Em“Pathetic” Feelings During COVID-19

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Brashier administration sends a message of hope to students during quarantine(Photo courtesy of Instagram, photo credits to @bmcbengals).

Ever since the coronavirus began to plague the US, a string of issues has presented itself, from an economic recession to unemployment increasing drastically. As the news bombards viewers with negativity, it can be argued that this poor attitude is being reflected across the nation. 

“I think empathy can be affected in two different ways right now. I think some people are more empathic while others can be less, and I think that’s due to personal situations,” said junior Taylor Knox. 

During this pandemic, social distancing has become a necessity to prevent and slow the spread of the virus. The CDC states the importance of social distancing, saying, “COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) for a prolonged period.” So, less contact with other people means no gathering, no school, and closing of non-essential businesses. However, these rules aren’t being followed all the way through by lots of people.

“I’m sure there’s many reasons why people choose to ignore social distancing, but I think people don’t want to accept what is going on and are trying to keep their form of normalcy. We’re being asked to temporarily give up our way of life and a lot of freedoms and that’s not easy. As someone playing by the rules, it’s disappointing to see other people not doing their part,“ said junior Laney McKinney.

Honestly, disappointing is a good word for it, especially for South Carolina. Unacast graded the social distancing practices for each state and South Carolina received a ‘D’. With the 17 counties earning ‘D’ and 16 counties given an ‘F’. Seeing the state doing so poorly, the situation questions does this point to a lack of empathy?

“I’ve seen an attitude among younger people especially that because they aren’t a part of the higher risk category, they feel ‘invincible’ in a way. The feeling of ‘I’m young and healthy; I’ll be fine’ makes room for people to just not care. It’s selfish, really, because those can also be people who are asymptomatic and worsen the spread,” said McKinney. 

It goes without saying that coronavirus has increased hardships. During times like this, communities should support one another. For different people, this holds a different definition. Some who are hoarding toilet paper can give to others. Or, a family that is still receiving a steady income for a career can donate to someone laid off. Empathy can also be more than giving objects. An act of kindness can substitute material items. A student can help another student with schoolwork or they can stream tv shows together. 

“I think we can learn to slow down and really appreciate what we have. We often take for granted being able to see friends and family whenever we want and come and go as we please. We lose sight of this blessing and freedom because we assume it’ll always be there. I hope people will come out of this a little more patient, a little more thankful, and a little more in love with life, “ said McKinney.

Local churches like Bethlehem Baptist Church and Relentless Church are hosting grocery giveaways for those in need, working to feed 150 to 200 people. Another church in Simpsonville named New Covenant Christian Fellowship Church is sewing cloth masks then donating them to Miracle Hill, Piedmont Women’s Center, and others. Greenville County Schools is also supplying lunches and breakfast to anyone 18 years old and younger or with special needs up to 21 years old. Stores like Aldi, Food Lion, Target, and Walmart have allocated time for elderly, first-responders, and those at risk to shop and avoid crowds. 

“Everyone is currently being affected but I think it’s so easy to get wrapped up in your own situation and [I] worry that some people might be apathetic towards others,” said Knox.

Understandably so, social distancing and quarantine has affected all US citizens. Here in South Carolina, Governor McMaster ordered the closing of all non-essential business. With so many businesses closed, more than 180,000 South Carolinians are unemployed. Additionally, Governor McMaster announced the closing of all schools throughout the month of April. The severity of the situation paired with the isolation of social distancing can take a toll on us all. As a result, the importance of empathy, particularly during a pandemic is highly important.

“I think by reaching out to people we do and don’t know [we show empathy]. By doing little things that still respect boundaries of social distancing [we] can still make an impact on someone’s life,” said Knox. 

With that in mind, make sure to check on your loved ones. Considering that everyone’s home dynamic is different, staying at home can be harder for others. During times like this, being empathetic can cause a bigger impact than you can expect. As a nation, some of our efforts have been pathetic. Our failure to follow instruction and take proper precautions only hurts us in this situation. The defiance of guidelines showcases a lack of empathy for others. The answer to preventing more cases may require more empathy than you think. Although quarantine is keeping us on lockdown, try to spend time with your family. Keeping safe will ensure your health and that this will all resolve itself quicker. Remember to wash your hands for 30 seconds, practice social distancing, and keep hope that eventually this situation will get better.