing a gesture that recalled difficult memories?
And human genius starting to work its way. In some communities it was just about continuing the traditional gestures, developed for centuries, by adding just a little more distance. Asian communities have been the ones to which many other communities have turned to, as it has been the case for several decades now, with Asia having become the trend-setting continent since the mid-20th century.
But beyond being inspired by its fellows, humanity has started to create new gestures. Impacted by the memory of a pandemic, our social codes have evolved. Weird, uncomfortable at first, new gestures have gradually crept into our lives.
And 20 years after the crisis, it is no longer a question of repeating the gestures of a distant time when the first threat for each individual was the other, this other conqueror and guided by an instinct of survival, ready to draw his weapon in a warlike drive or in search of a military heroism won at the expense of the lives of others. It is now a question of demonstrating our wish and our will to protect the other, to show him or her that we adopt healthy gestures which will avoid inadvertently contaminating them. Then more and more the hands are raised, the bodies are stretched as if to formalize a clean stop and maintain the distances.
If we are now more physically distant, the new human social gestures have become markers of our closeness, symbols of our concern for the other.
O tempora, o mores...