Will Humanity Survive COVID-19?

We are living through unprecedented times. Everything is fracturing around us, from tanking global economies to city-wide lockdowns to individuals unable to see their loved ones. These are times that will be documented in history books for years to come — accounts of a global pandemic that brought the entire world to a standstill in three months.

We are losing our sense of humanity — an underlying sense of love and respect for those around us.

During the progression of the outbreak in North America, we’ve received conflicting messages from our leaders. At first, there was a sense of disregard brushing aside the chances of COVID-19 drastically affecting our lives. There were sympathetic messages for those affected in China and South Korea. However, the majority of the narrative focused on the economic impact, forgetting the social aspect. How would supply chains be affected? What will happen to the stock markets? Will my Amazon order still arrive in two days?

Then the narrative completely changed. Within a matter of days, the COVID-19 situation went from Instagram memes to DEFCON 1, a ban on all travel from Europe and mandates for social distancing. New data revealed that the virus was spreading at an incredible pace, infection spreading through entire cities within days. Narratives conveying panic and urgency emerged as our inadequate level of preparedness to deal with the pandemic became increasingly more evident.

I fear that, due to the society’s heightened sense of fear, we are losing our sense of humanity — an underlying sense of love and respect for those around us. We are so focused and concerned about our well-being and survival. However, the stories of those who are most affected disappear in all the noise.

What about the low-income family who was living paycheque to paycheque before COVID-19?

As of April 3, over 260,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Over 6,800 deaths. General Electric, Cirque de Soleil, Air Canada, and Macy’s are announcing massive layoffs. Jobless claims are jumping to 10 million in two weeks. The St. Louis Fed wrote a report that 46% of Americans are in occupations that are at ‘high-risk’ of layoffs. A $2 trillion relief bill has passed in the House in response to the economic fallout from COVID-19. These numbers are too big to contextualize.

Still, the news narrative remains primarily focused on the economic impact. While reporting these figures, we forget that behind every staggering number is a myriad of people who are struggling to not only stay safe and healthy but survive through this pandemic.

To the privileged, the post-virus consequences might be a vacation sacrificed, a mortgage payment missed, the piggy bank for a new car emptied. But what about the low-income family who was living paycheque to paycheque before COVID-19? Or the single mom who now finds herself without childcare? Or the labour worker who cannot afford to self-isolate, thereby risking their health to work and make ends meet?

As a former analyst and manager of a small hedge fund, my inbox has exploded with messages asking about whether the market has reached the bottom, my picks for defensive stocks, stocks that will bounce after the stimulus package, blah, blah, blah. It is all noise that detracts from broader issues.

We cannot lose our sense of humanity during a time when it is needed the most.

It saddens me that there is excitement at the prospect of making money after the virus passes and the market recovers. Excitement during this time represents a complete ignorance and neglect for the real human impact that the virus has caused for millions within North America and millions more around the world. Right now is a time when we should be uniting and helping to lift others rather than strategizing a financial plan to maximize personal gain while neglecting the plights of those who are less fortunate.

We need to be conscious and mindful of the struggles that so many people are facing. We cannot forget our humanity during these uncertain times. Even a benign term like ‘social distancing’ has begun to embody a negative connotation in our current narrative. Social distancing doesn’t mean that we need to be fearful of other people; we attempt to reduce the probability of contact between people to lower possible transmissions of the virus. But we still need to continue to love others, just from a distance. So, should you stay away from crowded places? Yes. Should you treat the cashier as more of a vessel for an infection rather than a human being? No.

To anyone who is stress-free, sitting at home, watching T.V., scrolling through Instagram, reading books, this is a call for gratitude. Be grateful that COVID-19 does not significantly derail your life. Do not forget about the people who are struggling, from those close you to those halfway around the world. We cannot lose our sense of humanity during a time when it is needed the most.

We will survive, but some may not thrive when this is over. We need to show love and empathy to everyone and strive to be compassionate creatures, now more than ever before. We need to unite in sharing the burden of this virus. We need to continue to love and care for each other throughout this pandemic.

This post was previously published on Hello, Love and is republished here with permission from the author.


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Photo credit: ArtStation