Together Apart?

Susan Mutch

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Physical Distancing: This is what humankind has been practicing for about six millennia. When flu season or other pandemics come around, the elderly and those otherwise physically compromised, voluntarily and wisely distance themselves from those who are contagiously ill. I call this common sense. Let us continue the practice!

Social Distancing: This has become the COVID-19 watchword–six feet apart, everybody! Stay in your own houses; no more than 5 in a group! But this term was foreign to our vernacular prior to this pandemic. This is not the voluntary physical distancing that we have known and understood. It is a government-mandated distancing, which is both physical and social.

One may ask, “How can the powers-that-be convince the populace to self-isolate?” The answer? Simply by convincing them that it is for the greater good of society.

A Stanford University professor of psychology recently stated that “we should cut it out with all the talk about social distancing.” Perceiving the negative stigma, he encouraged instead the term “physical distancing” while everybody “remains socially connected even while being apart” during COVID-19, for he realizes that it “pushes against human beings’ fundamental need for connection with one another.”

Socially connected while being apart. Interesting concept. Connected while apart. Together apart? “Virtually” connected? “Virtually” together? What is going on? We humans don’t really know how to do that! The social destruction resulting from the world-wide web is proof. Introduced with the promise to enable people to connect, it has caused the social distancing of the masses. Cyber life, with its virtual friends and relationships, have left human beings empty, lonely, and depressed. Suicide rates have skyrocketed.

Young adults with high social media use feel more socially isolated than those with lower media use.

Society is in a mess and people are hurting from their isolation. The signs saying, “Remember, you are not alone,” are but salt in the wound to them. Truly, it is not good for man to be alone.

And further, while the term social distancing is new to us, the unfortunate fact is that man actually has been distancing himself socially from his fellow man long before what we now know as social distancing. In the words of Bro. Stephen Hargrave, this has been done via separating “by class, and caste systems based on things such as money, occupation, skin color, language, and religion.

“Government is by no means excluded–Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, the moderate, the left, the right, the black, the white.

“Why do we, the human family, have to be distant? Why are we divided? Are we allowing labels, trigger words, and phrases to build up border walls between us until we are so distant from each other that we can’t even do so much as come together to have a civil conversation?

“Moving forward–and we will move forward–will we allow ourselves to continue to live in a segregated society with an overshadowing fear to sit together, talk or eat together? Don’t we all have mutual joys, sorrows, and pain? Doesn’t everyone enjoy good food and laughter with family and friends. We all know what it is to love, to laugh, to weep, to grieve. We are social beings. We are all one human family–ALL, and we need each other!”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “As nations and individuals, we are interdependent…We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. What affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.”

To divide and isolate a people is to weaken them. Strength is in unity.

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