When does the globe become one global?, when one city catches a cold and everyone holds their breath trying not to sneeze?
So it is with the Corona virus that erupted from the China City of Wuhan, a place some of us not in the global business had never heard of and even if we had heard the name, we were not even remotely interested in knowing who lives there and what they eat.
After becoming the birthplace of the virus, it is probably the most watched and talked about city (or city state) in the “Global Village ”
I was browsing the net when I came across a CNN news piece,2-02-2020, on Wuhan by Nectar Gan.
What chilled me was how the people of Wuhan are dabbed “ the unwanted faces of China’s Corona virus outbreak” It would appear that there are repercussions for belonging to that city. I have called it a city state as it is now on its own; according to the news, the people from Wuhan are shunned, resented and discriminated upon by fellow Chinese. Unfortunately but for good reason, the Chinese are generally not welcome anymore in other regions.
Being a mediator, you can sense a problem and deeper problems from miles away. What I know is that treating people badly for something that they are victims of can create bitterness, hostility and a desire to hit back. It can also create so much hopelessness that they no longer care whether they die or live, they may feel ashamed and wish to hide or lie about the situation. It is a heavy burden to carry when everywhere else people are at risk, they point fingers blaming it on the Wuhan Chinese and their eating habits. The blame game will compound the situation; whereas empathy may invoke positive response to the situation.
It is also a chilling revelation that authorities in Wuhan tried to clamp down information about the outbreak, leading to the inference that had they not done that, the crisis would not be as bad. This goes to show, that as the world reacts to this situation, be minded that there are different categories of people with different levels of responsibility. They are those whose lives are at the mercy of circumstances and can only depend on the good will of authorities and influential entities to safeguard their interest or to expose them to risk. Then there are those whose principal concerns are superpowerism and they can afford to sacrifice the welfare of the masses to achieve sinister objectives. In the case of Wuhan, internet sources indicate that the Doctors who sounded the alarm in December were allegedly arrested on account of spreading rumors. Let me add that one is now rumored dead even before I can finish writing this post.
One wishes that the issue was just what kind of virus this is and how it spreads. There are more serious underlying issues that need to be addressed.
What are the interests of the entire world right now?:
Interests are normally categorized as long term and short term, my guess on the interests in this situation would be as follows:(note that all the listed interests are from my imagination and no official or any other source)
The short term global interests:
- To stop or significantly prevent the spread of the virus.
- To get the necessary facts that can help the scientific community in containing the situation.
- To develop a vaccine or any sort of cure as soon as possible.
- To have proactive response from all people everywhere so as to achieve the above.
The Short term China (Wuhan)
All the above(identifiable common interests) and in addition:-
- To get a humane reaction from the world community.
- To have the world community focus on what needs to be done urgently to alleviate the suffering of the people.
- The wish that the ego may suppress is to have the rest of the world act like we are one People. That for once, the Christian philosophy that a good part of the world is wont to postulate could be seen to be guiding the reaction to this crisis.
- That compassion especially in a situation like this that even Jesus personally alluded to be evident: Mathew 25:36 (American Bible Version):
“naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”
The Long term:
To get to the bottom of the recurrence of the related viruses
To secure the cooperation of the Chinese Government and people in eradicating the practices that cause this virus attacks to recur.
Look at the possible contribution or connivance of the rest of the world.
Long term for China (Wuhan)
The whole nightmare to be gone and forgotten.
In mediation terminology, the situation probably calls for empathy and the Chinese people need to know that the world stands with them, is praying for their recovery and working hard to find a solution. Lock down is necessary and hard enough but knowing you are now stigmatized is another form of virus attack which can outlive this Corona virus.
The repercussions of the antagonism can be deadly, it happened with HIV early cases when people thought that no cure was possible, some maliciously started spreading it; things changed when the society’s attitude changed. The hardheartedness of some was softened when donors committed significant funding. That artificial heart softener is also a problem.
The same way I would feel empathy for a party, by looking at him or her as a fellow human being is the same way to look at China which is very much part of the so called Global Village.
The above does not mean that the world ignores the huge responsibility China has to bear for this apocalyptic mess which has happened severally putting lives of its business partners and members of the human family in jeopardy.
