The Value of Diversity and Solidarity in Tackling The Coronavirus Crisis – Zheng Ma

Time goes so fast that the period of serving as an interfaith fellow is nearly coming to an end. Due to the spread of coronavirus, our activities have been severely interrupted: the final project had to be postponed and our discussions have had to be held online, something I never anticipated before. My life has also been hugely affected because of the increasingly worse situation caused by the virus. Besides threats to public health, I have recently seen some incidents of bias targeted at Asian and especially Chinese students; I think this is worth talking about in this blog post since our center is deeply concerned with diversity and equality, one key reason why I am honored to be part of it.

Recently, some irrational, anti-Chinese graffiti appeared on our campus, and one particular awful message said, “It’s from China #CHINESEVIRUS.” This message really hurt the feelings of Chinese people here. In fact, since the outbreak of the virus, Chinese people have made great sacrifices to fight against this global crisis, not to mention that the origin of coronavirus is still unclear and complicated (see COVID-19: Genetic network analysis provides ‘snapshot’ of pandemic origins). Regardless, I think it is pointless to focus on the origin because it only politicizes something scientific and apolitical, a very dangerous trend happening in the US that I am very worried about. Just like officials in the WHO have said, politicizing the virus only creates conflict, and international cooperation is very important in this time to overcome the crisis.

Solidarity is also invaluable at the domestic level. In order to overcome this unprecedented crisis, society should stay stable and all people, regardless of their race, religion, and experiences should unite together. I always assumed that the spirit of solidarity and respect for diversity were inherent to American values. Though xenophobia and racism are also part of its history, the clear self-awareness of this country has helped it learn from those mistakes and further advance the cause of justice (imperfectly). However, recent incidents make me worry about the loss of American values. I believe the emphasis on diversity and solidarity is one of the greatest traditions of the United States, contributing to its prosperity in the past two hundred years; such a wonderful tradition should not be discarded. As long as the spirit of solidarity remains strong, I believe the virus will certainly be defeated. 

As one of the official school organizations whose goal is to guard diversity and cultivate world citizenship, I think the CRGC (and this fellowship I am honored to belong to) should actively promote the spirit of solidarity on campus. In the center, I feel that everyone is respected by others regardless of the differences in religion, nationality, and race. During the meeting of our center, fellows freely express their unique perspectives while respecting and appreciating other perspectives. It is a place where differences are valued and therefore American values are strongly embodied. As a result, our center could play an important role in helping the university guard the traditional values in this particular time, perhaps by publishing articles and holding virtual seminars to promote those on campus. I believe our university, as a great university with a long history of respecting diversity and embracing empathy, could serve as a role model for successfully dealing with this crisis of traditional American values.