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nedelja, 28 novembra, 2021

A crisis of coronavirus or human dignity?

by Zala Tomašič

I opened Instagram a few days ago and came across how some of my friends are partying – some in a garage, where they were sharing bottles and cigarettes, carelessly hugging each other, dancing together and not wearing masks, and others in a bar where the situation was similar. With all this I cannot help myself but wonder whether I am extremely naïve, as I spend most of my free time at home accompanied by our dog, with apparently rather optimistic, gullible and foolish belief that others do the same.

I have no excuses for such a naïve mind-set. Despite strict measures in recent weeks, the number of infections is still (too) high. The numbers alone should have told me that, unlike my family, many people do not respect the measures. Not to mention the social media posts and people’s statements – including some politicians -persuading people to not follow the measures. I should have known better. And at some point I did. I was aware that some people cannot stand the current government and do not believe in the existence of COVID-19 or the danger it poses. But somehow I did not want to believe that there is so much intolerance, selfishness, irrationality, anger, and hatred among people, among my fellow citizens, and all this for no justifiable reason.

Economy, public life or even health of people are not the biggest victims of this epidemic, despite the fact that all these sectors have been severely affected. The biggest victim of the new coronavirus is human dignity. Knowing that we, as a community, failed the test of compassion, help, and patience should be a wake-up call for all of us of what we have become. Our compassion for the weak, our empathy for fellow human beings and our ability to comprehend and adapt are commonly used as arguments as to why we are different or even better than animals. The epidemic proved that we are not. In fact, by observing animals it becomes clear that they show compassion and empathy, help the weak, and understand more than most people attribute them – they show all these things that are supposed to differentiate us from animals. They even might differentiate us, but in the exact opposite sense. As a community we (no longer) share these values, but they do.

Moreover, there are a lot of shows and films about the post-apocalyptic world on television, all depicting a similar scenario. People do not come and work together – despite the fact that collaboration would make things easier –they rather kill each other. Everyone cares only and exclusively for themselves, and the strongest people, who are allowed everything, survive. Everything else is the course of evolution. There is no morality, no compassion, no patience. Perhaps, this should not surprise us as many thinkers had already described the state of human nature in anarchy. Thomas Hobbes was convinced that only through a social contract, people would be able to leave this state, rise above it and progress as a society. However, now it seems that we are already living in an anarchy-like state despite the social contract, considering how many people refuse to respect the measures.

As an optimist, I prefer to see the world, Slovenia, and our society in a brighter and more positive light. Perhaps this sometimes leads me to naivety, but I still refuse to believe that as a society we have completely lost human dignity. Disrespect for measures, violent protests, vulgar and insulting comments are only a reflection of a certain group of people, not the majority – at least I hope that is the case. I also hope that most of us are aware that as a society we will fail if we start behaving so obscenely, disrespectfully, intolerantly, and patronisingly as are those who oppose government measures that are supported and proposed by the medical profession. We all miss socialising and normal life, but these difficult times show how strong we are as people. House parties seem quite harmless if we think only of ourselves – most young people recover from the virus without any major complications. However, this does not mean that complications are not possible, and even more importantly, we can infect our grandparents or someone else, for whom a new coronavirus infection is not just an innocent cold.

Zala Tomašič is a postgraduate student of international relations at King’s College London.

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