Empathy amongst fears of COVID-19

Leuven Life

16 maart 2020
Auteur(s): Esther Kaufman
COVID-19 presents an international crisis that may lead some to panic. However, it is important not to completely forget empathy during these difficult times, as we are stronger together.

By Esther Kaufman

Contributing Writer

Change is before us. Unprecedented national and transnational quarantines against coronavirus (COVID-19) have plunged us into times of great uncertainty. Although life as we know it is changing at a rapid pace, it opens an opportunity to lean into our most human instinct; our necessity for community. In times of mass self-isolation, we must not neglect our instincts as social creatures. What can we do?

Leuven is particularly unique for its density of young students. This gives us an advantage as 80% of us are expected to be asymptomatic or prone to only show mild symptoms. This grants our community an extraordinary pool of eligible volunteers. As fear runs rampant, we are given an opportunity to amplify a message of human empathy as one that is boundless in nature. 

“This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

“On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays

What can you do?

As much remains unknown about coronavirus (COVID-19) sweeping our globe, we can be certain there are those who face higher risks when infected. Older adults, those with heart disease, diabetes and lung disease are especially sensitive to the consequences of this pandemic. For this reason, we should be especially careful to protect those community members who fall in these categories.

Volunteers are needed to assist with the following: 

  • grocery shopping
  • picking up medications
  • taking care of animals (walking the dogs)
  • initiating virtual social contact (letters, messages, phone calls) 

If you think you can help – please let your neighbors know through resources offered here by the city of Leuven. Following the link you can apply to be a volunteer directly, or simply print out or share the message below: