What is a lesson that can be learnt about the coronavirus episode?
However back to English, after Arrowe Park Hospital and surrounding buildings found itself subject to a lot of media scrutiny, it is time to write a follow up piece to the piece I published on Friday.
I’m sure at some future point the coronavirus issue will probably be used as a teaching point regarding both public relations and journalism but for now I am going to briefly relate a story from my past to try and make a point about deescalating matters.
Many, many years ago (but to me this is like yesterday) there was a big social event in the evening at the student union and all the student societies were asked if they wanted stalls. I was on one collecting signatures on petitions (I seem to remember the popular one was about scrapping tuition fees – the other about scrapping ID cards). Nearby was the stall for the student group for Amnesty International. The previous week (without trouble) that student group had been running a campaign regarding human rights in China which involved a display going into the details.
From memory Rosa Kurowska-Kyffin (who was my opposite number in that student group) had decided to take a break so wasn’t there manning that stall at the point this story begins.
The evening had been peaceful and everyone was having a good time and enjoying themselves. Nobody really expected anything to happen.
Someone came over to the stall I’ve just been referring to and was cross – to be honest I didn’t realise at the time what was going to happen. This was partly as things were happening in my peripheral vision but also it was in a very busy environment and my hearing ain’t too great at the best of times.
However the argument got very loud and very heated in a short space of time – the mutual friend (who was nearest to me) was trying to explain the campaign was regarding the human rights situation in China and not in any way against the Chinese people. The older man felt she was not respecting him or indeed listening to him (looking back partly a cultural faux pax) and accused her of racism.
It escalated pretty quickly – with the man yanking the display the campaign was on down which frightened her (she ended up in tears).
There was then that moment when suddenly everyone in the immediate vicinity turns round to see what is going on, is now aware of what’s happening and thanks to a lot of people in the room showing maturity, matters were deescalated by a fair amount of tactful intervention by multiple people (although you also get at these times a fair amount of people just gawping from a distance).
So, back to last Friday’s piece about the coronavirus.
This blog is not the place for a long piece on racism (perceived or otherwise) – or indeed that people should understand other cultures better – but it is a personal plea from me.
Do not allow matters to escalate!
I realise this whole leaving the EU is a difficult time for the UK and that people are scared and confused.
In my entire childhood here in the UK there was essentially a civil war going on over Northern Ireland – believe me that peace was very hard won.
I know it can be easy to lose your temper when you are angry, tired and/or upset. I know some are looking for someone to blame. I know some sadly now see racism as normal, acceptable behaviour – but I plead with you – don’t let things get worse than than they already are!
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