Friday, April 3, 2020

Social Distancing and Building a 'Prevention Fence'

"If you can keep your head when all about you/ Are losing theirs and blaming it on you... is the first line from the poem 'If' by Kipling that keeps returning in these times of anxiety when many are looking for answers, overcome with information not always helpful.

In the Peace Column of the Catholic Times, the writer gives us her thoughts on the issue. With the prolonged  Corona 19  crisis, anxiety, and lethargy, depression, and stress are rapidly increasing. One of the reasons for this has been determined to be 'social distancing' in society.

This is a psychological infection that occurs when being alone increases. In a recent survey, the government's lack of credibility because of a failure to communicate wisely and the media's way of reporting the present situation was raised as problems. The level of discrimination and aversion towards the regions where the outbreak was the most serious was mentioned. Experts consistently point out that if you neglect the psychological defense efforts against Corona 19, a bigger problem may arise after the crisis.

As social concern becomes focused on Corona 19, interest in the vulnerable groups diminishes. Public parks, a resting place for the elderly, free food service for low-income families are closed due to concerns about the spread of the infection. Welfare facilities with vulnerable groups, complaints of mask shortages and lack of safety supplies and the like receive the same response: we don't know how long the situation will last.

In the midst of this, as the economic impact of Corona 19 becomes full-scale, the controversy over the introduction of "emergency disaster relief payments" has become a political issue. Although there are active discussions on how to save the economy and worries when the basic income is paid unconditionally.

In the general election season, (South Korea's 21st legislative election will be held on April 15)  politicians are also criticized for being irresponsible in their strategies—seen only as a means to receive votes.

It's necessary to seriously consider whether the neglect of the injustices of the socio-economic situation is only a temporary measure or will continue after the crisis is over. The class affected by the economic downturn caused by the spread of the virus are the elderly, poor, disabled, migrant workers, the socially disadvantaged people.

Pope Francis emphasized that goodwill combined with strong responsibility and the cooperation of appropriate authorities in these difficult times, adds to the value that the world desperately needs.

Quarantine was seen as the best way to eradicate the virus. It seemed easy, but it gradually shrinks and paralyzes human life as a whole and leads to an abnormal state. Also, "social distance" can lead to indifference to people who need help, we need to keep in mind the harmful side effects of these methods.

As Corona 19 is spreading around the world, trusting and cooperating with medical staff and quarantine authorities is necessary. It is desirable for the government to respond sensitively to discrimination and hate, and for the media to report solutions and countermeasures. Politicians should put the experts ahead and retreat to build consensus and make policy. Only cooperation with others in the community can we build a "prevention fence" protecting us from the virus.

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