COVID-19, the moral thing to do.

I have some thoughts I want to share about the current situation regarding the corona virus outbreak happening all over the world. Not only here in Austria the government has initiated measures such as to prohibit leaving our homes – with certain exceptions and rules, i.e. buying groceries or going for a walk while maintaining a distance to others of at least 1m (if sufficient at all?). Therefore a lot of people stay at home, but there is also a significant number that do not.

It seems some people just do not see the importance of these measures. Maybe some of them are afraid of giving up their freedom – as for sure many are, whether they stay home or not. The fear of loosing our freedom surely is of meaning and absolutely understandable considering not only Austrias national-socialistic past. This is why I hypothesize that it is healthy not to feel comfortable with limiting our own freedom, because it shows awareness of yourself as an individual – among other things and mechanisms. I’m certainly not saying you should give up your fear, or rather your wish for freedom.

What I want is for you to consider that our own freedom ends where the freedom of another starts. And analogically, our obligations start where rights of others emerge and vice versa. People do have the (human) right to live as well as the (human) right of not being harmed (in German: Recht auf Unversehrtheit). Also, one of the basic principles of biomedical ethics is to do no harm. If you go outside to live on your social life and to act out your freedom you are interfering in these rights of other individuals. Especially of the ones who are older or have underlying health problems – such as people who have asthma or your grandparents, for example. By doing so you put their lives and welfare and those of the healthcare workers out there at risk. How can any healthcare worker help you or me or anybody if he or she is exhausted to an extent that he or she needs care or gets sick, mentally or physically?!

Frankly, you don’t have to be ok with the state enforced limitations, but please consider shifting your focus from defending your own freedom to protecting the safety of others for the time being, because it is our moral obligation to do so.

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