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同心抗疫 不要只顧指責

2021/1/22 — 19:01

香港正處於艱難時刻,相信大家都會認同這個說法。2019 新型冠狀病毒病彰顯了人性的光輝,同時也顯露了人性不善的一面。從過去一年的經驗,我們清楚可見抗疫全賴社會同心協力。戲劇化地說,這場疫症可謂是一場人性與病毒的對抗,類似電影中人類對抗外星生物的情節。

持續的疫情令人精神緊張,恐懼蔓延,疲乏至極,逐漸失去包容和同理心,但這卻正正是社會最需要包容和同理心的時候。病毒這個無形敵人令我們感到無助,很容易會把責備和憤怒的矛頭指向代罪羔羊。在國際層面,某些國家元首指責其他國家,利用上升的確診數字發動民眾的仇恨。至於香港,國內人士在疫情爆發初期成為眾矢之的,後來是跳舞群組人士和外籍家庭傭工遭到針對,及至近日矛頭則指向了油尖旺區的少數族裔群體。

我相信大多數人會同意香港市民普遍而言極為警覺,嚴守政府實施的社交隔離規定。大家都戴上口罩,經常消毒雙手,減少聚會,按照指示接受隔離和檢測,甚少有人故意無視防疫要求和違規。儘管全球確診個案激增,但香港市民的同心抗疫令本地個案數字保持於相對的低位。

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基於少數人不幸染疫,成為某群組的確診者,若將其污名化、標籤和指責整個階層或群體,這是不公平的。我們應謹記確診者只是一小撮人,將他們概括和以偏蓋全作一個大群體而論不單是錯誤,更是危險的誤導,這只會加深社會的鴻溝和加劇矛盾,對抗疫的工作毫無建設性的作用。這種概括性假設源自對某個群體缺乏了解,同時也是一種偏見和定型觀念。

傳媒不時會用概括性描述來凸顯少數族裔的不同之處。種族偏見、標籤、歧視和生活苦況都是有關少數族裔的報道的常見題材,以吸引受眾注意。可惜的是採用不同角度,以反擊這種描述的方法甚為罕見。事實上,香港社會不乏主流和少數群體互相扶持、彼此尊重和幫助的情況。

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正如在兩個月前發生油麻地的火災中,我們就看到不同群體之間的互助。這場大火奪去了八名本地尼泊爾人的性命,並造成多人受傷,平機會對死者家屬及其他受影響人士致以深切慰問。我與受影響的尼泊爾人交談時,得知他們不僅得到少數族裔群體的支援,不少其他族裔人士和華人也樂於幫助他們。從相關傳媒報道刊登的照片可見,有些香港人在事故地點燃點蠟燭和獻花。我相信他們大部分與死難者並不相識,只是出於基本人性和尊重生命到場致哀。這場悲劇後,我們看到憐憫之心、團結力量和同理心是無分種族的。

我希望更多報道會採用這種角度作剖析,把社會的眼光聚焦於不同群體之間的共通點而非彼此差異。我們都是香港人,對這個稱之為家的美麗城市抱着相類同的夢想、願望和期望,但這並非意味我們忽視社會的多元化。文化差異令社會更添姿彩,我們應該擁抱和欣賞這種文化,但要當心文化定型觀念,避免「一刀切」的看法。

香港現在最需要的是包容體諒、團結一致。病毒的傳播不分膚色,拆除種族壁壘,攜手抗疫才是明智之舉。


A time for empathy, not finger pointing

These are trying times to say the least.  We have seen it bring out the best in people and the not-so-nice. What is amply clear through our experience this past year is that beating the virus is a collective effort.  In more dramatic terms, this is humanity versus the virus, somewhat akin to the humans-versus-aliens story that we have seen played out on movie screens.

Nerves are frayed, fears are rife and fatigue is at an all-time high, making it a perfect climate for tolerance and empathy to be in short supply.  However, at no other time have we needed them more. Given the helplessness we all feel against this invisible foe, it is easy to pick scapegoats to blame and focus our anger on.  We have seen this on a global level with country heads playing the blame game against other countries, turning on people with every surge in cases. Back in Hong Kong, it has happened with mainland Chinese at the initial stages of COVID-19 to the recent targeting of the dance cluster members to foreign domestic workers and most recently the ethnic minority communities in the Yau Tsim Mong district.

I am sure most people will agree that our fellow citizens are in general being extremely vigilant and mindful of all the social distancing regulations that the government has put in place.  Masks are worn, hands are sanitized, gatherings are limited, quarantine is observed and tests are carried out as instructed.  Willful disregard of rules and practices are rare.  It is this collective behaviour that has helped keep the case numbers relatively low in the city despite the current surge.

Given this, it is unfair to stigmatise and blame a whole segment of society or community based on the behavior or rather misfortune of a few people who may become part of a cluster as we have seen periodically happen. What is important to bear in mind is that they form a small group of people and to generalise and extrapolate to a larger group is not only incorrect, it is in fact dangerous misinformation that serves no constructive purpose except to create social chasms and exacerbate divisions.  When the generalisation is based on a lack of understanding of a certain community, it reflects bias and stereotyping.

From time to time, reports pick up on this narrative to further the notion of ethnic minority alienation.  Racial bias, labelling, discrimination and hardship are common threads in most ethnic minority-related media stories that may garner audience attention.  It is sad that stories which go against this narrative are less or seldom written about. There are many cases that we know of and even more that we do not know of where the majority and minority respect, value and help each other in a mutually supportive relationship. 

In the same district two months ago, we saw evidence of this in the Yaumatei tragic fire that claimed the lives of eight members of our local Nepalese community and caused injuries to many more.  Our heart goes out to all the bereaved families and others affected by the accident.  When speaking with members of the Nepalese community, I was overwhelmed to hear of the support they had received from the people of Hong Kong, not just fellow ethnic minorities. The photograph that ran with related media stories showed Hong Kong people lighting candles and laying flowers at the scene of the fire.  I am willing to bet that many of them did not know the victims personally but were there out of basic human decency and respect for human life. The compassion, solidarity and empathy that we saw during the aftermath of this tragedy was colour-blind.

I would like more such reports to be highlighted.We should all be talking about what we share in common rather than focus on the differences. We are all Hong Kong people with shared dreams and aspirations as well as expectations for this beautiful city we call home. This does not mean we discount what makes us diverse. Cultural differences must be acknowledged and celebrated as they add richness to society. But beware of cultural stereotyping and broad brushing.

More than ever, we need tolerance, empathy and solidarity. This is a time for us to come together as one human race. The virus makes no distinction; it would be a folly for us to.

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