OP-ED

It's essential to remind ourselves about the importance of community

By ROBERT HOUGHTALING
Posted 4/23/20

Social distancing has entered into our lexicon due to the recent Coronavirus pandemic. In an effort to avoid additional spread, schools have been closed, sporting events canceled, community events postponed and a slew of businesses

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OP-ED

It's essential to remind ourselves about the importance of community

Posted

Social distancing has entered into our lexicon due to the recent Coronavirus pandemic.

In an effort to avoid additional spread, schools have been closed, sporting events canceled, community events postponed and a slew of businesses have been forced to alter how they practice. While these necessary precautions are called for, the fact that they have to be enacted disrupts a significant portion of our lives. It also points to just how ‘social’ we human beings are. 

Aristotle once asserted that, “Man is by nature a social animal”. Even though the great Greek philosopher issued these words more than 2,300 years ago, they continue to apply today. We attend ballgames, go to religious services, enjoy family gatherings, chat in coffee shops, go out to eat with friends/associates, enjoy movies/plays and more. Not having these happenings in our lives is irritating. It also alters our social fabric. We are now being asked to sacrifice for a greater good. 

With all of this in mind let us hope that when we have finally addressed the Coronavirus challenge, a little reflection about how we relate with each other takes place. Face-to-face human interaction (inclusive of handshakes and hugs) is vital to the human condition. Higher angels are now calling us. By listening to them we will lay the foundation for a return to normalcy sometime soon. Our separation, although not welcomed, will certainly be remembered long years down the line.

On another scale, our over reliance on technology, has also impacted how we relate with each other. All too often, much of the interactions we have with others reside in cyberspace. On top of this, look at how folks message each other via tweets (sometimes in incredibly harmful or sarcastic ways). This crisis offers us an opportunity to change. We now might have a chance to take walks, eat dinners and watch TV together. There is a healthy balance.

I am confident that with time, guidance from others, and a number of sacrifices, we will come through the current epidemic. When we do it will be back to the ballgames, movies, community gatherings and school. When this occurs let us keep in mind just how important social interaction is. Sure, there is a time when social distancing is necessary, but the intent of such actions is to ensure that not too far down the line we will be back together again. Hopefully, the poem Family and Friends speaks to this.

FAMILY and FRIENDS

By Bob Houghtaling

Often while in springtime

With summer at the door

All seems in abundance

With promises of even more

But change forever constant

Presents it ups and downs

It’s important to remember

Those we have around

Chilling winds of autumn fare

Harsh moments they portend

Yet winter’s march is lighter

When with family and friends

For mankind at its nature

A Philosopher once extolled

Is a social animal

This truth we must behold

It’s essential to remind ourselves about the importance of community. The present challenge offers opportunities to strengthen our relationships with those close to us. At this time, being a good citizen is perhaps the best way of caring. Just a thought. 

Robert Houghtaling is the director of the East Greenwich Drug Program and a frequent contributor to these pages.

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