We should consider the words with which we have abided to some degree for the past few months. Chief among them is social distancing. What does that mean?
Some would say that physical distancing would be more accurate for we are social creatures and surely, we are not to be disconnected from each other, are we? Are we? We just need to spread out more, right?
I propose a new term: human distancing. That’s what we have been asked to do, put distance between humans. We are now defined as carriers of contagion. People have been through thousands of years and countless diseases and contagions without having to live their lives at double-arms interval.
The guidelines that emerged this year are dehumanizing and we accepted them. The other extreme of dehumanizing is packing people in like cattle such as in a crowded subway car. There should be some sane limits applied, but not to the extent of having to look at every person like they had the cooties.
The discussion and arguments about which lives matter rage once again. Black Lives, Blue Lives, All Lives seem to have taken center stage at some point in this unique year. Always left voiceless in the background are those yet to be born but still thriving in their mother’s womb until they are not.
We paused momentarily to recognize those working the front-line medical services, but did we realize that we were being conditioned to dehumanize each other?
As we divided and subdivided which lives mattered, still at work was the model that no lives mattered. Life and lives existed for the manipulation of the few seeking to seize or retain power, many of these not being elected officials. Life in the aggregate had become a commodity to be bartered.
Social distancing was proof that fear was a powerful tool. Suddenly, we were afraid of each other. Mass manipulation was not only possible but easier than anyone would have thought in a land formed out of independent will and pioneer spirit.
So now the discussion is moving towards how do we get back to work and to school. I say let’s do it without using the term social distancing. If we are going to separate people by distance, we should be required to use the dehumanizing term, human distancing. Let’s remind ourselves that we are treating ourselves as carriers of contagion instead of creatures made in the image of God.
Should we wash our hands more? Absolutely. Should we stay at home when we are sick? Yes! That goes for keeping your kids at home when they are sick as well. Should we keep an abundant supply of hand sanitizer? Why not, and maybe some moisturizing lotion for when our skin begins to crack.
And yes, even you teachers and supervisors need to stay at home when you are sick. The world will survive without you for a couple days.
There may be some work-at-home models that continue because they were good for both employee and employer and not because they saved the world from a mostly impotent contagion, at least as far as things declared to be plagues go. There may be some adjustments to sick leave policy for working parents with sick children. The employee who produces a great return for his employer will be worth this perk.
Let’s kick social distancing to the curb. Let’s not accept its first cousin physical distancing as a fill-in. Let’s use the term human distancing so we are reminded that what we are doing is dehumanizing.
People use the term New Normal a lot these days. If the New Normal does not improve the quality of human life, I say let’s kick it to the curb.
Let’s not lose our humanity in this façade presented to save humanity.
If you are sick then stay home.
If you are vulnerable, then be on the lookout for where you are at risk.
If you are ready to live life to the full, then don’t let the propaganda hold you back.
You, we, are more than carriers of contagion, and our humanity matters.