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When we keep our distance from people, we are continually reminded that the world is less safe than ever. Other people potentially endanger our lives; after all, whom do we believe when we read the data about which people endanger us and who is most vulnerable? Ultimately our fear will move us to protecting ourselves by accepting the tyranny of the State. Let me explain:
When we social distance, we are intentionally separating ourselves from others. We limit our exposure to large groups: weddings are limited in size or are broadcast on zoom; funerals leave us vulnerable to exposure; going to church has become a hassle as people try to keep their distance from each other; even small family gatherings could be dangerous.
Many things emerge when we limit our physical time with others, even for those who are introverts. We adjust to being alone. Going out to be with others is an inconvenience; it’s easier just to hunker down and keep our own company. Moments shared with others occur more and more often by email, text or over the phone. Or are just dropped completely.
The novelty and convenience of working at home contributes to the weakening of interpersonal relationships.
Over time our isolation, which seemed troublesome at first, becomes familiar, even comfortable.
At the same time relationships become more superficial, simply because they aren’t nurtured. We hear of other people who don’t take government limitations to “protect us” seriously. We wonder if we can trust those people, if they care about the welfare of others, if we want to maintain a relationship with them. After all, relationships are an investment of time, energy, and commitment. They require us to be open and vulnerable; who wants to be in that position in these fragile times?
So, who or what can we turn to? The State?
The State is the entity that is working on treatments for the virus, and vaccines, too. The State is watching out for us, calling for people to report on others who are violating the rules. Shaming, blaming and criticism are encouraged to bring people in line. At various times, mayors and governors have re-established lockdowns to “protect the public.” Teachers, unions, government officials and parents are locked in battles regarding the re-opening of schools. Eventually, someone will need to step in for a variety of situations to establish order, peace and consistency.
The State will be happy to comply.
For those people who think this scenario won’t happen, keep these factors in mind:
- Relationships among people will continue to fracture; trust will decline.
- Conflicting agendas among groups will create more dissension because underneath the conflicts are their fears about living and dying.
- Power struggles will intensify.
- People will look for someone or something to bring order to the chaos.
Out of desperation for some level of stability, the people will welcome the State’s issuing rules, regulations, and laws.
We will be free from the chaos, but little else.Published in