Today I read a post from George W. Bush pleading the need for compassion during the Covid crisis. I was surprised to see it coming from him. During his presidency he neglected to send aid to New Orleans for five days following massive flooding caused by hurricane Katrina.

At the time, I thought his inaction was horrific and lacking empathy. Now, even he is pleading for compassion. At the moment, news stories focus on the negative. But worldwide, people risk their lives to provide medical care to others infected with the virus. People are rallying to provide care packages and donate hand-made masks to medical staff who are facing shortages. People around the world are racing to learn about the virus and develop tests, find potential cures, and create a vaccine.

On the other hand, people are dying.

“These are strange times.”

I hear it said a lot, tongue-in-cheek. A lot of people are dying and many more will die. They will die because of policy failures at all levels of the American government. It is easy for many to shrug and say that the world must go on. Sure, we must go on, but the machine that is Capitalism does not have to go on.

Privileged People in Power

The people who benefit the most are the ones promoting business as usual. It won’t matter to them until it affects them personally though it may never affect them.

How privileged is it for a president to say he does not believe it is his job to help supply the nation’s healthcare industry with masks and gowns? Or for the cabinet to dissolve the Covid crisis task force while deaths are still increasing? Will they ever plead the need for compassion looking back after his presidency?

Our Survival Instinct

Some people become cut throat during times of perceived shortage of resources or when they are afraid. Sure, fear in these times triggers us to want to say, “Play on the beach at your own risk.” At worst, some people even believe in culling the population. But fear feeds on itself as does compassion fatigue.

For some people, it is easier not to care or at least pretend not to care, but collectively not caring will also affect our survival. Studies suggest that caring is part of our survival instinct, as is hope and connection. So, even though some politicians suggest that we continue business as usual, the need for compassion during the Covid crisis is not dead, nor should we let it die.

For more information, learn how to fight compassion fatigue by contacting Sarah Tso, LCSW.