Syeda Uruba Nisar
Responsible citizenship refers to a phenomenon that involves the engagement of local communities in various ‘positive’ activities’ ranging from local to national level. A responsible citizen can be anyone; someone who has engaged in a minor cleanliness campaign to someone educating people on democratic values and civic engagement in the time of crisis. Responsible citizenship can be described as an essential step towards the formation of healthy and civilized societies.
It involves a combination of knowledge, skills, attitude and action to maintain an active society; which includes understanding and accommodating needs of others in times of national and/or global emergencies. A responsible citizen is one who is aware of their part in community development and works towards making the world a better place.
It has never been clearer that we are all global citizens, and, therefore, all of us have a part to play.
The spread of the novel coronavirus has resulted in postponement and/or cancellation of major events across Pakistan; including the Pakistan Day Parade. With people wondering whether a major lockdown was “all this necessary?”, let us take a look at one of the past pandemics in Philadelphia in 1918, and the spread of the flu.
In September 1918, Philadelphia held a planned Liberty Loan Parade during World War I. But the parade took place when the pandemic, known as the Spanish flu or the H1N1 virus, hit the city. The virus spread to Philadelphia through the Philadelphia Navy Yard. In a matter of days, 600 sailors were infected by the virus. Yet, Philadelphia didn’t cancel its parade, bringing 200,000 Philadelphians together. By October 01, there were 635 new cases in Philadelphia. The parade isn’t all to blame, though. Other factors contributed to the flu’s spread. Still, this was a lesson in “what not to do” during a pandemic. On the other hand, St. Louis cancelled its parade. In the end, the death toll in St. Louis did not rise above 700. While in Philadelphia, 16,000 had died in six months.
So, the readers (reading this passage) across Pakistan can learn a great deal from the aforementioned examples.
Pakistan has reported 6,160 confirmed coronavirus cases, till date, resulting in 113 deaths. The spread of COVID-19 can be slowed by practising social distancing, by avoiding public spaces, and generally limiting our everyday movement. This can only be possible if we act and behave like “responsible citizens”.
According to a “disease simulation” created and analyzed by the Washington Post, the key to containing COVID-19 still lies in “social distancing”. The simulation proved that more social distancing keeps more people healthy, and people’s movement should be restricted by taking away their “going out” excuses. Results showed that moderate social distancing usually outperformed forced quarantine, and extensive social distancing usually worked best for all.
However, real-life COVID-19 is different from “simulation” and, therefore, real-life scenarios are more complex. COVID-19 is spreading through our human networks and a single person’s careless behaviour can cause ripple effects; infecting dozens of people in the vicinity. Therefore, for the sake of others, and our health, we should all practise social distancing and help our government save lives.