For China to expect a positive reaction from the rest of the world, it has to concede that it has an obligation while carrying on its legitimate business including enjoying its special cuisine, to consider how its actions may affect the rest of the global family. Evidence abounds that certain practices have caused epidemics in the past; therefore, it was very easy for China to predict this would happen again as the very practices that caused previous similar epidemics are still very much alive squeaking and crawling.
Once this monster called globalization emerged as an offspring of advanced technologies in both information, communication technology (ICT), Transportation and all modes of connectivity, movement of people to conduct joint economic ventures increased dramatically. In fact the Chinese presence in parts of Africa makes them a new tribe. It is therefore a no brainer that China may be the leading beneficiary from the global economy. Benefits come with huge responsibilities, top of which is to ensure the welfare of those you voluntarily patterned with and avoid actions that are known to cause harm.The best way for a nation to keep partners safe is always to ensure its own people are healthy, secure, happy and loving.
There must be international laws and standards to be observed in dealing with people across borders, oceans, airs paces and cultures. Those laws respect or should respect a common culture, one which recognizes that you cannot benefit from the people you harm whether directly or indirectly by engaging in thoughtless, reckless acts. You cannot violate nature without nature returning it to you in kind.
There is no special concept to apply, but laws of conscience and morality which have often found their way into the law. The renowned case of Donoghue V Stephenson  A.C 562 had this to say :
“ You must not injure your neighbour; and the lawyer’s question, Who is my neighbour? receives a restricted reply. You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. Who, then, in law, is my neighbour? The answer seems to be – persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question.”
Whereas in that case it was consumer protection issue for a manufacturer , I posit the neighborhood principle applies to situations where we consume each other’s consequences of environmental abuse that cause harm and loss to those we should have in contemplation in whatever we do.
If you are looking at this from a mediator lens, the environmental problem becomes a common problem, as lack of respect for nature is worldwide. Locusts ravaging the African continent right now did not necessarily come because of what the affected people did; it is a climate change issue and innocents have got to pay the price.
So there would be need to list problems facing the world because some people are obsessed with economic growth at the expense of everything else. The desecration of the earth and all the natural beings within is affecting the safety of innocent people and the authorities that are meant to intervene are busy working out power equations.
We are left with the cries of the victims to raise the conscience of the good people the world over. Therefore, Chinese should not be judged as if to be Chinese is equivalent to a plague carrier. There must be some very good people who need the empowerment of the global community to bring about the change that must happen during and after this Corona virus crisis. The change would not be for China only but the whole world. When it becomes all of us against the problem and the underlying issues are all brought out then there can be hope for the Chinese to take care of their part of the problem.
On change, there is a quote from “People Of the Lie-the hope for healing human evil” which is apt:
“ Our capacity to choose changes constantly with our practice of life. The longer we continue to make the wrong decision the more our hearts harden; the more often we make the right decision, the more our hearts soften-or better perhaps, comes alive…Each step in life which increases my self-confidence, my integrity, my courage, my conviction also increases my capacity to choose the desirable alternative, until eventually it becomes more difficult for me to choose the undesirable action. On the other hand, each act of surrender and cowardice weakens me, opens the path for more acts of surrender and cowardice, and eventually freedom is lost. Between the extreme when I can no longer do a wrong act and the extreme when I have lost my freedom to right action, there are innumerable degrees of freedom of choice. In the practice of life the degree of freedom to choose is different at any given moment. If the degree of freedom to choose the good is great, it needs less effort to choose the good. If it is small, it takes a great effort, help from others, and favourable circumstances… most people fail in the art of living not because they are inherently bad or so without will that they cannot lead a better life; they fail because they do not wake up and see when they stand at a fork in the road and have to decide. They are not aware when life asks them a question, and when they still alternative answers. Then with each step along the wrong road, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to admit that they are on the wrong road, often only because they have to admit that they must go back to the first wrong turn and must accept the fact that they have wasted energy and time.” By M.Scott Peck.
The mediator’s approach is always to focus on the problem but try to understand the people and give due regard to all parties involved. In this case almost all people are interested parties as evidenced by social media comments and official media briefs.
One of the ways to avoid negative criticism is to try and find more information about the affected . I confess that the Information regarding the ordinary people of Wuhan is quite endearing.
The initial impactful message comes from the resilience under the situation. It is unlikely that the great feat of constructing two huge hospitals without help from outsiders and completing one in the shortest time possible, ten days, can be replicated anywhere else. So a positive for the Wuhan people – they are hardworking.
