Opinion: COVID-19 should cause us all to question our values

By Kallie Cox, News Editor

In a culture that normally screams “Me first!” COVID-19 should leave us all questioning our values and seeking to promote communitarianism. 

When a crisis occurs, what do we value? Is it our own comfort and personal needs? Or the lives of the most vulnerable among us? 

We are seeing a nationwide shortage of toilet paper, pictures of grocery stores with bare shelves and a gross and shocking display of what American culture really is. 

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In the land of plenty people can’t seem to handle having just enough and it is leaving our most vulnerable populations with too little.

Hoarding necessities is selfish and unnecessary, no one realistically needs 30 cases of toilet paper or 14 frozen pizzas for one week.

Your panic is helping to fuel an emergency that could have apocalyptic repercussions. We aren’t under martial law yet, but refusing to self quarantine and stealing resources from others is the first step to that hell.

Panic buying is a cycle, if one person does it then everyone feels as if they must follow suit or they’ll be left out. This cycle can be broken one person at a time.

Some don’t have the luxury of being able to panic buy and stockpile items. Maybe they are elderly, maybe they have transportation issues or maybe they are disabled. In any case they are more vulnerable during this time than the rest of us, and we need to take care of them.

COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions.

To healthy adults and young people, coronavirus will probably feel like the flu or a cold and then it will be over. For others, it’s a life or death battle they will probably lose. 

It is our responsibility to stay home, even if we don’t feel sick and to not hoard resources. 

Health-care workers and essential employees don’t have the luxury of staying home; in order to make it safer for them to do their jobs and to be around their families, we have a duty to. 

Because of stockpiling, health care workers are struggling to access personal protective equipment and they are being forced to reuse basic essentials such as masks. 

As a society we need to determine what we value most. Is it taking care of ourselves at any cost? Or ensuring that our community is protected for the greater good? This pandemic is a test and unfortunately we may not pass it, but we need to try.

It is also time for us to recognize that America has been valuing profits over people for far too long and the corporate agenda needs to be checked at the door. 

Citizens across the country are out of paid sick days, unable to afford child care for their kids who are home from school, or they are terrified of having their power shut off or being evicted from their homes because they can’t collect their normal paycheck. 

Some corporations and fast food chains are staying open and forcing their workers to show up and face the public or risk losing their jobs.

This should be considered unacceptable. We need to come together to value people and to show empathy and respect, to focus on each other rather than the bottom line.

Let’s dispel the bootstrap myth; no one is going to pull themselves out of this mess alone and we need to work together to pull through. It is time to rise to the occasion and to come together as Americans. Just like we did after 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and every disaster that has come before this.

Grocery shop for an elderly neighbor, offer to babysit for someone who can’t take off work and by all means, skype and check in with the loved ones in your life who may not be doing well in isolation. 

It can take up to 14 days for someone to exhibit symptoms of the virus, so quarantine yourself and don’t become a carrier. If you are young and healthy, don’t take a ventilator from someone who needs it, stay home.

When this pandemic is over do you want a pantry stocked with unnecessary items or the ability to look at yourself in the mirror?

News Editor Kallie Cox can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @KallieECox. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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