Humanity. What does it even mean these days? Is it like a vow that needs to be renewed every once in a while, a word with an ever-changing definition, or something we’ve thrown out the window altogether? Thomas Hobbes, a 17th-century philosopher, argued that humans are naturally selfish and greedy; and in perilous times like this, it’s nearly impossible to refute his statement. The way we treat one another has and always will be an insurmountable impasse.
Due to the state of the world, a universal scolding wouldn’t hurt anybody. We need it. When the virus spread, true colours- admittedly, the colours we always knew were there- shone brighter than any beacon. The panic buying, people hoarding all the toilet paper for themselves…however, to some extent, it was a smart move because nowadays, toilet paper is a hot commodity and insanely expensive. How on earth does it finish so fast?
One day our grandchildren will be laying toilet paper to waste and we’ll get flashbacks of the Caucasians in a messy country hoarding toilet paper of all things. Who would’ve thought?
Furthermore, if you’ve ever been the person who thought racism or racial discrimination is not a thing anymore, I’ve got news for you. Turning on the news these days seems incredibly redundant because there’s only one thing that matters, and that is COVID-19. More cases, more deaths, a substantial amount of confusion for university students in certain countries -will they or won’t they repeat the semester, or graduate, etc.- and an insubstantial amount of medical resources to go around.
On top of that, we’ve either heard of or witnessed the racism and discrimination directed towards Asians -or anyone who just so happens to ‘look’ Chinese. For instance, the woman who got doused in acid right outside her home in Brooklyn, resulting in second-degree burns. Or the adolescents slewing racial slurs… even the president of the United States blaming Asians for the cause of the virus, even going as far as referring to the virus as the Chinese-virus. Were the memes and jokes not enough?
Funnily enough, after People of Color jumped to their defence, the Chinese government started targeting Africans because they feared a second wave of the virus. With a total disregard for treating people like, you know, human beings, they resorted to evicting our brethren, imposing several coronavirus tests as well as causing the general public to shun Africans. Is this the energy we’re supposed to roll with? I think not. Let’s not forget to mention how France wanted to start human trials on us Africans. We see your blatant racism, and we’re not here for it either.
Moreover, the increase of violence in South Africa is enough to cause a migraine. South Africans have not only demanded that their president lift the alcohol ban, but they have also started looting liquor stores and trucks carrying food parcels- going as far as stoning the trucks and injuring the drivers. We’ve always been privy to the passion South Africans have. Who can forget the xenophobic attacks of 2019? The shift from attacking foreigners to each other is appalling and deplorable all the same. The pandemic has, without a doubt, unleashed something deeply primitive within us. There’s a stench of desperation and fear that’s just too hard to miss.
Now while the pandemic stress does somewhat explain why people may be acting out and resorting to violence, it surely does not excuse the unneeded barbaric behaviour. We aren’t just losing people to the virus; you can add heinous crimes such as rape, battery, and domestic violence to the list, as well as corrupt governments juggling all of our lives in their hands.
Corruption and crises tend to go hand in hand, and if politics has taught us anything, it’s that there’s always a predator lurking in the shadows, waiting to prey on the misfortune of others. With the fourteen billion dollars from the World Bank approved a little over a month ago, meant to sustain economies of developing countries, one can only hope for the best but expect the worst, as Africa is home to some of the most corrupt countries on the planet.
Humanity, the quality of being humane; kindness, mercy, sympathy, etc. A trait that sets us apart from any deity -if you’re into that sort of thing- and what theoretically makes us better than animals. Where is our humanity now? Is it found by watching celebrities sing Imagine by John Lennon on Instagram or tuning into a news channel just to watch uncultured swine make racist remarks and claims about when the virus will be eradicated and throwing the concept of diplomacy out the window?
One cannot speak for the rest of the world but what about us? That desire for ubuntu, Pan-Africanism, making Wakanda real. Uniting and working together to make the world a better place rather than turning to acts of violence and preying on each other’s weaknesses. Where is that drive?
Perhaps the wheel can never be broken and the system of things will never change. Balance makes the world go round: the good and the bad, the rich, and the poor, etc. It is a system that humans created and decided will help the human race thrive. At one point we’ve all asked ourselves what our purpose on the planet is. What are we doing here and are we just going to say deuces like the dinosaurs? No one knows- we come up with our own analysis and conclusion as a result of our individualism; it’s purely subjective.
At the end of the day, the hurt we cause one another, such as waging wars or allegedly creating and spreading viruses to wipe out certain populations, is a telltale sign that we are going to be the cause of our own demise. We are the catalyst in any series of events you may fabricate in your head. During this time, some real introspection may very well be essential to the versions of ourselves we’ll be after the pandemic; so, on this path to inevitable destruction and extinction, we might as well work on being humane towards one another. Don’t you agree?
Written by Theresa Ntswaki.