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Words have meaning. Should we “socially distance” ourselves from others? Last Friday, March 20, Wil Addison joined Alexander Hamilton III on his radio show and podcast, The Hamilton Corner. He was on to discuss maintaining a Christian witness in the time of the Chinese coronavirus. One comment, in particular, caught my ear.
Wil Addison said that we are using the wrong word. We should not be putting social distance between ourselves. Instead, we should be maintaining a physical distance. Indeed, if you listen closely to the recommendations, you are being advised to maintain six feet of separation, to engage in or refrain from physical acts. So, we should absolutely be protecting each other with physical distancing.
At the same time, we know that isolation and loneliness are bad for our health, that humans are social beings. From the Creator saying it was not good for the first man to be alone, to Saint Paul urging the early Church not to neglect gathering together, the most ancient wisdom points to individuals’ need for a relationship with other humans. So, we should not use the occasion of government urging or commanding physical distancing and isolation as a rationale for retreating into a virtual bubble. Oh, Amazon, Google, Apple, and Disney are all prepared to keep you distracted with compelling content for the rest of the decade. However, their leaders, if pressed, would acknowledge the importance of real human relations.
For myself, I will try to exercise physical distancing, while maintaining social connections.Published in