SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English
Nahed ALMEREE “COVID-19 and Human Societies”
The crisis of virus diseases, which is known as “COVID-19” instantly, gave us new social rules like “isolation policy” or “social distances” for the sake of prevention of infection or to prevent possible spread of infections. Above all, traditional social communication style for expressing our acceptance or supporting others, such as physical touching like patting shoulders, shaking hands, hugging each other and kissing, gave us big changes.
Forms of greetings, which were built for centuries to show habits or traditions of intimacies, are different depend of countries. In the Arabian worlds, shaking hands and kissing is the most important style of greetings. Particularly, in the way of greetings, the significance of kissing depends according to the district of on the Arabian countries.
For example, in the countries bordering of Syria and Egypt, people kiss on foreheads,cheeks, shoulders and the back of hands. Adding to those styles, they touch on noses also at the countries in the Arabian Peninsula. In the Moroccan area countries, they kiss both the palm and the back of hands. There are variety of meanings of all these forms of greetings. In some Arabian countries, when relatives visit their homes and if they do not kiss on cheeks by hugging each other, they are thought to be impolite. There are quite a few people who kiss on cheeks twice or thrice.
People who live around the Mediterranean Seas understands such cultural varieties among each other. It is no wonder that people, who live alongside the Atlantic Ocean, would be confused how to greet when they conclude their negotiations, agreements or treaties. However, they agree to conclude through handshaking. Everybody understand that they have obligations to respect cultural peculiarities which are different depending on areas. When people go to foreign countries for the first time, they can check the habits or traditions of visiting countries to avoid misunderstandings or embarrassments.
When I was in Syria, some Japanese, who has felt sick first for kissing, became accustomed to kiss intimate friends. However, COVID-19 is insensitive in respect of cultures under superiority of public securities. Under prevention of spread of infection, the point is group-oriented responsibilities. It is not social common-sense nor individual rights or duties.
Until the time when such new social styles become new common sense, it might be neglected. But, such styles would become normal social style which produce next generations and be called as customs or traditions. Deliberate establishment of new social styles should be based on relative and scientific values. Such values should be based on social consent and support which is measurable and interpretable. In case of virus, however, which cannot be seen by human eyes and attack human beings indiscriminately, decisive judgement should be made by medical specialists, not by influential leaders nor politicians.
In the “after-corona world”, expression of our feelings physically or physical communications between human beings or human-to-any objects may not be acceptable. It may be necessary for ourselves to keep certain safe distance between human beings and any objects. Corona forced us to keep “social distance”. Social distance does not mean discontinuation of social or individual communications by human beings. Rather, I think corona has strengthened our social communications and made us reconsider style of communication and recognize its importance. And, corona has made us to strengthen our interests in helping others to prevent infections and spread its knowledge. It made us reevaluate the importance of thoughtfulness for others.
We came to know limitation of ourselves by corona and realized that we are just social living things which ask for existence, good health, safe and rich life. In order to establish “after-Corona world”, we have to study starting from “social distance” and review our relations between foods and good health, reconsideration of priorities of expenditures on the individual, government or national levels.
Nahed ALMEREE / 2019 Raccoon (Syria)
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala