People can and have withstood any catastrophe! However, there was one factor, our "miracle weapon" so to speak, how we did it: Through social interaction, togetherness and solidarity.
And that is exactly what is being broken right now. No matter how many songs about connection and togetherness there are on YouTube and how many zoom meetings we organize, this cannot replace a real contact.
Our body knows the difference
All the knowledge gathered so far tells us that something is happening that will leave deep wounds. Wounds that don't heal when the virus goes away. The longer this situation is maintained, the worse. What happens if one person always wants to keep a distance out of fear and the other deals with it completely differently and does not follow government regulations?
What about the thousands of people who are not allowed to see their families? What about those who have loved ones that need to go to the hospital and can't see, support, or shake hands?
What about the people who are not allowed to mourn together because they are not allowed to have funeral services? Here people suffer for years from not saying goodbye - but also from not being able to provide help during difficult hours.
What about kids who aren't allowed to play with other kids and learn it's better to stay away?
What is left when neighbors report other neighbors because they have visitors?
And then there are those who become depressed or even commit suicide because they have lost their livelihood - because their struggling business just broke down, or they no longer sleep because they fear it will soon happen.
And as much as we may doubt capitalism, most of us depend on wages to be paid by someone. And let's not kid ourselves, the entrepreneurs who will not survive are the "small business owners".
Live meetings cannot take place here either. Body-focused sessions are unthinkable at the moment and we don't know when this will change again. Body-focused sessions with a distance of 2 meters and a face mask would be pure cynicism. Body contact is not "systemically important".
One of the long-term consequences that is feared is a wider social divide.
There is a fear that one may become convinced that other people may be responsible for getting sick or even dying - this will turn one's fellow man into an enemy! This fear can already be seen on the street in many eyes. The mechanism of fear that is so profound right now is twofold:
- I get sick and can die
- I infect someone and am responsible for their deaths
It remains to be seen if these fears are really real. They are still very much in place and will continue to work for a long time even after the lockdown has ended or been relaxed.
It is likely that social phobias are currently on the rise or installed on a wider social basis. That will certainly have consequences for a long time to come.
This "new normal" of social distance must not remain!
A "new normal" will not make us stronger in the long run, but weaker. People will feel even less togetherness and connection and this will harm us psychologically - as individuals and as a society.
Nobody is an island. Please don't forget what normal interaction is. Remember, there is a face to smile and hands to touch. Use the time on the street - if it is allowed and possible - to re-establish contact with people by chatting, smiling at people. Let's make each other feel important and seen.
Life goes on. We now have to decide how to proceed.