1. This is an opportunity to understand and accept reality:
We have to understand that humankind will continue to live with infectious diseases in various forms. In the past, we could feely used our hands to clean and touch our face, but now we can no longer do so. Even if we need to, we have to make sure we cleanse our hands thoroughly first. This mindful hand-washing helps to make us more careful and, at the same time, gives us more opportunities to be mindful in our daily lives, whereas in the past we might have taken many things for granted, including touching our face as many as 15–20 times an hour without even realizing it.
2. This is an opportunity to practice mindful living:
News reports about conflicts and armed fighting have taken a back seat to the coronavirus outbreak. Even news about the US and Iran has stopped. In Thailand, reports on the political unrest have also declined. Conflicts between the government and opposition parties are being ignored by the people as their attention is focused on COVID-19, to the point of driving them crazy. We have to find a careful balance between carelessness and craziness. We should be aware that the coronavirus is not the only dangerous virus that is spreading in our society—even though COVID-19 harms our body. Fear is also spreading, harming our minds and even impacting our humility, causing us to become selfish and to look down on those who are infected.
We stock up on masks, alcohol, and other hygiene products, even though they may not be necessary, especially for those who are not infected. Now masks are out of stock throughout Thailand and are not available for those suffering from tuberculosis, pneumonia, or influenza. The shortage of face masks has serious repercussions as it means that caretakers and medical personnel such as doctors and nurses do not have enough masks to wear while they work. Warnings are being given to people who are not sick that they shouldn’t buy and use masks. This demonstrates that COVID-19 itself can be less harmful than the fear of COVID-19. Therefore, as well as recognizing that we need to act to prevent COVID-19 from infecting our body, we should also ensure that we prevent our fear of COVID-19 from infecting our mind. Let’s support each other on both levels.
3. This is an opportunity to be generous and support each other:
Let’s be thankful for the countless people and groups who have been volunteering at hospitals. We have heard stories that when COVID-19 began spreading in Wuhan, China, many people began volunteering to support each other. These acts of selflessness and kindness included providing rides for nurses returning home to rest and then bringing back them to the hospital for work. Some volunteers drove all night long to serve those doctors and nurses so that they could have an opportunity to rest before continuing their work. Actions such as these may begin with one volunteer, but can quickly multiply as many more follow their example. These small volunteer activities can build up into a network sharing the volunteer spirit during times of crisis. This situation has great potential to help each of us to reduce our selfish behaviors and attitudes and increase our generosity in support of each other. We need to stay connected and encourage people to express their goodness from within, which ultimately helps others.
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