Coronavirus: Human Vulnerability and Lessons
The Association for Community and Dialogue (Acid) is deeply saddened by the outbreak of coronavirus that has spread rapidly in the city of Wuhan, China, and in a smaller scale in some countries.
The Philippines has reported the first coronavirus death outside China. It is saddening to see another report on an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in Hunan province in China. Acid would like to extend our hand of solidarity with the affected families of Wuhan and the global family.
In Malaysia quite a number of preventive measures have been instituted by the authorities and in the private realm to combat the coronavirus. The media have done a good job keeping us informed about the disease and the government’s measures to combat it.
In mosques, churches and temples, congregations have been reminded on steps to contain the coronavirus. In hospitals I notice quite a number of people wearing masks. This shows that people have taken the disease seriously since the information concerning the deadly virus was disseminated.
Various measures have been instituted, from the policy level right down to individual hygiene. But the fundamental truth is that, with all the hype about technological and security advances in the world, there is still a form of human vulnerability to events that are beyond the comprehension of the finite human mind even though we might have the best scientific community and technological progress in the world.
In Malaysia there is so much talk about nationalism, race and religion. How would race and ideological religion help when what is required is common collaboration among all national and global communities to look for solutions affecting humanity such as the cure for diseases? When there is a virus epidemic, every human being is affected.
It is ironic that the president of China used the word “demonic” to describe the coronavirus, when materialist, atheist China does not believe in God and principles of good and evil. If there is something demonic, there should be also something good, and if there is something good, there should be a moral law that creates goodness and that moral law has its origin in the belief in God. This requires an understanding that good means are as equally important as good ends. In any disease prevention, there should be the means and the ends related to hygiene and its related ecosystem.
The limitations of understanding the right means and ends call for spiritual humility. One does not know everything and there are situations that are beyond human comprehension. The very belief in God should empower humanity to seek wisdom through our own being and to live in solidarity with one another which is beyond ideological limitations.
Hopefully, our common human vulnerability to this deadly virus will inspire people around the globe to create more medical discoveries for the common good of humanity instead of channeling national budgets to manufacturing and selling military equipment to war-torn countries and harboring the delusion that human security as whole can be merely protected through national economic, scientific and military advancement.
Wisdom requires focusing on the essential, which is the spirituality of life and how to empower life through self and community development that is less materialistic and focuses more on the value of human persons than false security. The coronavirus and other diseases, over decades, have shown us how vulnerable we are in this planet and the need for spiritual humility.
Ronald Benjamin is a human resources practitioner based in Ipoh, Malaysia. He is currently secretary of the Association for Community and Dialogue (Pertubuhan Kebajikan, Komunity dan Dialog).