Put people before pandemic


Put people before pandemic

Melissa Martin

Monday, April 06, 2020

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God bless us ten, Amen. God bless us four and no more. God bless us three and we agree. God bless us two and not you. Hoarding and hunkering is self-protection, but rooted in panic. Can't we make our circle bigger and include all God's children during these taxing and tiring times?

Survival is a basic human instinct. Fear of illness and impending death crouches at the internal epicentre of the coronavirus crisis. Around the periphery is the fear of hunger, thirst, and lack of necessities. But courage and compassion to care for strangers is the crux of the Good Samaritan story.

“Don't forget about these tools, people! They can be the most powerful drugs we have to use in this pandemic!” wrote Frank Gabrin, MD, on Facebook before he died from symptoms consistent with COVID-19. His list of words — tolerance, kindness, empathy, compassion, love for no reason, patience, understanding, caring, sharing, giving, human dignity, selflessness, emotional connection, support, curiosity, innovation, resilience, endurance, steadiness, sufferance, altruism, benevolence, courtesy, decency, gentleness, sweetness, goodwill, peace, grace, service, tact, helpfulness, thoughtfulness, good intentions, charity, tenderness, open heart, mercy, consideration, condolence, smiles, reassurance, warmth, diligence, fortitude, perseverance, persistent, poise, humility, restraint, appreciation, friendship, passion, devotion, composure, calmness, generosity, softness, blessing, reciprocity, self-sacrifice, self-care, science, prayer, guidance, flexibility, participation, allowing, influencing, leading, reverence — call for us to stop and think.

Lest we forget

When the pandemic ends — and it will end — humans must learn lessons and better prepare for future microbe warfare on Earth. Leaders of all countries must practise humility and communicate with other citizens on our planet.

“We have met the enemy and he is us,” said Pogo in a comic strip by author Walt Kelly. Humans are not the enemy — the coronavirus is the enemy. The humans in Wuhan, China, are not the enemy. Viruses don't have a nationality and they do not discriminate whom they infect.

American Pandemic: The Lost Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic (2017) by Nancy Bristow needs to be studied. Focused on the primary players in this drama — patients and their families, friends and community, public health experts and health care professionals — historian Nancy K Bristow draws on multiple perspectives to highlight the complex interplay between social identity, cultural norms, memory, and the epidemic. Bristow has combed a wealth of primary sources, including letters, diaries, oral histories, memoirs, novels, newspapers, magazines, photographs, government documents, and health care literature. She shows that, though the pandemic caused massive disruption in the most basic patterns of American life, influenza did not create long-term social or cultural change, serving instead to reinforce the status quo and the differences and disparities that defined American life.

No doubt, books about the 'Pandemic of 2020' will be published. We will know what worked and what didn't work. We will mourn the deceased. We will recover, reflect, and regroup. The human race will carry on. But people must come before political agendas, before products and productivity, and before a pandemic.

“What we learn in times of pestilence: That there are more things to admire in men than to despise.”―Albert Camus (The Plague)

Melissa Martin, PhD, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist in the US. Send comments to the Observer or melissamartincounselor@live.com (www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com)

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