Noted Yale professor and physician Nicholas Christakis – knowing his countrymen’s penchant for disobedience – urged them to obey a lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 after they had openly flouted advice not to go out.
In a post on Twitter after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the almost-full shutdown that requires people not to leave their homes except to go to the supermarket, pharmacy, doctor or hospital, Christakis told them to follow the law.
“A note to my fellow Greeks,” he wrote, praising Mitsotakis for closing schools and imposing additional restrictions on movement. “You should not gather outside. This is not a holiday. Stay home!” Christakis wrote, adding that people should only go out once a week for essentials and “not touch friends,” to abide by the two-meter (6.56-foot) social distance.
“Den thelo na klapso tin Romiosini,” he concluded, paraphrasing the Greek poet Yiannis Ritsos whose words were set to music by veteran composer Mikis Theodorakis.
Christakis’ third book, Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society, made the New York Times Best Seller list in its debut week in 2019 and was described by Bill Gates as “optimistic and terrific,” what the world would seem to need right now.
Blueprint explores the idea that evolution has given humans a suite of beneficial capacities, including love, friendship, cooperation, and learning; humans have innate proclivities to make a good society, one that is similar worldwide.
“For too long,” Christakis writes, “the scientific community has been overly focused on the dark side of our biological heritage: our capacity for tribalism, violence, selfishness, and cruelty. The bright side has been denied the attention it deserves.”
With the number of cases and death toll mounting, and hospitals not having enough critical equipment such as ventilators or respirators – or gloves and masks – as governments have been slow to respond, he tweeted another warning.
“People are focused on ventilators & anti-virals, but, sadly, as a former hospice doctor, I’m worried we may not have enough opioids & anxiolytics to treat people we cannot give ventilators to, to ease suffering. I hope we are planning, though I fervently hope none of this happens,” he said of the crisis.