“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger--but recognize the opportunity.”
The world, through the Coronavirus (COVID 19) outbreak, is experiencing an unexpected crisis which has brought with it partial to complete lockdowns in almost all parts of the globe. This has popularized the mantra “Stay home! Go out only if necessary!” something that the world would not have envisaged would have been the anthem for the year 2020.
In Ghana, particularly, the bleak reality of a second week in lockdown brings a lot of uncertainty and anxiety to many. For sure, the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us one thing if at all; that clearly human life is so connected and intertwined so much so that none of us is safe until all of us are safe. It has shown that indeed the world is a global village and must be viewed as such for all intents and purposes.
Social Distancing: The New Normal
Ghanaians, a very social and outgoing group of people, have had to join the rest of the world to observe what is now commonly known as “Social Distancing”. Most, if not all, large gatherings have been cancelled, schools and offices have also been closed. Lively cities, towns and neighborhoods have not been exempted at all! Many major cities and towns globally are currently facing sequestration with individuals alike having to quarantine, either voluntarily or mandatorily. This has proven to be the best and safest way to slow the spread of the virus in the absence of a known cure. Social Distancing is now the new normal: “a symbol of hope and an embodiment of the struggle.”
Social Solidarity: Recognizing Opportunity in Crisis
Truly and at times, one needs some form of a crisis in order to “get the adrenaline flowing and to help realize one’s potential.” In times like this, we need to embrace chaos as a people and take the higher path of courage and understanding so as to combat this pandemic. Times like this call for Solidarity!
This “Social Solidarity”, as I call it, involves an interdependence between citizens and all persons across various groups as an essential means of fighting the virus and its related threats. This strengthens and motivates all persons so as to be successful in the fight. On the part of the Government, it encourages the formulation of policies that benefit public well-being even if it tends to be more expensive.
Ghanaians can show social solidarity in several ways, some of which I would enumerate below.
Ghanaians should in these times take good care of themselves emotionally, physically and spiritually. This would provide the much-needed focus and productivity to combat the virus and its spread. To do this, it requires taking the necessary precautions to keep safe as well as obediently complying with the measures and directions as laid down by the Government. We must remember that we are all in and accordingly there is a need for cooperation rather than hostility and division.
Also, Ghanaians must in these times trust in the Government institutions as a way of ensuring compliance. In times of crisis as this, the Government is looked up to as being capable of mitigating the damages that may be caused as a result of the pandemic. They can only do so if trusted fully. To trust the Government means that in times as this, petty politicking should be avoided.
Government on its part should exude high level of honesty in its dealings and communication with the people. It is very vital that leaders make decisions backed by empirical evidence, science-based projections and the available resources. In addition to this, Government must follow this up with emergency programs and interventions to support informal and low-income workers, extends exemptions to many persons in the supply chain so as to keep essential goods and services.
Above all, together we must all check up on one another, forge newer methods of communication and closeness and more so help tackle the problems as they come. All these can be done whilst respecting the social distance directive and by so doing stoking the fires of solidarity. We shine our lights on all and celebrate those at the frontline of the fight, who are working actively to bring the situation under control.
These acts of Social Solidarity demonstrate the value of human dignity and recognition of the importance of unity in times of crisis. Many people have been able to come out of various forms of trials and tribulations mainly because together with others, they brought forth acts of courage and compassion. Crisis as this is what we sometimes need so as to bring about much needed reflection and healing as a people and a nation. When these times are over, they would teach us lessons which would provide a watershed moment for readiness to face future trials and challenges. Until then, there cannot be a solution if we don’t face today’s crisis wisely and courageously! That we would do.
Long Live Ghana! Long live the people of Ghana!!
Reginald Nii Odoi