Invisible Enemies: Coronavirus and Other Hidden Threats
Journal of Bioethical Inquiry
Pages / Article-Number
COVID-19, virology; Capitalism; Coronavirus; Coronavirus Infections; Health Equity, ethics; Humanities; Humans; Mass Media; Metaphor; Morals; Pandemics; SARS-CoV-2; Social Media; Social Values
To say that coronavirus is highly visible is a massive understatement in terms of its omnipresence in our lives and media coverage concerning it, yet also clearly untrue in terms of the virus itself. COVID-19 is our invisible enemy, changing our lives radically without ever revealing itself directly. In this paper I explore its invisibility and how it relates to and exposes other invisible enemies we are and have been fighting, in many cases without even realizing. First, I analyse the virus itself and how its stealthy nature has transformed our lives. Second, I describe how the invisible epidemic of social media sharing of fake news about the virus worsens the situation further. Third, I explore how the virus has revealed to us what really matters in our lives and has forced us to re-evaluate our priorities. Fourth, I go on to explore the underlying structural weaknesses and disparities in society that have been exposed by the virus but previously remained unconsidered for so long that they too have become camouflaged, even if their effects are all too apparent; like the virus, neoliberal capitalism is an invisible enemy that has made prisoners of us all. I conclude by suggesting that the coronavirus pandemic represents a hidden opportunity to overcome perhaps the biggest invisible enemy of all: the moral distance that separates us from others. Only by rendering the rest of humanity morally visible to ourselves can we overcome capitalism and stop treating other people as invisible enemies.