We are publishing submissions about the COVID-19 crisis from readers daily on NewPhilosopher.com in the hope that it help us all make sense of what is happening, and as a historical record of how it made us feel. Here are your thoughts, from around the world.

By Pauline Yap, South Australia

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic permeates all facets of our lives; everything we hold true and dear to ourselves can be taken away with a single virus! This virus continues to shape our humanity, like a fast-acting catalyst that promotes replacement of the once singular ‘I’ (and everything that I deem as important) to the collective ‘us’.

We are forced to consider our humanity. On a superficial level, we dutifully abide by government health advice and implementations. On a deeper level, our capacity for empathic love for others are measured by our responses, actions and duty of care especially to the vulnerable. Our social and emotional obligations to one another have never been more challenged than at a time like this! Uniquely human, we respond by meeting presenting opportunities to love thy neighbour as thyself. The crisis puts on display the complexity of our humanity! The raiding of supermarkets for bare essentials is instigated by fear, driving human desperation and thinking only for ‘self’.

While social distancing is beneficial in safeguarding the majority, such practices may dissolve into ‘social isolation’, holding captive one of humanity’s most prized possessions - human touch. Virtual interactions brought about by advances in technology are good measures for restricting viral transmissions but these interventions lack the same offerings as physical interactions – hands to hold, warm hugs to embrace and a peace of mind whilst sitting next to others on public transport! The reduced human connection poses threats especially to the mental well-being of those who are not technologically savvy.

As we combat against this novel virus, perhaps to be human in 2020 means remembering our humanity – employing the use of our universal language, love, making room for increased kindness and compassion starting with ‘I’ and “what I can do” with the greater ‘us’ in mind.

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