The outbreak of COVID-19 is not an excuse for racism and hate crimes. However, not only am I seeing the world suffering, I’m also hearing and seeing the racism and xenophobia that comes with it.
As a Taiwanese/Chinese/Asian person during this pandemic, I know that my Asianness does not make me more susceptible to catching or spreading the virus. However, society doesn’t seem to agree. In a time like this, if you even look remotely Asian, you can become a target.
Both my roommate and I are in Asian communities that have shared stories of racism and discrimination. Before the shelter-in-place order happened in Atlanta, Georgia, we were already staying at home and avoiding being out as much as possible. Worrying calls and messages from family and friends around the world have filled my phone.
“But you’re Chinese”
“Are you going to be okay?”
Am I going to be okay? Will the Asian American community be okay?
The Asian community has to be looking over their shoulder, be afraid of stepping out of the house, and worries about not only their health but also their physical safety.
That powerlessness, despair, frustration, anxiety and fear can make us feel so small. It can make us feel like hiding ourselves.
Collectively, our mental health suffers. Will the attacks on the Asian community during this pandemic trigger trauma, including generational trauma and historical trauma, from previous immigration experiences? How many will end up experiencing PTSD?
Chinese restaurants have been smashed.
“Corona! You people brought this virus here. Go back to your country!”
Chinese people have been beaten up on the streets.
Wearing a mask or not, every time a Chinese person sneezes or clears his/her throat, people give terrified or disgusted stares.
This is a bigger war we are fighting, for we are not only fighting Coronavirus, but we are also fighting ignorance and racism. Coronavirus will eventually go away, but how about the virus of racism?
There is so much pain and so much injustice in addition to the suffering in the current world. This Easter has felt so different compared to previous years.
Can our pain even be a form of prayer?
The world is changing because of this. There are things that might change forever and can never be the same again. What will happen in the future is hard to predict. However, as my counseling theoretical orientation leaning towards existentialism, I believe it all comes to meaning making in the end.
This was an opportunity for all the people in the world to be in this together. The World Health Organization has announced the spread of COVID-19 to be a pandemic. The Coronavirus struck Asia as the Western world has also started to take the hit. No one is immune and no one is infallible. Scientifically, we are in this together.
But too many followed Trump’s racist lead and insisted on calling it the “Chinese Virus”, which unfortunately put a target on Asians’ back. Black and Latinx communities are being hit disproportionately hard by the virus.
Many developing countries are sorely under equipped. COVID-19 revealed to us a system that has failed so many. COVID-19 was an opportunity to come together and we are still missing it.
My fear is that this disaster is tearing the world apart, driving people away from one another, and the gap and the misunderstanding will go wider and deeper. (And I’m not talking about literally, because social distancing is needed and the right thing to do-listen to Dr. Emily Landon from University of Chicago Medicine here.)
I am scared about where we will end up after this is over. I am terrified by the thought of what people will become and where this is bringing us to. I don’t want our world to be filled with division and hatred, selfishness and greed, and isolation and emotional distance.
There is a lot I’m feeling that I can’t describe. According to this article in Harvard Business Review, the discomfort we are going through is grief, which can be a powerful emotion that brings us both pain and hope.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)”
For a time like this, with so much fear and uncertainty, faith becomes even more crucial. We need faith in the midst of all of this. Every day, we are learning to trust and battling our fear with our faith.
We need to believe that this will all be over one day. We trust in the medical professionals who are fighting this with us. We want to have confidence in our government that there will be good leadership to take us through this difficulty.
As depressing as it is seeing the world changing and going through a crisis like this, there is hope. My hope is that through this crisis, we can still come together and support one another.
I hear about people singing for one another on the balcony in Italy. I see young people volunteer to delivery groceries to older adults. I know people volunteering for crisis work.
I see countries in Asia, having battled through themselves (and still battling through), now sharing their experiences and support as Western countries is currently under attack. It is a time we practice compassion and learn to love each other more.
I hope countries can set aside their differences and work together to develop necessary medical procedures to help us get through this. I hope families are brought closer because of this.
I hope we build compassion during this period and show love to others in a difficult time like this.
“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.” (-Erich Fromm)
It has to be the only way. Only love can cast out fear (1 John 4:18).
This is a terrible time, a crisis, a pandemic, nothing good about this. Yet we can be the ones to make it good. We can be the ones to make meaning out of this event.
Whether this gives you the opportunity to spend more time at home with your family, forces you to learn stillness and love, challenges your faith, makes you learn about grief and how you personally grieve, offers you the opportunity to be helped or help others, allows you to see what your priorities in life should be, etc, in the end of the day, you have to write your narrative of what this event means in your life.
I hope we all will be able to take a little something with us and leave a little something good behind as we fight through this pandemic together!
Now comes a time we are asked to stay in, to stop going out to places, to stop running in and out, and all of sudden we don’t know what to do. We don’t know how to be still and just sit in the moment.
I am guilty of this as well.
It is a lesson I am learning: to be still even though the rest of the world is in chaos. On top of that, we are all experiencing the fear of uncertainty this pandemic brings, not knowing what will happen to us and our loved ones personally, to society, to the world, etc.
The power of stillness can be helpful for focusing on the here-and-now, which may be even more needed at this time. With faith, hope and love, we will get through this, together, in solidarity.