Stigmatization against COVID-19 patients, though not unexpected, is certainly not a surprise. People fear and hate what they do not understand — the default setting of ignorance. For a disease that doesn’t take anything more than a momentary lapse in judgment, even for the most cautious people, COVID-19 stigmatization is hard to understand. And it is an issue that we as a people and nation need to have a collective dialogue on.
Also read: Black seed as an immune system booster
Why COVID-19 stigmatization is wrong and unnecessary
First of all, stigmatization in any form is wrong. “Oh no, but this one it’s a life and death issue” — you’d say. Yes, there’s no denying that. From royalty, to presidential palaces, to the commoner in the street — COVID-19 has humbled us all — and sent a lot of us into hiding. Which is why we need to understand that we’re all fighting a common enemy.
In case you didn’t realize it, the apathy you’re showing towards victims of this or other diseases is not different from that shown to you by the White person you love to call out for racism. You’re both operating from a perspective of ignorance — holding on to your prejudices because you just know you’re right. Two sides of the same intolerant coin; you don’t see face to face, but you certainly have the same values.
Anyway, let’s get back to my reason for writing this rant; about why COVID-19 stigmatization should be guarded against.
Before COVID-19 became a thing, there was a dialogue going on about why the church can’t help solve the homelessness crises by letting the homeless use their auditoriums during the night. First things first; you don’t stop being homeless because you’re sleeping in a church auditorium. Second, people are people: open your doors to all manner of persons and before you know it, the drum set is gone, the air conditioners have rebelled and gone away to serve new owners and… I don’t even need to say much. You get the picture already.
The pressure on the church became even heavier in the presence of the novel coronavirus disease. Which is why I was happy to read that Rev. Gideon Titi-Ofei had given out a 100 bed facility to the Tema West Public Health Directorate, to be used as an isolation centre for patients of the disease.
It didn’t take long for him to withdraw the offer. Why? Residents living close to the facility protested against having an isolation centre close to their living space. Oh, wow.
What is wrong with us? In one breath we accuse people of not doing enough for others in the society while stopping them when they make the effort to do right. This is how stigmatization looks like. And the bigger effect is that it ties the hands of people who can help, but cannot do much because of the ground rules we have laid.
And this is a problem of COVID-19 stigmatization. Our silence and (for some) justification of that action by the residents is the collective hypocrisy I’m hinting at. We see all these wrongs being done but we’re content enough to sit in our corner and pretend it’s not happening. The same way we thought China was so far off, yet, here we are.
In any case, some people who have mild symptoms of the disease would have to self isolate and receive treatment at home. Would you prevent your legal housemate from being treated at home? Oh, you’ll leave the house for them? Great! What if that friend you want to go perch with has the same intolerant mentality like yours? Would they let you in — knowing you have a case of coronavirus at home? What if the guest houses turn you away too?
So you see, your intolerance and pride to be hoisting high the flag of COVID-19 stigmatization would send you nowhere. If anything at all, it can only guarantee that you’d die alone — in case you also become a patient, and everyone thinks you shouldn’t be anywhere close to other healthy humans.
Never forget what the good Lord Jesus said; as the criteria for which He’d choose His people. “Whatsoever you do to the least of My brothers; you are doing unto Me.”
Stop preventing people from doing the good that you’re unable to do. Live and let live. Don’t be doing the devil’s work.