Why Do We Hoard During Covid-19?

When we hoard, we're not thinking about others. But why is that a problem?

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There has become a global panic to rush to the nearest supermarket and buy toilet roll! Firstly, I don’t get why toilet roll of all things and not water! Wouldn’t water be the most essential item we need in order to survive? But it seems like on a massive scale, people have suddenly realized the need for anything that is related to cleaning their bodies so they have decided to buy all things on cleanliness.

Here in Hong Kong about a month ago, anti-bacterial hand gel, anti-bacterial hand wipes, masks and toilet rolls were out of stock. I found that funny to be honest. But as I stepped back, I realized how concern we became about our health that this was how we responded to the pandemic.

While all this was going on, for some reason, I didn’t really care. Not that I didn’t care about the pandemic as such or that I wasn’t concern about what was going on but I didn’t react to excessively shopping for supplies. I had enough and I trusted that it would all be okay. I didn’t know how and I didn’t know when but that was how I responded to the panic of shopping that everyone around me was in.

The question I kept thinking was, why do people feel the need to hoard? Why the need to excessively buy what are considered to be essential items? Well clearly, there is this fear that there won’t be any supplies left and then they’ll suffer. So to ensure they don’t, the need to get as much as possible for months on end was top on their list. 

What fascinated me was, when we all think this way, which is, let me get all that I can for several months so I’m okay, may seem like the right thing to do but surely there won’t be anything left on the shelves because we all are looking out for ourselves? If everyone goes out, shops for 10 bags of toilet rolls when normally you’d buy one, wouldn’t the stock run out in no time? And that is what happened not just here but globally because shockingly this was front-page news in many parts of the world!

We have become ego-centric, so self focused to the point that we aren’t thinking about the next person but our own livelihood which is no different perhaps to how we operated before coronavirus came. But with this pandemic, this attitude actually costs us. Being caught in the ‘me’ syndrome affects the ability for others to be protected when all the masks run out. Then what are people supposed to do when they don’t have any? When others aren’t protected with masks or hand sanitizers, aren’t we, the hoarders putting their lives and ours too at risk? When we are trapped in the individual need and forget that this pandemic is a global problem that it takes all of us to be healthy and safe, that all of us actually need the supplies just as much as the next person, then this bulk buying would stop.

The problem here is we are so caught up in our own little fear in our heads that we forget that Covid-19, isn’t just about my family or me. It is about everyone because it can spread and we need to make sure everyone is safe so the contagion is at bay.

I was listening to my spiritual teacher when he said, we need to step back and be more other-centric versus self-centric. When we see this from a bigger picture, then there is a shift in how we are looking at this pandemic.

The bigger picture is to see the good in the ugly. This pandemic is scary and we are afraid of what could happen. This fear cripples us and we can choose to be consumed by this fear (hence the excessive shopping) or we can choose to look at the good. Now, what good can there be in such an adversity?

There are countless benefits of this pandemic. One of it is, we’re given a chance to slow down and truly connect with our loved ones. If we’re reflecting, then it makes us look within and question if there is a need to be greedy and be self-consumed. Another positive is, we are given the opportunity to reflect on what we’ve taken for granted. The ability to go out whether it is to get a haircut or get our nails done, or to go to the pub and hang out with friends, or to travel to a new country etc. These are things we never stopped to wonder what if we couldn’t do these things at ease or at all? Many of us have the ability to do these things without much of a thought. The time we have now allows us to invest in ourselves. Take up new hobbies whether it is brushing up our culinary skills, learning a new language, finding ways to workout from home and the list goes on.

I’ve had the chance to cook healthier and wholesome vegan meals thanks to all the recipes out there on the Internet! I’ve also decluttered massively and reorganized my apartment, which I’m so pleased about. Connecting with my family and friends virtually has been truly heart warming. There are lots of positives if we look at the bigger picture. With everything in life, there is always and I mean always good with every bad. The choice is up to us if we’re looking hard enough.

We can make the most of this lock down because it is a great time to unwind, slow down and get to know ourselves. I hope besides seeing the good, we can also show more compassion to others by buying what we need and not shopping out of fear.

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