Wed | Jun 16, 2021

Clergyman: More to social distancing

Published:Saturday | March 21, 2020 | 12:19 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer

General Secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union, Reverend Karl Johnson, in supporting the National Days of Prayer and Fasting which started at 6 p.m. yesterday and will run until 6 p.m. tomorrow as declared by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, has called for more attention to be paid to promoting the merits of social distancing as a vital tool in helping to curb the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Social distancing is an established distance which people are expected to keep between themselves and others while socialising, close enough to allow for communication but not near enough for the transmission of an infectious disease from one person to the other. Reverend Johnson is concerned that while this precautionary measure is absolutely necessary, the way it is being promoted leaves a lot more to be desired.

“If I were actually advising the Government and other shapers of influence, I would tell them that more needs to be done about the dimension of social distancing as it relates to affirming the common good. What is happening is that people are more using it as self-preservation tactic that can descend into a kind of self-centredness or selfishness, if it’s not an enlightened approach,” he told The Gleaner.

Reverend Johnson said that the way social distancing is being promoted might have led to the reported incident of a man being beaten and thrown off a bus, after he sneezed a number of times. Passengers rained blows on him before forcibly evicting him from the vehicle, despite the insistence of the driver that he had always known the man to bothered by bouts of sneezing.

“So it’s a kind of rabid, insular self-preservation which really isn’t at the heart of social distance. There is a dimension of it which needs to be given more visibility – that I am not doing it only for myself but also for others, to help in reducing the spread. We say it but I don’t think it is being ramped up enough – the aspect that I am doing it for the common good of humanity, beyond self.”

Meanwhile, in declaring the proclamation, Sir Patrick encouraged, “All Jamaicans to continue reflection and prayer making this a time of soul-searching and embracing moral, ethical and social responsibility, even after the passage of this pandemic”.