The good, the bad and the scum of the earth

By Reyshimar Arguelles

It is only during crises that moral creeds are put into action. We get to discover (at times, unsurprisingly) a person’s actual capacity for selflessness and piety. On normal days, there exists the tendency to put on a mask and do “good deeds”. But it is only in the darkest days that a person’s true nature reveals itself, often without a shred of shame.

The CoViD-19 pandemic — an event never before experienced by the members of my generation — is just one of many crises that test the limits of personal morality. Across the globe, there have been acts of kindness and charity, and acts supercharged by ignorance and nihilism. For every Good Samaritan who works to help the elderly, there is an American college student who won’t mind getting the virus during spring break. Why bother about a global health crisis when you can take part in pointless #YOLO events.

In the Philippines, we have a fair share of these scumbags, starting with politicians, influencers, and media personalities who are naturally awful even on regular days. You know this because of how arrogantly they flaunt their privilege despite being on the same sinking boat.

One social media “influencer” went as far as calling commuters “mother****ers” amid a Luzon-wide shutdown meant to contain community transmission. What this appalling excuse for a human being misses in her pointless rant is the fact that many Filipinos in essential sectors like telecommunications, logistics, and food service need to work. Also, some are forced to work by their bosses and some just want to work to secure their jobs. Fortunately, the online world — the same world that is sustaining her pseudo-career — dragged her out of her ivory tower and labeled her as an elitist scumbag.

She is not the only one. In what could be the most striking example of insensitivity in these trying times, a senator posted a Facebook photo of himself with a caption pointing out that he tested negative for SARS-CoV-19 (the virus that causes CoViD-19). While thousands of persons under investigation and monitoring for the virus queue for what few test kits there are, this senator has had the gall to get tested (supposedly on call!) ahead of people who are coughing miserably and having no idea whether they have the virus or not.

Smiling with a medical attendant by his side, this particular politician was flooded with hate-filled comments. But the sauce to the crispy pata was when he (or his social media handlers) deleted the photo and filtered out the comments, thereby proving just how much of an appalling douchebag he really is. And now, he is urging to waive licensure exams to over 1,500 aspiring doctors in a clear act of saving face.

The least we need are people like him who think it is okay and “standard” for public officials to get preferential treatment. It is only clear that, in times like these, people are in solidarity with the most important people in society: doctors, nurses, medical technologists, pharmacists, drivers, food service crews, supermarket attendants, and everyone else who is directly involved in keeping the country afloat.

When it was announced that the first positive case of CoViD-19 is confined in The Medical City, establishments like carinderias and pharmacies around the hospital refused to cater to the medical staff. If that isn’t enough to burst your bubble, some property owners reportedly evicted tenants who worked in the hospital, creating a needless climate of paranoia-infused discrimination. It is fortunate enough for the staff to have a temporary place to live in along with medical supplies and goods courtesy of the city government and individuals.

Indeed, it is only during a pandemic that the best and worst of us are probed. But what is more important is this: sickness is an individual experience, but it is a shared experience, one that either affirms our love for humanity — or our denial of it.