We could all use some encouragement right now, most of us hunkered down, washing our hands, full of foreboding, and wondering just how long this strange new coronavirus out of China will upend our lives and one way or another imperil us all. Since January, I’ve been following the news of its spread, from the terror at the source in Wuhan to at least 142 countries as I write this, including America, and the misery now engulfing the worst new hot spot, Europe. This pandemic has brought forth heroes — the Chinese netizens braving the Communist Party’s censors and lies, the dedicated doctors working themselves to exhaustion and in some cases succumbing to the virus themselves. But even these stories of inspiring people have been grim.
Many of these scenes are beautiful, haunting, but suffused with sadness.
So, how incredibly welcome to find in this landscape something so defiantly beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes. And, yes, I came across it this afternoon on President Trump’s Twitter feed. Whatever you make of Trump’s tweets—love them, hate them, or simply don’t care—this one is worth a look. It’s a 54-second video clip, which as best I can determine was filmed in Italy last September. Italy is right now the hardest-hit country after China, where this virus originated. More than 21,000 Italians have been confirmed with the disease, and more than 1,400 have died. Striving to support each other, in a country now under lockdown, Italians have been singing from their balconies. Many of these scenes are beautiful, haunting, but suffused with sadness.
On Saturday afternoon, Trump sent out a tweet under the caption, in all caps, “THE UNITED STATES LOVES ITALY!” In today’s context of the pandemic, in the shadow of this virus, it is glorious. It serves as a message of defiance, of joyous humanity, of a dawn to come, and you can’t do better than have set it to Pavarotti: Please, turn up the sound, and have a look.