Bridging the Enormous Social Gap That Stands Between Us Now

There is no way that we are going to spend the rest of our lives six feet apart from each other. That is no way to have dinner with friends, nor is it feasible for movie theaters or plays or concerts, all things that will return in the not-too-distant future. Being far apart from one another is also no way to have a meeting at work or with a client. The social distancing we are practicing now and for a little while longer would make for a terrible first date, let alone a future meeting with said first date’s family.

We are not meant to be separated from each other and from relationships. It is in our nature to be with each other. As much as we are individuals, we are, and always have been, part of the collective. We could no more disavow the collective as we could the individual.

Being quarantined is unnatural. Even though the social gap is necessary now, it feels like a punishment. You are not allowed to see your friends, nor are you allowed to congregate in places like restaurants, or churches, or your own home. We canceled Easter, and Abby’s birthday finds her collecting gifts by driving from house to house picking up things from the porch. No one is going to eat a piece of cake when someone blows out the candles right now.

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The tools we are using now are not capable of replacing human contact and connection. As useful as they are, they are a substitute used when it is difficult or impossible to meet face-to-face. They allow us to connect but without the same connection as when people come together in the same place at the same time.

Some speak about this “new normal” as if it is a good thing, that distancing ourselves from one another offers an improvement, an idea that should be rejected. There will be no need to organize resistance to the idea of our separation being a “new normal.” It is built into our nature. Let those who speak about this being a “new normal” share this idea with their robot girlfriends.

The idea that this is somehow the new normal is to believe that millions of years of human nature is capable of being erased and removed from our species and replaced by its opposite.

Who We Are

We are already separated more than is healthy. We allow the media and politics to divide us from each other. There are sometimes two teams where there should be one, something that threatens our success when faced with challenges like the one we are in the middle chapters of now.

While we are practicing social distancing, some of us are closing the distance between themselves and the real and present danger. In doing so, it shows us what we look like when we are at our best and how much we mean to each other, even when we are strangers.

You now see doctors and nurses running towards the danger to save the lives of others without any concern for their race, color, sex, creed, national origin, religious beliefs, or their politics. They are standing next to those infected, helping them fight the virus and regain their health. There is a capacity for compassion here that defies description or words but presents you with undeniable proof that we need each other. It also says something about our duty to help others, in this case, by not making matters worse for those in harm’s way.

Watching our military handle a disaster is to see the very definition of competency and efficiency. How you turn the Javits Center into a hospital in time measured in days is a miracle. Again, you see those of us who can make a difference for all of us, an example we should carry forward with us.

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Closer Together

When this crisis ends, it will have brought us closer together. It will not have pushed us further apart.

People are going hold each other’s hands on dates, and when they pray together (with much cleaner hands), sit next to each other when they eat meals at restaurants and stand in lines together as they enter movie theaters, concerts, plays, and church.

People are going to have face-to-face meetings, driving to those meetings together in cars, and flying to them on airplanes. We are going to stay in hotels in faraway places, and we are going to meet new people.

We are going to go to the park to play basketball, football, or run together, close enough that we can talk to each other, sharing our experiences, and enjoying each other’s company.

The longer we are apart, the more we long to be together. Our absence creates a desire and one that we are not capable of denying for long periods. When we are allowed, we are going to be closer, having an even greater appreciation for being in each other’s company.

This season is going to bring us closer together. It is in our nature to bring nature under our control. There is no chance that this virus, one like many we have already overcome, changes our behavior by separating us from each other. There is still no match for the human spirit, our audacity, our resourcefulness, and the ends that we will go to for each other.



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