The COVID-19 and Social Sciences: Seeing from the Global South illustrates the stories, and actions of people who have chosen hope and action over despair and inaction during the COVID-19 pandemic from an Asian perspective. This is so important as the decolonisation of health and helping professions build momentum so that the world can continue to learn diverse ways of dealing with this global pandemic permeating every corner of the world. This can undoubtedly help engage in what the United Nations has referred to as a “creative dialogue” with nations, non-governmental organisations, as well as Indigenous peoples and marginalised groups most adversely affected by the coronavirus, a pandemic that has descended upon the world almost literally like a plague, to move toward a socially just world, constructed from the pillars of human rights.
The human condition moves toward altruism in times of emergency, if not disaster. The 9/11 debacle in the United States is a testimony to that, as firefighters, health professionals, and ordinary people, went to extremes, putting their lives at risk to help those most unfortunate victims of terrorism. The same case is with Covid-19. But, here, setting aside the issue of state-sponsored terrorism for the moment, the saboteur is a virus, invisible at least to the naked eye, arguably emanating from remote environments, if not exotic animals, which we have no choice but to reckon with. Failure to do so will result in death, violating a most fundamental human right, the right to life, as espoused in Article 3 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document increasingly referred to as customary international law all nations must abide. Indeed, to honour all aid and health workers who continue to provide life-saving support and protection to people most in need, the world has once again celebrated World Humanitarian Day, on August 19. It was first celebrated in honour of Sergio Viera de Mello, a former U.N. High Commissioner of Human Rights, who died in the line of duty in 2002. That day is a universal “thank you” for helpers’ tireless efforts. |
In 2020, with the persistence of the onslaught of the coronavirus, it was time to fully realise that humans are not selfish “by nature,” that we will always have wars, destruction and pestilence, each person individually trying to maximise profit in mega enterprises at the expense of the common good. These individuals are regulated only by an “invisible hand,” as the economist Adam Smith had argued. It is a matter of human choice to hope, help and have even a pathological belief in the impossible or to despair, to look the other way, and cave into circumstance and horror.