We May Be Social Distancing, But Community Is More Important Than Ever

The language of COVID-19 all centers on the self.

Social distancing.

Self-isolation.

Quarantine.

What do these terms have in common?

They are words that make us think about ourselves first, then others. They are words that make us turn inwards.

The people in positions of power choose these words carefully. They ramp up concern, fear, and panic. They use them with such frequency to protect us. They drive home the point that we need to minimize social contact and be prepared to hide in our homes for an indefinite period.

Unfortunately, it has also created an environment that has turned sour and is bordering on toxic. The virus, and the actions to combat it, are setting us against each other.

It’s turned into the Wild West out there, and it’s now every man and woman for themselves.

We’ve seen it all these last few weeks. Queues at 6 a.m. to get into supermarkets. Once there, shoppers perform record speed trolley dashes to grab as many items off the shelves as possible. People are buying 400 toilet paper rolls, 300 lbs of pasta, and 20 bottles of hand sanitizer. Who are the losers here? Those who find it difficult to get to the shops—the sick and the elderly. Home delivery, you say? That’s a six-week wait here in the UK. The panic has caused greed to set in, and it seems here to stay.

Then some take the opposite view and aren’t concerned at all. Many have decided to carry on and wait for it all to blow over. People were still packing nightclubs and pubs until they were told to close by the government. Elsewhere, spring breakers are still determined to drink till the doors close. Some are saying, “I’m gonna get it anyway,” while others claim they “won’t get that sick”. Perhaps, but your parents and certainly your grandparents will. What about your friend with poor health? Or your niece with asthma?

This behavior is nothing short of selfish. It’s people thinking small and thinking about themselves. The decisions you make during this time could have a detrimental effect on the life of someone else — literally life or death. Consider that the next time you buy that extra toilet roll or go to the local pub because you’re bored.

I understand the current situation is demanding that we self-isolate and that we must prepare for the worst.

I agree that we should follow the given advice. I have done so myself. But it’s also still vital we still think of others. Not just your family and friends,  but also your neighbors and your communities. This is not a time to throw away our societal values. Life as we know it may change for good, because these measures, though extreme, could be here for the foreseeable future. If we turn our backs on each other forever, that’s a dark path that we can’t come back from.

We have to adapt to what’s going on around us together.

Things are getting crazy out there, but don’t lose yourself in it.

Remain calm, vigilant, and most importantly, considerate of others.

How Can You Support Your Community?

Take a minute to leave your neighbor your phone number in case they need help or support.

Run out and get them groceries if they can’t manage.

Regularly check in with people over the phone, even if it’s just to make sure they have someone to talk to. Your voice might just brighten up their day.

Send support through a postcard campaign.

Check in with local community councils and action groups to see how you can help in your area.

Be responsible with what you are doing, where you are going, and what you are buying. Remember that there’s a limited supply of essentials going around, so take a second to think about the needs of others. Many need it far more than you.

During these testing times, we must balance the language of COVID-19, because it all focuses on the self. The reality is, you’re not the only one caught up in this.

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