Culture and Society

Compassion In the Age of the Coronavirus

With the onslaught of the Coronavirus, the realities of daily life all over the world are quickly changing. The traditional ways that we as human beings interact must be adjusted into what feels like an impersonal and counterintuitive model. The life-affirming connections that simple handshakes and hugs foster must stop completely. People have to stay several feet apart out in public while not touching their faces. It seems safer to assume that everyone has it and to let this color how you carry out any interactions with people.

What I find the most troublesome about these necessary precautions is how they might encourage people to harbor a panic-driven fear of the disease and each other. By and large, interactions fueled by fear can open the door to racism, violence, and all sorts of phobias and anxieties that simply do not do anyone any good.

As an alternative, I propose that we proceed into these scary and uncertain times with compassion in our hearts both for ourselves and everyone in our daily lives. This involves a shift in our mindset about the precautions we are all taking to safeguard our wellbeing.

Much talk is circulating about social distancing as a way to combat the exponential viral growth of this disease. Staying indoors and forbidding any interaction with the outside world is a core practice in this ideology. Rather than relegating this behavior to one based upon fear of others who have the contagion, I believe that it is rooted in a far more compassionate framework.

When we practice social distancing, we essentially limit the spread of the virus. This means that our healthcare system, including emergency rooms, respirators, medical staff, and other important resources, can be utilized by people who are truly at a greater risk of dying. The fewer infections there are, the more resources we have to save more lives. In a worst-case scenario, healthcare workers would have to pick and choose who is more deserving of treatment if all the available options become scarce. I cannot imagine having to make those kinds of choices.

Social distancing is an act of compassion because it makes resources more available once Covid-19 hits a critical mass. If I do not get sick, then that frees up medicine and a respirator for someone else (potentially even an elderly loved one) who desperately needs it to save their lives.

This is just one example of how we can understand the compassion behind the preventive measures we are taking to mitigate the rising catastrophe.

Ultimately, we all play a part in saving lives in our own communities with the precautions we take. Let your actions be guided by compassion, and hopefully, even with the inevitable casualties to come, we can prevent the devastation as much as we can humanely, respectfully, and with the dignity we all deserve.

-Roqué

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