If nothing else, the current COVID-19 epidemic represents an ironic contradiction.
As the New York Times put it: “We’re in this together. We’re in this alone.”
The Times also made the point that social distancing is an oxymoron. As the pandemic continues its rampage across the country, distancing curtails our instinctive need to socialize, our natural inclination to bond with others outside our families. Even our funerals must now be more isolated events.
But it’s important to remember that as we feel alone, we feel alone together. So we abide by warnings to stay apart, a concept so foreign to our nature it may as well suggest we build shelters in our basements.
It was Franklin Roosevelt who described “the warm courage of national unity.” And it was he who said this, in his 1933 inaugural address: “ … If we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline.”
The president asked that sacrifice of a nation starved physically and emotionally by the Depression. How can we not answer the same call now?
As you may have been reading in Sun newspapers these last few weeks, there are people in South Jersey who have been willing to sacrifice, who have stepped up – singly or collectively – to aid others and allow the rest of us to “distance” safely, who have helped parents and students navigate remote learning and delivered food to homebound senior citizens.
We’re in this alone. We’re in this together.
We have already gone through crises: the pandemic of 1918-’19, the years-long polio scourge, AIDS. And we have rallied, with the “warm courage of national unity” and an indomitable American spirit.
As the pandemic continues to isolate us, it’s important to reach out in safe ways: by phone, text, Facebook, etc., and remember that we distance for the greater good.
We’re in this together. But we do not have to be in it alone.