The spread of coronavirus, and in particular it’s widespread and ongoing media coverage, has been causing panic around Australia.
We are seeing store shelves emptied. People fighting for packs of toilet paper.
And ultimately, we are witnessing an egocentric atmosphere fuelled by fear.
This is such a stark difference from the compassion and generosity we saw amidst the devastating bushfires. So what can we do about it?
Understanding the panic
The mere fact that coronavirus has been labelled as a pandemic* is creating fear across the world, but as with all things new and unfamiliar, the fear of the unknown plays it’s part in the panic we are seeing in our local communities.
The media constantly provides updates on the number of those infected or killed by coronavirus. We keep hearing of cities and countries that have gone into lockdown. And even some local schools have closed their doors to staff and students. But in contrast with what appears to be such a dangerous disease, we are told that the best thing we can do is to wash our hands thoroughly and cough into our elbows.
Such a simple (albeit effective) method of protecting oneself from a life-threatening disease seems disproportionate, thus creating more fear and a need to take matters into our own hands.
This is where the panic buying comes in.
It’s natural for us as humans to think of the worst, and to prepare for the worst, but in a time of fear and uncertainty it is important that we think of our neighbours, and those less fortunate than ourselves.
Spreading kindness amidst fear
Recently a good news coronavirus-related story aired across the media, and it was a heartfelt one at that.
Two young girls in Queensland, aged 4 and 6, took it upon themselves to buy toilet paper to share with those in need in their community. And they used their own pocket money to do so.
We can learn so much of the selflessness of these girls, first by thinking of how our actions can impact others – for better or worse.
With store shelves left bare as a result of the panic buying, people on low incomes or those living from week to week will be suffering the consequences. Those unable to bulk buy are being left in the lurch, with many basic food staples and items unavailable in stores.
Unfortunately panic buying is a vicious cycle, because others who see the empty shelves then start their own panic buying, but you can support your community by avoiding this behaviour.
If you need to stock up on resources in your home, do so slowly rather than bulk buying, and try to get only what you really need. If you have already done some bulk buying, consider checking in on your extended family, friends and neighbours to make sure they have enough food and sanitary items, and share with them.
Here are some other great ideas on spreading kindness amidst the fear of the coronavirus:
- Organise a food swap in your local community/school/group or create a share table where people donate and take items as needed.
- Make up packs of essential items (sanitary products, non-perishable foods, etc) and distribute to vulnerable people in your community, such as the homeless, or aged care facilities.
- Ask a stranger if they need any supplies, like rare toilet paper. You might ask someone in the parking lot of a supermarket. Or even someone just walking down the street. Even if they say they ‘no thank you’, maybe then they will go on to return the favour for someone else in need.
Liz Gellel, Communications Coordinator
*Pandemic: a disease that has spread across countries. The word ‘pandemic’ does not describe the severity of a disease.