When a friend of mine told me she has COVID-19, my first reaction was shocking. In the millisecond, I wanted to know how she got it. When I heard she caught it because of her carelessness to protect herself, my respond shifted into a furious mode. “How could you be so careless?” I threw the question to her. In her sadness and frustration, she said to me, “You are like everyone else, judging me because I got COVID-19!”
That statement slapped me into reality. I should respond compassionately, and not with judgement and anger. However, I know why my first reaction was non- compassionate. According to my friend, almost everyone in her list of friends and family reacted the same way.
The judgement and anger didn’t happen to her alone. Last year, a friend of mine shared the same reaction when she found out her husband caught the virus while treating a patient in the ICU. He got infected despite the protection he had from PPE equipment and following protocol. Both of us could see where her anger came from, and we reflected on that. We acknowledge this anger is not an isolated expression in an individual. It is a collective behaviour towards the virus. We view the virus as a threat that takes away our freedom in life. Therefore, our first reaction towards the virus is anger and judgement.
For more than a year, COVID-19 changed our financial and economic freedom, and social interaction and intimacy with others. Many people also lost their jobs and income. We also experienced social disturbance within families, societies and politically. At the same time, we are trying to survive this. We ought to get angry and be judgmental, but we can’t express our rage to the virus. That would be expressing emotion to the wall. The anger and judgement need to be heard, and who is the best receptor of our rage?