Health is a peace issue. One of the objectives of the School of Peace curriculum says that the participants will be able to “explain that disability, health, sex, and gender justice are peace issues.” The participants must “analyze the interconnection between disability, health, and economic injustices as peace issues.”
As the novel coronavirus, baptized as COVID-19, came to spread from China to Hong Kong, to other Asian countries and beyond, most of the plans had to be dropped temporarily. APAY did the same. The plans of ICF to hold a thematic workshop in Bangladesh is indefinitely postponed.
We could not fly to India in February to do the thematic workshop. Thankfully, it pulled through with Dr. Wati Longchar’s help.
For the moment, we continue to explore possibilities to hold a thematic workshop in Cambodia in April and to organize the Asian Peace Summit in May, albeit provisionally. We can only hope the virus will go away soon and that everything will be back to normal.
The onset of COVID-19 exposed so much of human frailty on the one hand, but it also surfaced the compassionate side of some people, on the other hand. People scrambled for surgical face masks, hand sanitizers, alcohol, and even toilet paper. Some moneyed folks tended to hoard these items. It also surfaces racist and xenophobic attitudes and tendencies. We hear of governments trying to hide the facts to keep a good image, at the expense of public health.
Yet, we also learn that medical doctors, health workers, and journalists continued to serve the people, giving out information about the virus, or serving in the hospitals. These they did to the extent of risking their lives. Some of them died.
This situation shows how health is interconnected with cultures, beliefs, economics, politics, ecology, and social justice. That health intertwines with our values and lifestyles. It also challenges our faith in God’s goodness and love, and our understanding of greed and evil. As COVID-19 continues to sow fear amongst people, may we continue to reflect on the meaning of our existence, on our health being intertwined with our Planet’s or Mother Earth’s health. This is crucial in peacebuilding. We are transient in this Earth. We simply live in the meantime. We may say, “This too shall pass.” Nevertheless, this circumstance calls us to have faith and live it out.