Children of Kampala, Uganda | Photo credit: AnjoKanFotografie

Everyone is a Potential Solution

“The bad news is that everyone is a potential victim / But the good news is that everyone is a potential solution.”
So begins a recent song from Ugandan reggae singer-turned-lawmaker Bobi Wine, who has spent years singing about urban poverty and injustice. The new song, “Corona Virus Alert,” comes as a sort of public service announcement that uses a catchy beat and uplifting rhythm to encourage listeners to wash their hands, keep a distance from each other and report serious symptoms that could be a sign of infection. The song has made waves, capturing headlines in NPR, Billboard, the Guardian and al Jazeera for its mix of exuberant tone and serious content.

Children in school, Kampala, Uganda Photo by: AnjoKanFotografie

But it is also a stirring reminder about the value of personal action. That’s especially meaningful during a period of pandemic, but it is also a broader lesson that can help inform our work to create a more fruitful planet. Just like every time we wash our hands and isolate ourselves at home, we are helping to reduce the risk of the virus spreading around the public, our daily actions can also play a role in creating a healthier global society. By positively interacting with our communities of people, animals and the environment, each individual has the power to help shape their society.
Similarly, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health released an equally catchy song about the importance of washing your hands and refraining from touching your face. Because it’s in Vietnamese, not English, the song may not necessarily find as large an audience in the US. But that may change due to the dancer Quang Đăng, who choreographed a quick dance to go along the with beat, mimicking aggressively washing his hands and putting on a face mask. The simple dance is easy to replicate and perfect for sharing on social media services like TikTok, the video-sharing app popular among teenagers. Ambitious dancers can even find tutorial videos teaching the dance, which themselves have garnered hundreds of thousands of views.
In the process, the dance is helping to teach people about hand hygiene and making sure that each time at the sink is productive and efficient. Like the Bobi Wine song, it is a reminder that every person has a role to play in stopping the spread of the coronavirus and creating a healthier world.
Policymakers will make policy and health care practitioners will focus on health. For those of us who are neither, it can be tempting to think that we are powerless in the face of the pandemic. But that is not true. And it also is not true that only dedicated conservationists or people with advanced degrees in environmental sciences are responsible for ensuring our collective global health. Instead, it falls on all of us to do our part.
So, wash your hands, keep your distance and help to stop the coronavirus. After that, try to engage with your local community. Pick up litter, care for animals and do not be intimidated about trying to get involved. Everyone is a potential solution. But more than that, the only real solution involves everyone.

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