Civility In A Time Of Crisis

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While the extremes of “left” and “right” on the political spectrum may be promoting their own versions of the pandemic, those not firmly committed to one position or the other need to be able to talk to one another in a dignified, respectful manner. The “Shelter-in-Place” isolation means that there is a longing to connect with others, and making this “connecting” civil is essential if the isolation is to be compensated for my meaningful contact with others.

Social Connectedness In a World of Physical Separation

We are – even if we have hermit tendencies – social beings. We have varying degrees of need for contact, be it by mail, phone, Skype or some digital device, or in person. Being sequestered as many of us now are with our current pandemic world, we are rapidly learning how much person-to-person contact we crave and whether the forms of communication we have at our disposal are adequate to satisfy that need.

No longer in a culture with extended families close by, there are some

No longer in a culture with extended families close by, there are some nuclear families who are with each other, and we hear of others who hunker down with friends or relatives they have called in to share the time and space. But, the length of time originally anticipated has now been extended. This state of affairs may demand of us new coping skills and ways to connect with each other to stave off the increasing feelings of loneliness, isolation, and for some, claustrophobia and the desperate need to reach out.

So, here are some strategies you may not have considered. They all involve ways in which we can “virtually” come together via one of the many means we have available. Consider any of these to especially be in contact with elder and more isolated friends. And if you are alone, reach out.

  1. The most basic approach is to get to know or reach out your neighbors, saying “hi” and checking in at an appropriate social distance – through the windows, over the fence, across the street, when you are taking in some sun on a walk. Overcoming our normal shyness or reticence to engage others while out and about may lead you to discover new friends. In Italy, people sing birthday greetings and common songs to each other from their porches and balconies. No equipment necessary!
  2. Call friends and relatives. Make a daily or somewhat frequent “check-in” list. Think of having a number of people on the line at once. Most phones have speaker or conference capabilities.
  3. For more face-to-face encounters, I-phones have conference and Facetime capabilities. Google has Google Chat. Facetime has video chat. Then there are downloadable software for Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting. All of these platforms have been made simpler and simpler – and are FREE.
  4. Be inventive on your calls with loved ones. Obviously, their safety and health are top priorities. But once you get past these and the usual pleasantries, play an online game, read to little ones, or to each other. People are having sing-a-longs, virtual wine and dinner parties. We can plan on friends making the same dish and then us all sitting around on video, enjoying the same foods.

We are profoundly realizing how much we mean to each other. And, in such a time, we discover that what we have in common – the desire for contentment and security, our concern for our families and friends, the importance of love in our lives – may be a powerful incentive to heed the lessons on the importance of civil discourse and cooperative interaction for creating and re-creating our world.

Courtesy of Robert Sachs