As much as it sounds like I’m playing a broken record, I’m back with a sequel to a post that I had penned a week ago. It’s the three syllable name that’s the buzzword now: Corona. A virus that has engulfed and shaken the world and is giving people sleepless nights. As the intensity of the problem deepens, I reflect on what has come out of this pandemic other than illness and deaths. What picture of mankind have we seen?
It is lamentable that relations between the US and China have worsened over COVID-19. At a time when cooperation and solidarity ought to be the key, we have the world’s two leading nations pointing fingers at each other.
President Trump blames China for the origin and spread of the virus. Chinese authorities ask American journalists from The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal to hand over their credentials, meaning that they need to leave the country. Trump’s use of the term “Chinese virus” has given rise to bitterness. Although he defends his stance, saying it does not have a racial tone but simply specifies where the virus came from, experts warn that the term can result in xenophobia. The POTUS also claimed that he had used the term because China tried to blame the virus on US soldiers. These actions speak volumes about adult immaturity. We are not in a position to play the blame and retaliation game when human lives are at stake.
For the moment, personal and political motives need to take a backseat. Rather than criticizing each other, global leaders need to unite to find solutions, if any, to the problem. A tweet from UNESCO chirps the right message: “Kind quick reminder: viruses have no nationality”!
In conjunction with the spread of the coronavirus is the fake-news pandemic that is sweeping WhatsApp. All over the world, false news has scared and misled people. For example, an online rumor that ibuprofen accelerates the spread of coronavirus appeared on German language WhatsApp as a voice message. It is sad how pranks are being played with human fears and emotions.
We pass the test of humanity and empathy when we conduct ourselves with dignity and patience in trying times. Unfortunately, many dark shades of human nature have come to light these days.
To panic in times of crisis is a natural human response. No one wants to run out of essentials in times of an emergency. But that does not warrant that you mindlessly shop and literally hijack the shelves of the supermarket. Hoarding has become a global phenomenon along with the virus. It only hints at selfishness when we are just thinking about our own needs without being considerate that there could be others who are in as much or more need than us.
It is understandable that people are in deep fear of catching the virus, but that does not justify violent behavior. A man riding a bike was beaten up in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur city because he had allegedly sneezed in public without covering his face with a handkerchief.
Like tiny tots squabbling over a toy, adults, while shopping, have fought over toilet paper rolls, even resulting in a stampede in Australia. In a separate incident in San Francisco, shoppers resorted to a brawl over social distancing at a grocery store. People are definitely losing their minds and have failed to even draw the line between a trivial happening and an emergency situation.
In the middle of the recklessness and irresponsible human behavior, we also have reasons to smile. We see those dedicated teams of health professionals and paramedics who have put their lives at risk and have worked around the clock to treat those infected with the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation in the wake of the pandemic was a speech to bolster the morale of the Indian masses, but what I particularly appreciated was his request to show respect to those in essential services who have been working tirelessly. To express their gratitude, citizens have been asked to stand near doors, near windows, and on balconies on March 22nd at 5:00 PM and applaud these noble individuals by ringing bells, blowing whistles, and clapping continuously for 5 minutes. This is definitely something on a very minuscule level in return for the huge magnitude of service rendered, but nevertheless, it will be a symbolic gesture that the country is one.
The world still has individuals filled with the milk of human kindness who restore our faith in our brethren. Among other stories recounted in the article 17 Stories of Kindness During the Corona Virus Pandemic on InspireMore is the story of Nathan Nichols. A landlord from Maine, he has decided not to collect rent from his tenants in April to ease their financial worries.
No one is in a position to predict when this pandemic will come to a close. The need of the hour is for the world to be one, to shed differences of color, religion, and nationality and stand united. Every act of kindness counts, so let us help each other in our own small ways. Besides following the steps essential for our physical well being, let us all have patience, empathy in plentiful amounts, love, and consideration for one another and try to beat the virus as a unifying force!
(This article appeared as a Featured Post in Women’s Web )