“… we need multilateralism in a globalized world. Rather than resorting to thinly veiled racism and isolationist policies.” 

This is March 6, 2020 speech by the former prime minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, who currently is the President of the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York. 

(The whole speech is available at https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/coronavirus-nationalist-response-fails-by-kevin-rudd-2020-03)

“NEW YORK – I was recently walking along East 29th Street in Manhattan, after visiting a friend at Bellevue Hospital, when I was roused from my thoughts by a middle-aged white male screaming at an old Chinese man, “Get the fuck out of my country, you piece of Chinese shit!” The old man was stunned. So was I, before I bellowed back (deploying the full range of my native Australian vocabulary), “Fuck off and leave him alone, you white racist piece of shit!”

The pedestrian traffic stopped. A young white guy with dark hair came storming toward me. As a non-pugilist by instinct and training, I braced for what was coming. He stopped just short of me and said, “Thank you for standing up for him. That’s why I fought in Iraq; so that people like him could be free.”

Leaving aside the troubled history of the Iraq War, COVID-19 is a stark reminder that global pandemics, like climate change, do not respect political borders. China’s experience with the virus in January and February is likely to be repeated in much of the rest of the world in March and April. There will be variations on the numbers of infections, depending on imponderable factors such as the temperature, the relative robustness of public-health testing and treatment systems, and differing levels of financial and economic resilience. We should be preparing intelligently for these contingencies, not succumbing to irrational panic – let alone pandering to racist stereotypes.” … …

This is the reason the title of my blogging site is “Living in a World without Gaps”. That political borders among neighboring countries do not show any physical gaps in anywhere except for the dividers in different shapes, such as stones, or barbwires, walls made by people or rivers or mountains given by mother nature. None of them show as gaps.

However, the radical nationalism and racism are trying to create the gaps among people. And it would be the biggest tragedy if it happens to be the political leaders, or the social leaders, who act as the creators of the gaps to push this hostility further.

Kevin Rudd emphasizes that “it has been stunning to witness the general absence of solidarity, empathy, and compassion for the Chinese people, particularly those in Wuhan, who have stoically endured a living hell. How would (or will) Manhattan, London, Sydney, Toronto, Berlin, Paris, or Delhi fare under the same circumstances? Indifference to the suffering of others gets us absolutely nowhere in marshalling an effective global response to what is demonstrably a global crisis.”

As Jack Ma said, by quoting a slogan popularized by one of the US founding fathersBenjamin Franklin: “United we stand, divided we fall.” when he decided to donate 500,000 coronavirus testing kits and one million face masks to the United States on March 14 after his donations to many other countries, Japan on March 2, Iran on March 6 and European countries like Belgium first and then Spain and Italy. “Drawing from my own country’s experience, speedy and accurate testing and adequate personal protective equipment for medical professionals are most effective in preventing the spread of the virus,” Jack Ma said in a statement. “We hope that our donation can help Americans fight against the pandemic!” (according to CNN Business News, https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/14/tech/jack-ma-face-masks-us-donation/index.html)

Hopefully this CoVid-19 pandemic is more an opportunity for us to stand tight together than a ditch we all fall into. Any life is too precious to lose. If it has to take this many lives to bring the awareness of globalism, we have to keep reminding ourselves not to forget them and sharpen our alertness against any new radical nationalism and racism to stick out its head again and dig more gaps among us.