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Justice and Change in a Global World

Unless you have been living under a rock, you must be aware of the global pandemic we are all caught up in. Since the spread of the coronavirus is of the infectious kind, measures to tackle it largely depend upon strategies such as social distancing, avoiding social gatherings, public places and wearing masks. It has been observed that social distancing has played a significant role in slowing down and containing the virus. However, despite repeated warnings, many have ignored the measures of social distancing. The reason I have selected this topic is that I have observed the casual attitude of the people concerning social distancing. I find it disturbing and wanted to give my opinion and views about it.

When faced with a virus without any treatment available to tackle it, there is nothing to do except resort to primitive measures of containing the disease, which includes social distancing. The rise in numbers indicates that we are failing. Some would argue that social distancing is a privilege. Many people cannot afford to lock themselves at home. But what about those who disregard safety measures for unimportant reasons? Essential workers and front line workers cannot afford to stay at home. At the cost of their lives, they are stepping out just to provide their services to us. Then there is the other category of people who frequent public places, like restaurants and bars because they want to "hang out on a weekend" or are "bored" being stuck at home.

Since the inception of COVID, there are two categories of people who have been identified. The first category consists of the rule followers, who from day one have been adhering to the safety measures laid out by the government and health ministries such as wearing masks and maintaining social distance and stepping out of their houses in case of emergencies. The second category consists of the risk-takers who have been living their lives like they used to before the pandemic. They have little or no regard for the rules.

Officials believe that most risk-takers are young people. They are rebellious due to their youth and ignorance of the situation as a whole. Not only are they confident about not getting infected with the virus, but they are also ignorant of the fact that just because they are not showing symptoms, does not mean they cannot be carriers and infect others who are more vulnerable. This misinformation can be attributed to all the rumours and unreliable news that has been doing the rounds ever since the pandemic started. Even then, the level of ignorance and the casual approach is baffling, to say the least.

So what can us as a community do? Encourage people to come up with alternatives to the old practices. For example, order more take out from their favourite food joint instead of dining in. It's time people embrace the "new normal" and come up with innovative ways to get things done without risking their own lives or the lives of others.

Making a personal appeal to the people, especially rule-breakers, might help. Bringing their children or the elderly into the dialogue and pushing them to think of the consequences of their reckless attitude. The message can be framed positively. Health experts can be roped in for more authenticity and to avoid misinformation.

Encourage people to tactfully call out the ones who are not adhering to the rules. It is not only the job of the police or health practitioners to monitor people - normal people as responsible citizens can also call out unsafe behaviour. If someone is standing too close to you in a queue or coughing without covering their mouths, do not hesitate to call them out. Educate them about the consequences of their actions and reason with then to be careful in future.

Coronavirus is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. Even if vaccines become available, the changes are somewhat permanent. At present, all we have is our attitude and behaviour that needs to change. It is difficult to forget the ways of the past and embrace the new normal, especially which it comes with its share of uncertainty and fear. Nevertheless, it is high time people understand that they are not just practising safety measures to protect themselves, they are also protecting those around them from getting infected. We are all in this fight together. 

References for Disregard for Social Distancing Rules Amidst Pandemic Blues

Patel, J. A., Nielsen, F. B. H., Badiani, A. A., Assi, S., Unadkat, V. A., Patel, B., Ravindrane, R., & Wardle, H. (2020). Poverty, inequality and COVID-19: the forgotten vulnerable. Public Health, 183, 110–111. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2020.05.006

Simonov, A., Sacher, S., Dube, J.-P. H., & Biswas, S. (2020). The Persuasive Effect of Fox News: Non-Compliance with Social Distancing During the Covid-19 Pandemic. SSRN Electronic Journal. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3600088

Taylor, S., Landry, C. A., Paluszek, M. M., & Asmundson, G. J. G. (2020). Reactions to COVID-19: Differential predictors of distress, avoidance, and disregard for social distancing. Journal of Affective Disorders, 277, 94–98. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2020.08.002

Other Sources:

Steinmetz, K. (2020, April 13). Standing Too Close. Not Covering Coughs. if Someone Is Violating Social Distancing Rules, What Do You Do? Time. Https://time.Com/5819816/coronavirus-Social-Distancing/

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