The second positive is the discipline. Telling people to stay confined would cause riots in some places, it is remarkable that in Wuhan people are off the streets.
There is a history of courage and love of freedom as Wuhan led a revolution around 1911 to 12 which is recorded as worker’s industrial action.
There was also the Nationalist / communist struggle in the history of the people.
Wuhan is blessed with iron ore, coal and varied agricultural produce.
It has a remarkable history of a civilization built along the rivers Yangtze and Han. It has always been a center of commerce and like all significant places in history, it attracted the interest of the powers then France, Great Britain, Russia and Japan.
It is the political, economic and cultural center of China.
It is a center of research and innovation especially in technology.
It is a leading producer of Steel and heavy machinery, in addition to electronics and many others.
It is referred to as a “ City of Cherry Blossoms”
It is a hub of water and rail transport and boasts amazing constructions like a bridge under the river and other wonders equivalent to wonders of the world.
While reading various articles full of positive things about Wuhan from various sources, including online Britannica, I had almost forgotten about the Corona Virus; that happens when one focuses on the positives In a situation, then the new insights help in approaching the problem with humility and humanity.
From all that information, one wonders why almost in all places blessed with nature’s bounty both minerals, food stuffs, water bodies and above all hard working people, evil finds a place at the high table and the people are relegated to the status of hopelessness that lead to dangerous habits.
In Thorn Hartman’s book “The last hours of ancient Sunlight”, he captures Modern slavery as follows:
“.. few people report that they feel even remotely “free” in our modern society: we are modern-day slaves, held captive by ‘slave-holders’ of our culture. The slave holders use the chains of the mortgage owed to the bank, the loan on the car, the unpaid credit card bills ad requirement to pay property tax if you own a home, and many other subtle and not so subtle forms of economic and cultural pressure to extract the majority of your life’s time and use it to their ends.”
He goes on to talk about addictions to relieve pain and confusion. He also compared today with a time when it was normal for people to share food and water and to give shelter to those in need.
What is described by the writer cannot be possible today, because exploiting the natural resources including the people to serve the interests of megalomaniacs has put priorities upside down. Remarkable from what I have personally observed in today’s commercial practices in most African countries are the following:
What we were naturally blessed with for our health and general well being like fruits and vegetables that grew naturally and in plenty are now focused on export living the children and elderly malnourished weak, and sickly. Healthy foods that remain for the local market are extremely expensive and not affordable for the majority of people in the cities. Even people’s staple foods have become scarce after commercialization.
Some fruits like avocados are exported and imported back as cosmetics to give the skin the vitamins the entire body could have had naturally by eating the fruit fresh.
There are tax free zones for manufacturing where workers voices against conditions are muted. It is possible the land could have been more useful if used for farming.
To create artificial bounty, fertilizers and all manner of agrichemicals are applied even in the face of scientific studies that indicate they cause cancer. We have foods that if grown naturally used to stay for long but now they rot over night and develop spots that ooze unsightly liquid giving us signals that what we are consuming is like a deadly virus, but there is no choice. The current fear is to afford the rotten produce.
There is also a disheartening situation of engineering competition between local producers and unnecessary imports of food.
It is disheartening to be told by the fishmongers that fresh fish is from China, given that the Corona virus is suspected to have originated from a sea food market. Do governments inspect and put standards before allowing some supplies to be imported? The reason I have highlighted the plight of Africans is because I have seen in the media some concerns over countries with poor health systems who will not survive the epidemic, if it comes to that.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is very visible updating and advising, at least its chief has commended China’s reaction. The question is, given the interactions in the global economy, is there an effort to prevent pandemics before they occur? Even Governments everywhere, invest so much in people falling sick instead of keeping people safe and enforcing cleanliness everywhere at all times. Is it not possible that resources spent on collecting taxes from small traders would save a lot on the cost of medical care if spent on enforcing cleanliness and healthy leaving? Should washing hands, sneezing into a handkerchief and the like wait for an epidemic to remind people?
The poor people of China may have a story to tell on whether eating what is claimed to have caused the epidemic resulted from historically harsh unavoidable circumstances at some point? They to reflect on man’s interconnection with the rest of creation and come up with the problems and solutions that address expansive moral issues.
May all the infected get well soon, and may the eyes of the world open up to the realities of how man is his own worst enemy.
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