April 7, 2020

A Note about Social Distancing

It’s easy to think of social distancing as an expression of “stranger danger.” But we already have that practice in many cultures, expressed in a variety of ways. What feels painful about social distancing is that we do not only distance between strangers.

We maintain social distance between coworkers, within public spaces, between friends, family members, and inside religious communities. These are the social contexts where we draw closest to each other; these are the social contexts where disease transmission occurs.

That’s why the practice of social distancing feels so painful. Yet we talk about disease transmission as something that sometimes occurs through “unknown vectors” – technically correct when there’s “community spread” of a disease – yet too easy to mistake as a form of stranger danger. In a fluid society like that of the United States, the sudden injection of this feeling into our daily lives causes pain, both economic and emotional.

I write about this because I do not want to confuse that pain with a desire to create strange-ness with others. I want to emerge from this crisis with an intact sense of trust and civic responsibility, because these are the feelings that enable us to rebuild and recover from this disease.

Content by © Jared Davis 2019-2020

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