In times of disease and disaster, crisis and chaos, trauma and turmoil, time and time again, we come together and support each other. We have been lead to believe that it is the best of us; the exception to the selfishness and disconnection that pervades our daily lives. But what is true is that this is who we really are. We are wired to live in interdependent networks of people based on mutual support and compassion. That is because, for ninety-nine percent of the time we have existed on this earth, we lived as nomadic hunter-gatherers and that interdependence is why we survived.
So in a time of pandemic, of disruption in our lives, we are given an opportunity, a space, that allows us to engage in the behaviors that truly make us human; empathy, compassion, connection and commonality. When we feel out of control, we reach for others. When we see and hear about suffering our humanness compels us to act with compassion and we know, implicitly, that people of different races, ethnic groups, ages, and socioeconomic levels feel just as we do. We know that we are all in this together.
At this time, when our humanness compels us to reach for each other, we are challenged to be in isolation. We are removed from personal relationships, interactions and participation in groups and institutions. And all of this reminds us, at our core, that this distance and isolation is not optimal. It is not really us. We can fully understand why Decades of research shows that social connection is a fundamental human need linked to both psychological and physical health including a stronger immune system, faster recovery from disease and even longevity.
So as we reconnect with the few around us, and long for the connection with our community and our desire to support others, let’s hope we do not forget that the longing we feel right now, what has been lost in this distance, will compel us to be a more human version of ourselves when we are all reunited.