The first pandemic – coronavirus
On January the 30th, 2020 the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern. Since then we have not only seen the steady influx of new diagnoses globally but also the increase in mortality.
We wait with bated breath as the disease encroaches closer and closer to our homes. Wondering, is there more that we should be doing to protect ourselves and our loved ones from this deadly disease.
The second pandemic – xenophobia
It has been fascinating to observe the social response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Amongst the widespread international fear of deadly disease, and the intense human desire to hold someone to blame, we have lost our minds. Confronted by this fear, deep-rooted racism and evil of the human heart has been put on full display.
Prompting the question - is xenophobia contagious?
Wherever this pandemic goes, xenophobia closely follows suit. Since the news of a novel coronavirus was released from the Chinese city of Wuhan in early January, we have borne witness to the accompanying pandemic of xenophobia.
This outbreak of social disease has spread faster than the accompanying COVID-19. Before COVID-19 had reached our shores, videos of bat-soup had gone viral in international media – prompting curt giggles from school children through to professionals.
The stories of both national and international racial abuse targeted at the Chinese and wider Asian communities are horrific. However, many incidences of xenophobia are under-reported or brushed over lightly in the media – with the media at times deeming the incidences as humorous.
In Australia, on the 26th of January 2020, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph’s headline read “China kids stay home.” Additionally, at a Woolworths supermarket, a person reported an incident whereby a member of the community of Asian descent was refused entry into the supermarket.
In New Zealand, we have seen an online petition signed by more than 18,000 people to prevent people from China entering the country.
Additionally, we have seen an influx in vitriolic slurs targeted towards Asian communities and people of Asian descent. With a reported incidence including that of an Auckland, doctor told to “Go home to China” after she sneezed on a bus.
It appears that our white-washed society would prefer to spend more time cultivating racist and prejudice belief systems than confronting these beliefs and curing social disease.
The third pandemic – madness
Here in New Zealand, there have been a few interesting responses to COVID-19 to make note of. Namely, our obsessive toilet paper hoarding.
Supermarket shelves around the country have been stripped toilet paper bare. Amongst the social hysteria, kiwis have been bulk buying the item that they fear most of running short on – toilet paper.
However, this is madness.
The humorous fact is, that although many kiwis may be preparing for the incoming toilet paper apocalypse, we produce toilet paper right here in New Zealand. Hence, we can rest assured that our days are to be filled with an ample supply of this necessary item.
However, simply presenting society with the facts is not simply enough. Statements have been released from New Zealand’s major toilet paper production companies urging kiwis to stop the shop. Yet, the preparation for the COVID-19 toilet paper apocalypse continues.
Hence, prompting the question - is this madness contagious?
A Christian response to pandemic
COVID-19. Xenophobia. Madness.
Three pandemics. One source. Sin.
As Christians, we hold to the understanding that we live in a disease-ridden, sinful and crazy world. The intense desires of the human heart are ultimately selfish – we care about ourselves and our own.
However, through the death of Christ on the cross we can receive salvation and our minds are transformed. Thus, the sin which our human nature once loved we now despise.
Although we may not actively be participants in the xenophobia and madness surrounding COVID-19, we can become default subscribers.
When we witness an act of racism yet do nothing. When we giggle at videos of bat-soup. When we adamantly wash our hands of confronting social madness, we become contributors to the pandemic.
Although COVID-19 is contagious, xenophobia and madness are not. It is time for us to stop pretending like they are. Time to get our hands dirty and confront this social disease.
Kiwi-born with British roots, Jessica Gardiner drinks tea religiously while her dinner table discussions reverberate between the sovereignty of God, global politics, and the public health system. Having experienced churches from conservative to everything but, Jessica writes out a desire for Christian orthodoxy and biblical literacy in her generation. Jessica is married to fellow young writer Blake Gardiner.