Do you ever avoid anything that causes you to feel uncomfortable? Of course you do. We all do.
Well, I hate to break it you, like social distancing, love itself can sometimes feel uncomfortable. It is more than a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Love others anyway, whether it makes you feel good or not, starting with social distancing.
Social Distancing While Running
For fitness and goal setting, I like to run long distance. Even during this current pandemic, with its enforced isolation, I still make time to get out and put in some kilometres. And, no, this is not against the national nor state restrictions! Sheesh.
Anyway, as I have been running lately, I have been watching how people manage social distancing while walking or running along my local paths.
What I have found especially interesting is my reaction to other people avoiding me. As I approach people coming toward me, some move aside to keep the required distance between us. Others have given me a wide berth, even stepping off the paved pathway to walk on the grass as I pass. In those instances I have felt offended. “What’s wrong with me that they should avoid me so?” I think to myself.
Then I remember the restrictions and understand they are actually protecting themselves and me by keeping their distance. Not to mention they are obeying the law, but that is to give their behaviour a negative taint. From a more positive perspective, it is actually altruistic for them to risk walking in water and mud, by stepping out on the grass, to keep us both from catching the virus from one another. In other words, to love can be uncomfortable.
Social Distancing Is an Uncomfortable but Easy Practice
There’s no denying the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic is making everybody uncomfortable. No one is benefiting from this, except maybe the face mask and hand sanitiser companies 😛
The practice of social distancing is one of the easiest and most effective preventative measures we can all adopt. To not practice social distancing is putting yourself and others in danger. There have been reports of bars across the U.S. filled with patrons actively bragging about not abiding by the enforced isolation. Here in Australia, backers in Bondi-area hostels were the most egregious example of those flouting the rules, in my opinion.
Not social distancing is dangerous because, it turns out, we can be infected with the virus yet not show any symptoms. Therefore, we can infect others without even knowing we are ourselves infected. This is not okay. People of all ages are getting infected, but most at-risk are those in the senior age brackets. While most runners and walkers on my local paths are younger, like myself, some are elderly trying their best to keep fit. I would hate to think I was the source of their infection and a possible cause of their pain, suffering, and even death.
An Act of Altruism
Jason Farley, a nurse practitioner for the Division of Infectious Diseases AIDS Service at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, told a Mashable journalist, “Social distancing is based on the principle of altruism. Treating everyone around you like it’s [sic] your 80-year-old grandmother is the circumstance we need to think about.”1
In that same article, Akiko Iwasaki, a professor of immunobiology at the Yale School of Medicine, noted, “Social distancing goes a long way to prevent the rapid spread of the virus.” Suzanne Willard, a global health expert at Rutgers School of Nursing, added her voice by agreeing, “Social distancing is one of the most effective tools.”
We would do everything we can to protect our loved ones, correct? Our family and our friends, maybe even our neighbours. Social distancing is uncomfortable. I am repeatedly unsure of how to greet a colleague or end a conversation, when a handshake would be normally appropriate. But, to not do such things, is an altruistic act, a sign of care and concern for those around me —in other words, love— whether I know them or not.
A great demonstration of altruism was reported by The Guardian. Apparently, more than 500,00 people volunteered to support the U.K’s National Health Service when the call to help vulnerable people was sent out by the government.2 These people are self-sacrificially putting their time and energy into supporting those told to remain in their homes during the crisis. According to the article’s author, “People can join the scheme in four different roles, including as a community response volunteer, which involves ‘collecting shopping, medication or other essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating, and delivering these supplies to their home’”.
To practice social distancing and support others unable to leave their homes during this crisis both makes one uncomfortable. On one hand, we are unable to practice the social niceties that have sustained interpersonal dynamics since forever; on the other, we are spending our time on mundane tasks on behalf of others. Love can be uncomfortable, for a variety of reasons, but these are both actions that show one’s care and concern for others.
I, for one, applaud those avoiding me as much as those giving up their time. May we all learn from their example. Love even when it is uncomfortable.