Good Samaritans

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Good Samaritans

The author is the head of the industry 2 team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

I sought out face masks at the onset of the spread of the new Covid-19 coronavirus since my profession requires frequent contacts with people. Since I am the only one in my family who goes out regularly, the stock has been more than enough.

A KF94 protection mask that used to cost 1,500 won ($1.20) was selling for over 5,000 won before the government imposed a purchase and rationing policy on masks to make them equally available. Even those masks eventually became rare. After the government’s crackdown on hoarding, supplies returned to online retailers with slightly lower prices.

But I found that the masks I had purchased were for children. Since they were not fit for a male adult, I gave 20 of them to my acquaintances.

But I do not plan to buy the public-rationed masks. I would happily give my share to elderly people who are not used to online shopping, sick people and children. I’d rather pay slightly more to buy the more expensive ones, wash my hands more often and wipe things down around me as much as possible.

The sharing or yielding campaign has gained momentum through social media. There are hashtags about surrendering face masks or using even cotton masks. More citizens are caring for their neighbors during tough times.

I ordered “The Moral Economy: Why Good Incentives Are No Substitute for Good Citizens,” the latest book by American economist Samuel Bowles. He claims that humans are naturally inclined to do good even without reward or punishment.

He also argues that policies that ignore the moral and generous side of human nature can “crowd out” ethical and generous motives and thus backfire.

Nurses who have put off marriages or rushed to Daegu to help out as soon as they got their licenses and neighbors leaving meals outside the doors of those who are in self-quarantine are all helping to build antibodies to make society stronger and healthier against any virus attack.

JoongAng Ilbo, March 13, Page 29
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