As our nation and our world continue to battle Covid-19, maybe battle is the wrong word, as we learn to survive in the world of Covid-19, there are terms that are becoming part of our everyday vocabulary.
Two of those terms are “social distancing” and “new normal.”
I’d like to propose that we practice verbal distancing from both of those terms.
I know that another name for social distancing is physical distancing and that is the term I am trying to use more and more. The reason for this is that why we need to maintain physical space to keep the virus from spreading, we should still seek every opportunity to engage socially.
In the very first book of the Bible and the second chapter we are told very directly,
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone. . . The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ge 2:18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Genesis 2:18 is most often referenced regarding the topic of marriage; but we can’t limit it to marriage otherwise when Paul instructs people later in the Bible to stay unmarried if they are able in 1st Corinthians 7 he would be counseling against God’s direct feeling. So while Genesis 2:18 fully encompasses the union of a man and a woman in marriage it also encompasses the need for humans to have social interaction with other humans.
For the vast majority of history, one would need to have physical proximity to another person to also have social proximity to them. This would have been the reality in 1918 during the great influenza pandemic. I have heard a lot of comparisons to that horrific pandemic in our world’s history. I think there are many dissimilarities with that pandemic and what we are facing now, but one of the key differences is that this is not 1918, it is 2020 and 2020 has a multitude of ways to socially engage while keeping physical distance.
So I want to encourage all of us to stop speaking of social distancing and instead practice physical distancing while drawing near socially.
I am back on Facebook in a limit format, for this very purpose, so I can draw nearer to our church members and others that may wish to engage in the midst of this crisis.
I am making more phone calls. I spoke to my dad for forty-five minutes on the phone two Sabbath’s ago. I have not talked on the phone to my dad for forty-five minutes at one time in the five years since I moved to Maryland.
We can text. We can FaceTime. We can email. We can send a card through snail mail. Rain, shine, or Covid-19 the United States Post Office still runs strong. This last Sabbath while our family was out on a walk some church members drove by, they pulled their car over and while we stayed on the sidewalk and they in their car we had a 30+ minute Sabbath afternoon conversation. Practice physical distancing but draw near socially to someone every day!
The second phrase the “new normal” I didn’t realize how much I dislike it until today. I was looking at the news and they had a clip of Hoda Kotb breaking down in tears on NBC’s Today Show. She had just interviewed Drew Brees, the quarterback of the New Orleans Saints who was sharing what he was doing to help Louisiana to fight Covid-19. When the interview ended and Hoda tried to speak she couldn’t . . . her voice broke and tears started to come. Savannah Guthrie her co-host who is in another studio, because they are practicing physical distancing (do you like how I didn’t say social distancing? :)) had to step in and read the tease into the next segment of the show. Later when Hoda had collected herself she said one aspect of her losing it, is that she looked around to hug someone, and no one is there, and then she said, “I guess that is part of it too. Our new normal and we’ll just get used to it.” And that is when I realized I don’t like the term “new normal” either.
I understand by actual definition “new normal” is acknowledging that it isn’t normal. But when Hoda said, “I’ll get used to it.” I thought, “NO!” Because we live in a world where “new normals” those things which seem odd because they have never been this way before. Those things which have never been accepted practices of society before and were previously considered odd or out of place are suddenly accepted, and people say, “I guess this is just the new normal.” And then one day they aren’t the “new normal” any longer, they are just “normal.”
Odd — > New Normal — > Normal
And getting comfortable with not having a friend to hug, should never become normal–so let’s not even think of getting used to this, “new normal.” Let’s just keep calling this physical distancing what it is = odd!