Fear can bring out the worst in us. When the coronavirus pandemic erupted in China in January, Asian-Americans shared stories on social media about how people would avoid them out of fear of contracting the virus. Now it is common to find stories of violence. A number of Asian-Americans have been assaulted because people believed they carried COVID-19.
Such stories remind us of what happened to Asian-Americans in 2003 at the height of the SARS pandemic, or the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, when news of the disease’s Mexican origin caused a wave of discrimination and violence against Latino-Americans.
At the same time, internet scams, price gouging and hoarding have become all too common all too quickly as the coronavirus scare has deepened. Customers have emptied shelves of sanitary and medicinal products, and the internet is full of stories and photos of people walking out of stores with carts full of toilet paper and water bottles.
Be mindful of what you are purchasing, and how much of it you are buying. Leave something for the next customer. And if you’re a business, for goodness’ sake, don’t raise your prices to unreasonable levels. First, the state will likely catch you. More than that, it’s just plain wrong.
During times of panic, it’s all too easy to think of ourselves and fail to see the moral consequences of our actions. What we do now will set the precedent for future outbreaks, so rather than repeat the mistakes of the SARS and H1N1 pandemics, we must remember to think of others, and resist the urge to embrace selfishness and hate.