Prejudice and Hope during Covid-19

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Prejudice and Hope during Covid-19

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At the beginning of 2021, I spent one of the most memorable fun time in my life with my friends at the Coming of Age ceremony. Two days later, I had one more memorable days in my life, but in a negative mode: I got Covid-19, and it transferred to all my family members. During that time, I felt fear of being perceived as Covid-19-infected by others since a lot of prejudice led by Covid-19 was happening in the world and even in my neighborhood. In this essay, I would like to use my experience to analyze the human selfish and altruistic reactions to the Covid-19 pandemic.
When I got infected with Covid-19, I had a high fever of 103 degrees, had difficulty breathing, and could not eat properly for several days. My father was hospitalized for about a week because he kept coughing and had difficulty breathing. The whole family was infected with Covid-19and had to be treated at home and quarantined at home, so we could not go out to buy daily necessities and food. The food that was in the refrigerator was running out with each passing day. At that time, I was afraid to confess to anyone outside my family that I had Covid-19 even though I was cured. The reason for this was that I saw on the news that there was a hate movement against Japanese and Asians living in European countries and the United States around the spring of 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic began. Later on, as the Covid-19 damage grew, President Trump called the coronavirus the “Chinese virus,” and there were many Asians, including Chinese, who were labeled and discriminated against in the daily news. Even around my home, there were people who looked harshly at people labeled as "corona-infected," "pathogens," or "dangerous people," even if they had been infected with Covid-19 and had already recovered completely. I was afraid that if my neighbors and friends found out that I had Covid-19 and labeled me dishonorably.
I thought that the distrust and inter-personal level of hatred that people possess for people who have actually been infected with Covid-19 comes from the “state of nature” that Thomas Hobbes advocated in his writing. Hobbes explains that the state of nature is when humans “seek peace and follow it… by all means [humans] can to defend [themselves]”. The state of war, in which men fight what men perceive as a target (in this case, the threat of the Covid-19) in order to protect themselves, seems to have given rise to this discrimination. And that discriminatory view grew socially and led to the Asian Hate of the time. In addition to the fear held by individuals, I guess the manipulation of social impressions at the time also led to Asian hate. The world was under a medical crunch in all countries following the explosive spread of the Covid-19, and there was a shortage of hospital beds and respiratory equipment. This could be attributed to policies and measures in the medical field that could not respond well to the sudden pandemic or the failure to provide the public with the correct information. However, medical policies and government thinking of the time shifted the blame. They tried to deflect public anger and attention with a different vector, trying to place the responsibility for the entire pandemic on the "Chinese virus" and the Asians. Public opinion, not medical evidence, established the cause of the pandemic, which was similar to what happened in San Francisco, California, hundreds of years ago during a plague epidemic, according to Joan B. Trauner's article. Chinatown in San Francisco was created to isolate immigrants from China during the plague epidemic, and the health office regarded them as the cause of the disaster. The government and the health officer did not want to be responsible for the existence of a plague epidemic. Trauner, in his writing the Chinese as Medical Scapegoats in San Francisco, describes the perspective of the medical officer in San Francisco at the time: "the pronouncements of the board and the health officer were often characterized by political or social expedience, rather than by scientific insight”. The government and the health department utilized the presence of Chinese immigrants for social expediency. The fear, the anger born of fear, and the desire to protect oneself have not changed from the time Hobbes wrote The Leviathan, through Trauner, to the present day in the 21st century. Especially in extraordinary situations like a pandemic, it will lead to new discrimination and more people being treated unfairly.
But I have found one hope during this pandemic. During the time my family was homebound, when we had nowhere to go shopping and were finally running out of food, friends of my parents cooked and brought us meals for a few days, bought fruits and household items and delivered them to us. There were even heartful letters written by them. They did not avoid us as "dangerous people" but treated us with compassion. When humanity makes a positive turnaround from looking for the cause of this situation and shifting blame, to working together to overcome the situation that is happening now, we could overcome our fears, become altruistic, and strive to protect humanity as a whole.

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