This week I dropped a card through the letter box of an older neighbour whom I hadn’t seen out on the street for a few weeks.
She phoned me almost straight away and explained she has been self-isolating for the past 3 weeks. When I asked how she was, she said she was overwhelmed with the amount of contact she has had; people phoning and dropping off notes and letters, delivering groceries to her doorstep. She may not have been outside for three weeks, but she is well and truly connected.
There is a reason humans live in groups, work in groups, travel in groups. We are social animals. Indeed, our ability to collaborate is credited as the reason we have been able to dominate every species and environment we have ever encountered (for better and for worse). Our very DNA tells us we cannot get through this crisis alone; not as individuals, organisations or countries.
In fact, my view is that we have to connect and collaborate more than ever before. For right now we face a collective challenge that the rich can’t buy their way out of, that we can’t close our borders to, that we can’t insure ourselves against or go to war with (whatever our more hubristic leaders might say).
We must find new ways to connect; ways that keep us physically apart (for now) but harness the power of our collective energy, intelligence, humour and compassion – our very humanity. Perhaps some of these new ways will be better? Better for the planet and more inclusive; perhaps they will enable us to overcome barriers of space, time and differences that have for so long seemed immutable? Perhaps I will talk more with my neighbors, find new ways collaborate with my colleagues and care for my community.
This language of ‘social isolation’ amplifies many of our deepest fears. So how about we find another way to talk about what we need to do? A way that acknowledges the connections we need and the connections we seek, in order to overcome this crisis and leave humanity all the stronger for it?
So, who wants to start us off? What better phrases, terms, ideas do you have to describe what we need to do – as maybe together, we can find the right words?