When we are fearful, our first instinct might be to cast blame on others or to indulge in prejudice toward groups we see as responsible. News reports already show that some people of Asian descent around the world are finding themselves shunned or the victims of racist profiling, simply because COVID-19 appears to have originated in China.
Though we might rationally know that no individual or country can be blamed for a viral outbreak, our minds still seek simple explanations.
Research suggests that when we recognise our common humanity and show compassion, we are more likely to pull together and to solve issues that may be complex in nature.
You can start by giving yourself some compassion, which can help you become more willing to admit mistakes and take steps to correct them. This is important, as human error can be costly when there is a viral outbreak, and we need to work together to learn from our mistakes.
Of course, all of these guidelines don’t supplant the importance of practicing good hygiene. We need to continue to frequently wash our hands and avoid touching our faces so we can lessen the chance of infecting ourselves and others.
But we also should remember our social hygiene—looking for the heroes, staying calm ourselves, being grateful, and remembering our common humanity.
In this way, we can help to make the world safer for all of us.
Courtesy Greater Good Magazine, U.C Berkeley. Edited by Seated Massage.