At the time of this writing, personal distancing is still very much the norm in our plague-battered society.
There is tentative talk about the easing of restrictions, rooted in the belief that the worst has passed and that we’ve already sacrificed too much in our reaction to the coronavirus.
But there are also calls for ongoing (and increasing) vigilance, built on the fear that as one wave of the pandemic passes, another will arrive… and perhaps this time even more devastating.
For now, though, we remain largely separated. And while the separation is physical, it need not be philosophical too.
Self-division is not new for us humans. We are known for separating into rival camps that compete for political and moral influence. We are conservative, or liberal, or religious, or humanist, or right, or left. There seems to be no end of divisions we can create.
There is a threat that coronavirus will add a few new categories to the list. Some of us could support a speedy return to normalcy, while others insist that normalcy is beyond our reach for now. We could press for tighter restrictions designed to keep us physically safe, or we could lobby for a reopening of the economy to keep us financially secure.
The danger, of course, is that we will let our philosophical differences poke holes in the lifeboat we share. We must take a conciliatory approach to charting a course back to normalcy.
One of the biggest challenges of this pandemic, as has often been noted, is that we are largely prevented from coming together, to work side-by-side to solve the problem. Physically we are separated, but thankfully, we still have tools for mass communication and public discourse. It has simply moved online.
We have seen an explosion of webinars, Zoom calls, and virtual hang-outs. We have been able to share confidences, negotiate deals, and conduct business online. If we cannot meet in the same room, we can still hear each other’s voices, and see each other’s faces as we seek a silver lining in all of this madness.
This fractured human race, with its tribal interests and contrived grievances, needs healthy engagement now more than ever. Many times in our shared past, as we have confronted adversity, we have responded with cooperation and kindness. We must not let the virus steal that from us.
Our associations have demonstrated remarkable leadership in opening avenues of expression. I encourage you all to find a way to share your comments and observations with the industry at large, so we move together through this crisis.
By the time you read this, the situation on the ground may have changed and the normalcy we crave may well have begun to return. If we bring new sensibilities to the workplace as a result of the pandemic, that will be a silver lining indeed.