Forum: Look out for others during outbreak

Professor David Chan makes a compelling argument (Drill into what makes people socially responsible, March 14), breaking down what drives people to act and how understanding these factors can foster socially responsible behaviour.

His model gives us the "how" in making people socially responsible. But the "why" is equally important.

I would like to suggest three reasons why we should act.

First, we must be conscientious and take advice and warnings seriously.

When news of Covid-19 broke in January, the Government advised Singaporeans on the use of face masks and the need to see a doctor if experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Leave of absence (LOA) and home quarantine orders were also put in place for the protection of the community.

Most recently, the Government has also advised that we defer all non-essential travel.

These warnings are not frivolous and we should do all we can to help the authorities flatten the pandemic curve.

Second, we need to realise that we are all connected. Our population of more than 5.6 million is crammed into an area smaller than New York City. This means that as we travel and work and live, we will be sharing the spaces with other Singaporeans and residents here. Social distancing is a must.

Third, we should show concern, and consider others and their situations before considering ourselves. As we distance ourselves physically, this is a time that we should use to grow closer in our relationships with one another.

Reach out, via phone, text or e-mail, to show concern, to remind loved ones that they are not alone. Fears and worries flee when reassurances are shared.

Show empathy to those who have been stricken with the virus, or are under LOA or home quarantine orders. Give concern to the more vulnerable in society - the elderly and the less privileged. Reach out and touch someone, without physically touching them.

If we can convince ourselves of the need to be conscientious, connected and concerned, we will be socially responsible, and the hows will follow. We can overcome with unity and kindness.

William Wan (Dr)

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