Today, we learnt that Sally and David Abel who were among 74 British nationals quarantined on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Yokohama, Japan had tested positive for the Coronavirus. Their frustration with the British Foreign Office for not being able to get them off the cruise ship and home was obvious, particularly in the light of the fact that American passengers had been repatriated only the day before. The sudden appearance of this hitherto unknown virus remains something of a mystery, but its ability to spread quickly from person to person before symptoms became obvious was alarming – hence the need for a recommended 14 day quarantine period. The problem is that while the vast majority of people will only experience a mild illness, a few (currently 3%) can become critically ill, usually those who are already elderly and frail with respiratory problems, or health workers who have been exposed to the virus over a lengthy and sustained period. Despite the draconian measures, the Chinese have been largely praised for their handling of the situation and even here in the UK, Parliament has passed measures allowing the Police to force those at risk of coronavirus into quarantine, with the Health Secretary warning that the spread of the virus is a ‘serious and imminent threat’ to the British public. So should we be alarmed?
Well yes and no! We shouldn’t be alarmed i.e. panic, but we should be concerned – and our response should be kind, careful and considerate. Should it become evident that we have the coronavirus within our community, we shouldn’t be alarmist, but we should take care not to cough, splutter and sneeze over one another. We should be disciplined when it comes to our personal hygiene, washing hands etc and sufferers should be willing to self-isolate themselves and contact their GP by telephone as soon as they feel poorly.
In many ways these simple but profound measures may be viewed as wise and prudent acts of kindness which demonstrate a natural and loving concern for one another as well as for one’s self. Whereas the situation could be so easily exasperated if we mistakenly think that we are somehow immune to the illness or that it’s someone else’s problem. Christians will immediately see the significance of the Biblical command to not only love God but to love one’s neighbour as one’s self (Luke 10.27) in such circumstances, because it’s only by paying due regard to each aspect of this command (neighbour and self) that we can truly look after each other and protect our communities.
Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble. Psalm 41.1
4 thoughts on “What Can The Coronavirus Teach Us About Human Kindness?”
Unfortunately, whilst one can agree with the exhortations to raise and maintain habits of public hygiene, it is our human-ness which often gets in the way.
Human beings are tribal.
Most of us are much more comfortable as part of the majority, because it means we won’t stand out as ‘different’, we won’t have to explain why we aren’t following the Herd, and perhaps most importantly we won’t be lonely or shunned or ridiculed. (I think that’s why God chose certain people to be His prophets as it often involved rejection!)
So in human society we look to our Leaders to tell us what to do in a crisis. That gives us a sense of direction, it gives us security as in still being part of ‘the Herd’, and it gives us someone to blame if the Leaders got it wrong…
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Yes, we are indeed very human and we don’t always act even in our own best interests – let alone somebody else’s! But however tempting a ‘herd’ mentality might be at the end of the day we are all responsible for our actions. The Biblical commandment to ‘love God and your neighbour as yourself’ suggests that God also expects us to take that responsibility seriously. In the light of present concerns about the Coronavirus we should do all that we can to be careful and disciplined about our personal hygiene or we will only exacerbate the problem and will have to accept our own fair share of the blame.
Hmmm.. yes if we put the Lord first in our lives, we know that we should take our responsibilities seriously. But as regards the Coronavirus although personal hygiene is always important,I understood this particular virus is airborne?
Yes, once again your are right! It is an airborne virus, but also spread through people’s cough’s and sneezes and putting their hands to their mouths etc. Which is why the washing of hands and other surfaces has a large part to play in containing the spread of the disease.