The real danger of the COVID-19: discrimination

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A picture of a used mask left on the ground

In the last months the world experienced once again something terrible.

A dangerous virus took over many countries in the world.

Many people have been infected, from young adults to old ones.

It affected people deeply, hurting them both physically and emotionally.

As much as they tried to defend themselves and ignore their frustration, there was no way they couldn’t think about it.

No one would have imagined, it could spread at this speed and intensity

in all the countries impacted.

No one ever thought that in 2020 something like this could still happen, but it did.

We are all at risk.

Discrimination took over the world.

I know what you think, you thought I was starting some kind of emotional reportage about COVID-19 but I am not. Besides the fact that I’m not a doctor and I could never write something about it, I am tired of all the fake news and the media pressure causing panic all around and not giving useful information. If it’s true that I’m not a doctor and I can’t give advice about the medical perspective, I’m human and as such I wanted to ask all of you a question:

What’s going on with everyone?

I know you are scared for you and for your family and friends, I know it sucks to have to be careful all the time, to change some of your habits or to bear the atmosphere around you, but it is not enough to stop being kind with the people around you, to stop being curious about the world and the future, to stop planning your summer vacation in Italy, to stop eating in your favorite Chinese restaurant or to stop thinking healthy and panic.

When all of this ends, what will remain will be the way you went through this and the way you didn’t stop being a good and enthusiast human.

The more days pass by, the more I read news about episodes of violence and discrimination related to the topic of the new Coronavirus. From Chinese people hit in the middle of the street to outrageous advertisements making fun of Italians, what I see is a loss of common sense

“Time and again, we’re asked to discover,

through love and suffering,

that we are at heart the same”

Mark Nepo

Stigma is the real scary virus

Nobody could ever choose whether to get sick like this or not, or to have to go through a complex and frustrating situation like the one we’re living. We must be but without talking nonsense. We all know we could all be there and we all know what happens to us doesn’t define us as human beings.

Stigmatization is the real virus we should all be scared of, because it seems like it takes only an event like this to disrupt all the work done every day in the past decades to fight against discrimination and stigma.

The unreasonable attitude of many people is what really fueled the panic in this situation: as if hitting a Chinese person thinking he was responsible of everything could be the final solution to the stop of the spread.

The absurdity of this is demonstrated by the fact that also many other people experienced negative treatment and discrimination just because they had Asian traits.

How can you consider yourself able to understand something complex like a virus if you can’t even distinguish someone coming from China from someone coming from Kazakhstan? How can you remotely think that using violence or hurting someone else’s feelings would improve your situation?

Where is humanity? We are all from the same world, we are all humans, we have all feelings and fears. We have all the risk of getting sick and NOTHING makes one person worthy of health more than another.

Stigmatization in a context like this is not dangerous just because it triggers racism and xenophobia, but most of all because it puts everyone at risk. Many people could fake not to have the virus just because of being scared of being labelled as “the one with the Coronavirus” and by acting like this, they would be empowering the number of people with the disease.

Getting the virus is not a shame, it is part of being human

We could get coronavirus as we could get influenza and it doesn’t have to transform in another way or excuse to spread negative attitudes.

What represents a shame is the fact that someone could be selfish enough not to think about the danger it could cause the omission of the communication with the relative health institutes of a possible infection. Being irresponsible and selfish in this case means putting at risk the lives of all of us with outcomes that could overcome our imagination. Just think about the lives of all the refugees around the world, living already in situations of uncertainty and impossibility of getting enough or proper healthcare.

Think about the people living in the most dangerous or poor areas of the world, where the health and hygienic conditions are so unsatisfying and weak that it would take a blow of the wind to cause a real tragedy. In all the countries where the virus spread until now, the health system is solid and capable, in spite of the difficulties, to provide cures for everyone as long as we are responsible enough to follow their instructions.

While the health system and the governments are doing their best to go through this emergency, everyone should do the best to spread kindness, solidarity and support.

Everyone has to be supportive and empathetic to the people involved, not only because it could happen to anyone but because we are part of a huge single family called humankind.

The world itself says it : “human” and “kind”. It’s in our nature and yet we seem to forget about it many times. As much as we feel part of this big family when positive amazing discoveries or events take place, we must feel part of it when difficulties menace us.

Just like we stand by our friends’ side when something bad happens, we need to stand by any country going through this struggle showing our bonding and sympathy. After all, what kind of meaning has a racial discrimination in a globalized world where everything we do or own is imported from abroad?

It’s just the most nonsense and incoherent thing of the world.

Everyone in the circle of life, earlier or later, needs someone’s helping hand and you’ll never know when the one needing support will be you. How would it be to be the one stigmatized?

Let’s stop being dramatic and offended just when something happens to us, because whatever happens in the world is a matter regarding all of us. We can’t consider ourselves à l’avant-garde as long as we still think of ourselves only as part of a nation and not as a part of the world.

We can’t demand a better future and not caring about solving problems such as stigmatization.

As much as you want the world to be in line with progress,

you should all try to be in line with it also and

stop the useless, painful, old-fashioned

practice of discrimination.

We can’t be defined by a virus.

We can’t be defined by a single word.

WE ARE MORE.

For more information about the new coronavirus and how to protect yourself, visit unicef.org/coronavirus or watch the video below:

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