“What if everything we’ve been told about human nature is wrong, and we’re actually very generous, communitarian, altruistic beings who are distorted by the system we’re in but not made happy by it?” Rebecca Solnit
Humans crave connection. We work together in community to create what we hope is a better world. When faced with adversity, we pull together to keep the community going. When we are deprived of that connection, we can feel isolated and confused. What we face now, is an enemy that is global in nature, and this is new. We see both the terror of people who are forced to die alone coupled with the beautiful actions that many perform for their neighbors. Fortunately, there are many opportunities for us to both keep connections and to make new ones.
In her 2016 interview with Krista Tippet, Rebecca Solnit talks about the connection that occurs in the wake of a natural disaster. “It’s as though in some violent gift you’ve been given a kind of spiritual awakening where you’re close to mortality in a way that makes you feel more alive; you’re deeply in the present and can let go of past and future and your personal narrative, in some ways. You have shared an experience with everyone around you, and you often find very direct, but also metaphysical senses of connection to the people you suddenly have something in common with.” While many of us have experienced this sensation after a natural disaster, the nature of COVID-19 pandemic makes it difficult to make connections since we need to stay away from one another. But humans are wily creatures and often find a way. We are fortunate to live in the age of the internet and most are able to stay connected through FaceTime, Skype, or other platforms. Many are wondering what they can do to help as they follow the stay at home orders. The large number of people making masks is just one example of the intensity with which people want to help.
What kind of creativity and connection is going on in your area? Like many other places, our neighborhood has embraced the teddy bear hunt. If you are not familiar with it, the idea is to help kids break up the monotony of the daily walk by finding houses in the neighborhood that have put a stuffed animal or two in the window. They can take pictures of them and share them digitally with friends in different neighborhoods. We have also begun building totems to ward off COVID-19. On Friday, those of us who garden are holding a properly socially distanced plant swap. In terms of community support, we have donated to a group that is purchasing meals and snacks for the COVID-19 team and UNC Hospital.
If you would like to share what is going on in your area, feel free to leave a comment. I look forward to seeing what creative ideas others have developed.