Hoarding for the apocalypse
I’m not going to join in the chorus of contempt for those hoarding for the COVID-19 apocalypse. While it certainly causes problems and doesn’t show a lot of rationality, should we really hate people for their stupidity?
Yes, Australians are easily scared and when they are scared they can act stupidly. That was demonstrated very clearly at the last federal election so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. I don’t know what else to tell you. It makes me angry too, but I have to remember no one sets out to be deliberately selfish or stupid. Moreover, in our embrace of neoliberalism and trickledown economics, this country often lionises greed. It seems odd for a PM who uses ‘socialism’ as a derogatory term to suddenly ask people to show a socialist attitude towards their groceries.
So before we rant and publicly shame these people for their ‘unAustralian behaviour,’ and lack of empathy for others, perhaps we owe them some empathy ourselves. I’m sure most people know what fear and stress feel like to some degree, but not everyone experiences these emotions in the same way. Consider someone easily anxious, further spooked by alarmist news reporting (which I would argue actually contributes to the problem) and inaccurate word of mouth. Consider their quite justifiable lack of faith in a government that has failed repeatedly – most recently during the bushfire disasters – to act effectively or speak truthfully in the face of disaster.
Now consider their reaction when they are repeatedly shamed and turned into memes on social media. As social distancing is encouraged, a lot of us will probably spend more time online, but people who feel personally attacked every time they log on may not feel they have that luxury and end up feeling truly isolated.
I don’t see how that is a good outcome.
Can we also accept that aside from this point, it is also ridiculous that we are suddenly speaking about food hoarding like it is the worst form of greed we see in Australia?
If I had opened this article by stating that, “Many Australians can’t feed their families or put a roof over their heads because a greedy minority is hoarding more wealth than they could ever need,” a lot of people would call me something along the lines of a bleeding heart, lefty SJW or suggest I move to communist China. Most of the rest would shrug indifferently and say something about rich people creating jobs. Yet switch just a few words and make a similar point about people having more toilet paper than they need and a lot of people lose their sh*t (see what I did there?)
If people temporarily not being able to get necessities like toilet paper makes you more angry than people living in permanent poverty, you might like to reflect about why.
The importance of staying calm in a crisis doesn’t just relate to avoiding panic. It also relates to our ability to think rationally about our response, control our frustration and remember our compassion for others. A good friend of mine commented that for most of us, the major impact of COVID-19 will be felt for a few years at most, but the impact of our behaviour at this time could last a lot longer.
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