HOW THE PANDEMIC AFFECTS HUMAN NATURE
by Bob Branco
Before I discuss my topic, let me just say that I understand the severity of the coronavirus. During this pandemic, I’d like to think that I have enough common sense to do all the right things in order to protect myself, my wife, and everyone else.
We’ve all heard the same instructions repeatedly for over three months, as if we were children. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Use hand sanitizer as much as possible. Stay home. Practice social distancing. Etc.
As far as social distancing is concerned, I do not like the term at all. Although I understand what it means and why we should do it, the term implies limitations on how we socialize. This may affect some of us spiritually and emotionally. Humans need personal interaction in order to thrive. I would rather say physical distancing, safe distancing, or healthy distancing. After all, we can still socialize if we’re six feet apart from each other. Another term that bothers me is “new normal.” If something is new, it’s not normal, yet. I prefer the old normal, thank you very much.
Throughout this pandemic, I have always felt that many of the new regulations are very inconsistent. As a result, many people are not taking them seriously. In other words, it’s okay to do it here, but not over there. You can do it during the day, but not at night. You can do it outside, but not inside. You can do it on a golf course, but not at a basketball court. You can shop in store X, but not in store Y.
The governor of Rhode Island is very upset because beaches were crowded last weekend. People were out in large masses, with little or no physical distancing. Personally, I don’t think this was an act of rebellion or civil disobedience. I think it’s all about being human. Let’s face it. Since the beginning of the pandemic, government officials have asked us not to practice much in the way of humanity. We are not supposed to socialize normally. We are not supposed to hug or shake hands. We are not supposed to hold large parties in honor of our loved ones. For the most part, we cannot visit the sick in a nursing home when they need us the most. These activities were taught at a young age because they are acts of kindness and affection. This is a part of being human, and it remains with us forever. Therefore, how can the existence of a pandemic take that away from us?
I run weekly coronavirus support group meetings on a conference line, and one of the biggest problems that people have is the inability to practice a lot of human kindness because of a government regulation. It doesn’t matter how important the regulation is. It’s so sad to hear people tell me that they can’t hug anybody. You can hear the anguish in their voices when they describe how it feels. I can imagine that it feels quite empty and lonely. Years ago, I heard a psychiatric report recommending that we hug one another five times a day. I guess the pandemic is interfering with what’s best for us psychologically. Can you imagine if the governor walked into your home and asked you to distance yourself from your partner or spouse?
For now, we all must put up with the terms social distancing and new normal while we battle against the coronavirus. To me, it’s a battle between the virus and forms of humanity. We all hope that humanity wins out.