I believe we are all feeling much grief, confusion, anxiety, sadness, and loss associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some are experiencing more losses than others. Some reasons for losses are obvious and some are hidden, or not so obvious.
We can feel grief about many things. We can’t go to things like the footy or other sporting events. We can’t get dressed up and go the theatre, a movie, a party, a wedding or the most important of all for many – we can’t go to work. Our life as we knew it has disappeared.
Maybe we don’t have a job anymore, or its hours have been reduced, or we have to work at home where there are plusses and minuses operating. The children have to be home-schooled.
Home may not be a safe place for many women and children where a frustrated male can be out of work, drunk, or on drugs and looking to vent his anger and frustration on those nearest. There is a loss of safety.
Even worse some have lost their homes, evicted because they have lost their job, and hence the means to pay for either their homes, or their rent.
To top all that off, many have lost their health due to the impact of the virus, or may have lost their lives, or the lives of someone in their family, or near and dear to them.
Life doesn’t seem fair
The virus does not discriminate, and life does not seem fair, but some continue to demand that it “should be” fair, and they complain – bitterly!
Compared with the losses mentioned above the things that are complained about seem trivial, and yet they matter to those who are complaining, and their complaints need to be listened to even if not taken very seriously.
People perceive that as well as everything mentioned, that they have lost their rights!
The loss of rights
Rights have come to the fore! One reporter wrote an article about how upset she was that her right to attend a funeral of a friend’s relative in another state was denied. Many would sympathise with her.
We have rights enshrined in our Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and there are rights in our Constitution. However, we do not have a right to attend a funeral, or a wedding, especially at a time like this. Nor do we have the right to refuse wearing a mask unless there is a specific reason not to. But many people infringing the special COVID-19 laws believe they have a right to do so.
Most of our legitimate human rights however are not absolute. When there is a situation where human rights come into conflict, then they may be overridden for a greater good.
Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to liberty, and the security of person. We all have a right to be free and safe. To ensure that we can all be free and safe our right to move around freely may be restricted for a greater good, to ensure our own safety and the safety of others regarding the transmission of COVID-19.”
Some freedoms have disappeared
At present we don’t have the right to go to a funeral because our freedom to roam around is restricted for a very good reason. We may desire, prefer, or really want to go, but we don’t actually have a right.
Our “rights” to refuse to wear a mask are not rights at all. Again, they are preferences, desires, wishes, because for some reason we don’t think we should have to wear one. People confuse their feelings about their wish to refuse to wear masks with having rights. It is their wish, or desire not to wear one – which is OK, but it’s not a right.
When a wish or desire becomes “My Right” it makes the wish or desire seem more serious or important and somehow legitimate. But really it is a demand, “I should be allowed to do…” backed by a sense of entitlement.
But real human rights are different.
The Declaration of Human Rights is about really vitally important things, not about the preferences and demands of people – some of them downright trivial. Rights mentioned are freedom, but in contrast to being held as a slave; the right not to be tortured or subjected to degrading or inhuman treatment. The right to be equal before the law; to be free from persecution, and so on.
Rights come with associated responsibilities. The responsibility that others are afforded the same rights, People wanting to “do their own thing” at a time like this can result in a sort of irresponsible anarchy where the virus can run amok, with the result that the hospital intensive care units are overloaded and many people put at unnecessary risk.
What the UN Secretary General says
In relation to COVID-19 the aim of any emergency measures is to reduce social, economic and health risks. A proper human rights perspective can help “beat the pandemic, putting a focus on the imperative of healthcare for everyone”. Putting individual “entitlement rights” before the legitimate human rights of others puts more people at risk to an indiscriminate and invisible virus.
“By respecting genuine human rights in this time of crisis, we will build more effective and inclusive solutions for the emergency of today and the recovery for tomorrow”. (United Nations Secretary General policy brief on COVID-19 and human rights)
We have a lot of losses to grieve for, but the loss of so-called ‘rights’ is not one of them.
© Kathleen Crawford 2020
(Other information from The Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and Australian Human Rights Commission, COVID-19 information)
Those who feel they have a right not to wear masks will be pleased to know that they can legitimately refuse to wear them while at the dentist 😊
Have a question?
Fill in the form below and I’ll be in touch shortly.