We have been hearing of people resisting doing social isolation in regard to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Some who were meant to be in quarantine conditions have gone out risking the possibility of spreading the illness.
Others have quoted their rights and protested about the violation of their rights when asked to submit to tests.
Some have lied about being in ‘hot spot’ areas.
Then there are some who deny that the virus is real at all!
People behave like this for a number of reasons. Fear, ignorance, stress, and other reasons which can greatly affect the behaviour of some.
How do we determine the apparent clash that seems to happen between the rights of the individual and the rights of society?
In the last several years we have seen collectives come to power. Communism, Fascism and other forms of dictatorships squashed the rights of the individual in favour of the rights of the collective, or a particular dictator.
In the 60’s and beyond, we have seen a strong reaction to the collective mentality by stressing the rights of the individual.
In Catholic Christian ethics we need to preserve both the rights of the individual and the rights of others.
One of the central beliefs in Catholic Christian ethics is the dignity of the human person and human life at all levels.
We are created in the image of God. All creation reflects something of God, all creation is sacred, and God loves all of creation. However, there is a special sacredness about the human person.
Central to our beliefs is also what Jesus taught us, ‘to love our neighbour as ourselves’. Any form of unhealthy self-centredness is not only contrary to the teachings of Jesus, but it is also detrimental to our own wellbeing and dignity.
The term ‘The common good’ is used to describe a healthy balance, i.e. the rights of the individual as well as the rights of society.
Governments have a responsibility to find that balance. The vulnerable and society need to be protected from selfish acts that endanger people. How I drive, treat communicative diseases, social behaviour, etc. affects not only me but also others.
For Christians, constant meditation on loving our neighbour as ourselves, and on what it means, is non-negotiable.