Spread Compassion, Not Fear
As the world battles the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, everyone should show more compassion and kindness to help ease the devastating effects of the crisis.
A lot has transpired since the turn of the decade – the world is working hard to contain a pandemic without a vaccine in place yet, the global economy is on the brink of a recession and unemployment is steadily on the rise, claiming tens of millions of jobs globally. These are indeed unnerving times.
#COVID19 has and is likely to affect people from many countries. Do not attach it to any ethnicity or nationality.— UNESCO (@UNESCO) March 15, 2020
Be empathetic to all those who are affected, in and from any country – they deserve our support, compassion and kindness.#Coronavirus #COVIDー19 pic.twitter.com/f6nemFJwDq
Though hope is in short supply these days, compassion should never be. Now more than ever, everyone should practice compassion, big or small, especially as the coronavirus (COVID-19) shows little signs of abating.
The crisis is a painful realisation and a reminder for governments around the world to rebuild countries in a more compassionate and humane manner.
Be compassionate, always
Some corners of society have taken advantage of this unsettling environment to go on the offence, spreading fake news, prejudice and racism on social media. The sheer volume of vitriol and acrimony expressed online is astounding to say the least. From reprimanding overseas students or workers for returning home, to condemning varsity students who share legitimate concerns of being stuck in their dorms, to racially attacking Chinese citizens for supposed ignorance on hygiene, and many more.
⚠️⚠️FAKE NEWS ALERT⚠️⚠️— UNICEF Malaysia (@myUNICEF) March 5, 2020
UNICEF is NOT issuing any advice/tips about #Coronavirus prevention through WhatsApp in #Malaysia!
For information about how to prevent #COVID19, please visit our website: https://t.co/wnZxH6BOM0
Others have risen above the negativity by stepping up relief efforts for the most vulnerable. Our brave Malaysians on the frontlines are working tirelessly round the clock to ensure the communities are safe. Companies, organisations and individuals have channelled millions to the COVID-19 fund, a special government fund which will give financial aid to those directly affected by the pandemic.
In solidarity and support of our own people who are adversely affected by the crisis and the Movement Control Order (MCO), Sunway Group staff, in collaboration with Jeffrey Cheah Foundation have set up the #SunwayForGoodFund to aid our healthcare colleagues and those in essential and critical services, as well as the most vulnerable communities, the B40 in the vicinity of Sunway townships nationwide.
To fight the pandemic, we must be bigger than our fears and live with love and compassion.
Look beyond the self
During these times of stress and uncertainty, one way to stay optimistic and positive is to practice more compassion and gratitude, according to Australian academic, psychologist and author Lea Waters.
Have more compassion and always keep in mind that someone out there has it worse than your current situation. You may be on the verge of getting a pay cut, but a breadwinner just lost a secure 9-5 job. You may grumble at the long queues at the supermarket, but somebody does not even have enough income to buy basic necessities. You may complain of the long periods of confinement, not knowing that many struggle mentally and emotionally to live in isolation for extended periods of time.
Simply put, everyone is affected by the crisis in their own different ways, and a little perspective and compassion would only be good and healthy in the long run.
Setting an Example
“Cometh the hour, cometh the man” a quote so famously paired with Winston Churchill and his leadership during World War II. It simply means when faced with great need, a true leader will rise to the occasion.
That “hour” has returned in the form of the COVID-19 outbreak. Leaders not only have to choose the right path, they are also placed with the monumental burden of reassuring and guiding the public to follow government decisions with compassion, though the consequences may come with unpleasant trade-offs that may be met with hostility.
Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin shares a compassionate and heartwarming update on the COVID-19 to fellow Malaysians.
How leaders respond to disasters plays a key role in gaining public trust and co-operation. Be it a politician, a CEO, a manager or even just the head of a household, all leaders must step up to the challenge of revealing difficult truths and making hard choices with compassion.
“There must be a fine balance between fear and compassion, and we must lean heavily towards the latter. Celebrate compassion, not submit to fear,” said Sunway Group Executive Director of Chairman’s Office Ong Pang Yen, on the importance of showing compassion during a pandemic. “We are thankful for all 5000 Sunway employees who are still working despite the potential risks.” Sunway Clio Hotel, Sunway Pyramid Hotel and Sunway Velocity Hotel are now being utilised as quarantine centres for Malaysians who have recently returned from overseas – with Sunway Putra Hotel and Sunway Hotel Georgetown being gazetted as well.
Life is valuable
During this time, it has dawned on me the preciousness and fragility of life. It took a disaster for us to realise the importance of caring for the most vulnerable, appreciating loved ones, opening our hearts to be more compassionate to those who are profoundly different from us.
We have reached a crossroads where we must decide to take the high road while being guided by our moral compass and ethics. This may manifest in many ways: from as simple as adhering to social distancing, to not lying about overseas travels, hoarding supplies when panic buying, as all these actions may determine life or death.
Now is not about preserving or re-establishing the status quo, it is about protecting human life. Before the pandemic, life for many was already mired in obscene inequality, extreme exclusion and upheaval, but now in these challenging times, I hope humans would be more mindful of others, practice compassion and embody true altruism for the sake of humanity.
This article first appeared in Berita Sunway Issue 69