The science of compassion

As more and more human lives get sadly sucked into this viral rabbit hole, devoured by this haughty virus, in a physically and socially distanced world, the internet seems more than a soul connection, and one cannot ignore the human cacophony around.

Having firsthand seen so much death and destruction from coronavirus in the past few months, seen more than one could hope to ever unsee, it all gets magnified when even mighty leaders and stalwarts don’t appear immune to this viral wrath. At such a time, only one thought reverberates through my mind. This is a virus. It does not discriminate. Rich, poor, young, old, color, creed. The virus does not discriminate.

Although each one of us may have a different level of tolerance to it, or how much it may affect us in the short or long run, no amount of privilege can make us immune to it if we don’t follow facts laid forth by science. As though this pandemic is a climactic chapter in the Book of Cosmos, we attempt to fathom what it aims to teach humanity, this cosmic reboot feels like a most bitter pill to swallow. And just as the virus does not discriminate, we must remind ourselves daily, that neither do we as medical workers. As much as we may be tempted to join in the cacophony that divides us humans, the doctor-patient relationship runs far deeper than that. We do not discriminate on patients based on privilege or man-made distinctions of money, politics, or religion.

From the get-go, we as physicians, as scientists watched the disease get tossed in the dark night of logistics, science, faith, and politics. We witnessed our closest friends, family, coworkers, and ourselves in this viral sea of havoc from which no one is spared. We wake up each morning thankful for the blessing of a new day and hope to be of use to mankind and to continue to do no harm. We remain steadfast through it all. As medical workers and frontline essential community workers put their life on the line, our only hope is that the public, by and large, owns up to their responsibility of maintaining safety and aims to protect one another and their beliefs don’t get tossed up on a daily basis.

But that human responsibility can only come into society if, as scientists, we first take in the onus to explain that safety is a two-way street and what goes around comes around, when we ourselves do not discriminate those that depend on us for their wellbeing. Only then can we hope that the world is able to see through our eyes. That at the end of the day, nature and science are inarguably two giants that tower over humanity, a cut above and beyond the human rhetorics and cacophony. This disease is sad as it is, whomever it may affect. Hoping we all come out of this storm, stronger and more compassionate than we began.

Ayushi Chugh is a neurologist.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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