It is threatening. The Corona Virus has changed–within days and weeks–life on the whole globe: over 1400 deaths (as of 13 Feb), over 60,000 people infected, and hundreds of millions of others are confined to their homes. Fear is growing and the economy in China and internationally have been negatively affected, as travel, communication, business, and teaching etc. are limited.
The positive side: I am really impressed by the enormous speed of measures taken in China. In my country Switzerland it would be very difficult -with all respect to critique- to handle 1.4 billion people, 175 times the population of Switzerland. It is an immense task and I deeply respect the Chinese efforts. The World Health Organisation (WHO), whose headquarters in Geneva can be seen from my GAF office, is also very fast and indispensable for coordinated research, action, and standards. Such a crisis shows that the multilateral UN system is absolutely necessary for humanity. This pandemic also makes us aware that life remains very vulnerable, even with all technologies and modern medicine.
The negative side: International solidarity actions are still limited. If America supports China with a hundred million dollars, it is good, but this (in fact modest) help would be linked with the political remark that US is the greatest contributor among the helpers, although the US has cut the budgets of most of the UN agencies, including the WHO. Governments, NGOs, and philanthropic initiatives must abstain from exploiting humanitarian catastrophes for their own political or economic gain. “Hunger as weapon” was used throughout history but does not justify this abuse.
Corona Virus – The Agape Response: Agape – the lead value in the name of the Geneva Agape Foundation – means unconditional love, compassion, and empathy. Agape means to place the needs of the other, the suffering, and the Common Good at the center–not one’s own short-term interests. Agape means to abstain from the temptation to exploit the dependency of the other in a situation of disaster and despair for one’s own benefit. Agape means reciprocity to love the other as oneself: It then creates the confidence that others would also unconditionally support me if I need them. Agape does not mean to forget about my own needs, but to be assured that my own long-term interests will be reached best when I serve the other in the best possible way. Agape for Christians means to remain aware of the vulnerability of life even with all technological progress, but that confidence and hope remain vital as we trust that we can fall, but only in God’s hand. We already know that climate mitigation and disaster management will require much of this attitude and value. Agape Climate Action will be a motto for Geneva Agape Foundation. But firstly, we want to express our compassion with our dear GAF friends in China and all people suffering from this situation.