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In Response to "Social Distancing"

Image from: Pexels,

Physical distancing can deepen social closeness with mindful effort.

What we need now more than ever is social balance.

For years, social media has already gotten us grappling with the terms “social” and “distance.” Below, john a. powell hits it on the head in his response to COVID-19 and terms social distancing and social isolation.

"Message from Director john a. powell regarding the COVID-19 crisis:

'The response to this crisis can easily slip into two opposing narratives. The first narrative is of a deep othering, and the second, of belonging. I am concerned about the language around the calls for social distancing and/or social isolation. There is certainly a public health need for physical distance. But this is not the same as social isolation. What is needed is social solidarity along with spatial separation. There have been more than a few stories stating that isolation comes with a different set of costs.The current situation also underlines the interconnectedness between all of us and our planet. It reveals, as we have been trying to show for many years, that when one person suffers, we all experience the effects of that suffering. We do belong to each other and to the earth. Now more than ever we see how it is in everyone's best interest, including those who are more privileged, to ensure the well-being of all. Our collective health is only as strong as the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.'

In these times, do not allow COVID-19 to fill you with fear; do not succumb to prejudice; and, please, do not isolate yourself through the practice of can result in the perpetuation of the -isms of our past.

Social distancing can be an oppressive act if driven by fear and hate. Certain racial groups or persons already experiencing marginalization know this all too well already. When you are physically around distancing only means:

Smile instead of shaking hands

Nod in your attempt to understand

Cover your mouth when you cough

Wash your hands properly

Give people space

Practice healthy boundaries AND Respect one another

Think of this as driver’s training...give it two car lengths.

It isn’t personal it’s proximity.

And don’t be a racist, please.

Don’t misinterpret “social distancing” as an excuse to isolate your compassion from another’s experience, practice, culture, or beliefs.

We are in this together.

Read the full message from Director john a. powell:

Jonathan Farrell is a current 2nd year MSW candidate at CSUDH. He is also a Summer 2019 Fellow of the Othering and Belonging Institute held at UC Berkeley

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