“My neighbor’s health is my health”

Asian Citizen's Center for Environment and Health

“My neighbor’s health is my health”

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My neighbor’s health is my health”

 

Jeong Su-yong

Catholic Father, A steering committee of Asian Citizen’s Center for Environment and Health

 

Social distancing is in full swing. Researchers from various fields say that the best way to prevent the spread of an epidemic is to reduce social contact and now everyone is actively participating. 

 

On the evening of March 27th (Central European Summer Time), Pope Francis prayed alone for the whole world at the empty Saint Peter's Square in the Vatican. Everyone who saw the picture of the completely silent square fully sensed the seriousness of COVID-19 again. 

 

On March 22nd, the pope emphasized in an interview with a Spanish media outlet that “each country must find a specific solution for their own situation, but finding their own and only way to survive can't be the solution”. 

 

The goal of social distancing is to prevent the epidemic's spread while being considerate to each other, but this doesn’t mean that one can overcome this situation on their own.

 

In capitalism, the competitive system was the driving force that helped increase productivity. This led our society to get accustomed to competition to achieve faster than and ahead of others. 

 

This is not just the case for businesses; schools, hospitals and religions also have embraced the competitive way. Efficiency and productivity based on this competition has let us achieve enormous growth, however, it created separation between us and others and caused us to regard our neighbors as competitors. Indeed, we are living in a world that is the most abundant and desolate at the same time.

 

This tiny, invisible virus gave us a chance to look back at the way that we have been living and its limitations. No matter how well armed with cutting-edge equipment, despite protecting our home with the highest wall, we, with no option but to live and interact with others, are afraid of the virus and infection. 

 

It’s impossible to reduce this fear even if you are able to buy virus-protection gear, stockpile masks and gain access to high-level health care system. In the end, perusing my own safety by separating from others will unveil its limitations. 

 

If my neighbor's health is threatened, it threatens my own health as well. It’s important to share what I have with neighbors out of pity, but more important is to understand that my neighbors and I share a deep connection.

 

The virus now raises new questions to the era of growth we have been living in. ‘Where should I apply preventive measures to make myself safe?’, 'How should I block the dangers surrounding me to ensure my health?’. 

 

These questions would not give you the right answers. Rather, now is the time to change attitudes by considering who my neighbors are and who among them suffer. Solidarity and participation, not rejection and blockade, can lead us to a new era.

 

If we want to be healthy, China and Japan should be healthy. If we don’t want to be sick, Daegu should not be sick. We should share what we have and show solidarity instead of doubting and drawing a line against neighbors, this will lead them to be our healthy neighbors. Embracing the people around me as my neighbors is the fastest way to guarantee my safety.

 

(Thankfully translated by CHO Yoojin and Robert W. Knoth)    

 

This article is published at a Korean Daily Kyung-Hyang on March 31, 2020 in Korean. 

Under the photo article reported by another Korean Daily Hangyore on March 30 is that Pope Francis prayed alone for the whole world at the empty Saint Peter's Square in the Vatican which is mentioned by this article beginning part. 

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