Human rights lessons of the pandemic

This week marked a grim milestone in the coronavirus pandemic as the worldwide death toll crossed the 175,000 mark, with more than 2.5 million people infected. Facing extended lockdowns and increasingly dire threats of a global financial meltdown, billions of people around the world are experiencing the effects of the pandemic up close and personal as a dominant feature their everyday lives.

Moments of crisis like this are unsettling. But they’re also clarifying. They lay bare truths that we have either forgotten or never fully internalized. Months from now, when the worst of the pandemic is past, there will be many “lessons-learned” exercises—evaluations of bureaucratic failures, emergency preparedness, and structural weaknesses in our health care system. But we don’t have to wait until this crisis is over to learn its most important lesson: “We are,” as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

This article was originally published in The Hill.