This Age of COVID-19 Demands New Emergency Ethics
Ethics involve hard choices. People have to balance different rights and duties, and often have to demand exceptional tasks (and sacrifices) of particular groups. But, says Hugo Slim, Co-founder of the Oxford Consortium for Human Rights, in emergencies, humans also tend to become more ethical than usual, both as individuals and as collectives. We may panic buy and feel scared, but deep down we also know it is a time for exceptionally ethical conduct and for virtues that we do not always show, like kindness, humanity, courage, selflessness, and a commitment to the common good.
Slim identifies four areas on which we need to focus as we create new emergency ethics for the world, including good leadership which is “an essential factor in emergency ethics. Doing the right thing at the right time is not easy, and our political and technical leaders deserve our respect as they work long hours and make huge decisions about life, death, health systems, and economic loss. Emergencies need ethical leaders who communicate well, give a clear moral vision of what is best, and are ready to change policy fast when necessary. This means listening to human experience as well as statistical modelling, and speaking clearly, honestly, and regularly. Leadership is difficult, stressful, and lonely, which means leaders should have our support and understanding when they are acting with integrity in crisis.”
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via The New Humanitarian, 18 March 2020