September 2021

This pandemic sucks — the life out of us

To say it out loud — especially to my single friends: “it is not good” to be in a world full of “alone” people, left all to themselves.

In his 2000 book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, political scientist Robert Putnam noted a reduction all forms of in-person social interactions that enrich and underpin our social. Putnam argued that this undermines the “social capital” on which a strong democracy depends.

It’s gotten so much worse. This covid pandemic truly sucks, literally. It siphons off the vitality from life-sustaining, in-person communities. Social clubs, service organizations, civic groups, work associations, churches, and other faith communities. All have been eroded. Our society is fraying. Needing someone to blame, we vent anger and launch verbal missiles from politicized silos. We don’t converse face-to-face with one another. We tweet-bomb. Our interactions are reduced to 280 characters, memes, and slogans.

My wife and I are totally committed to personal and public health (we follow all protocols — masks, vaccines, the outdoor dining). But after almost 20 months of viral vulnerability and claustrophobia, the social isolation is suffocating to our souls.

All the delicious home cooked meals, projects, movie streaming, hobbies, indoor rowing, good books, or trivial posting on Facebook and Instagram can never compensate for the malaise. It’s not due to an unhealthy marriage (though sequestering does magnify our “issues”). We simply are starved for more time with family, friends, for short excursions, and retirement travel. But each option that presents itself requires another “benefits-risk” analysis. Even time with school aged grandchildren requires covid-tests.

God’s assessment of a primeval, pristine, unstained creation was, “It was good … it was goodfive times good even before there were humans. But creation became “very good” when God made royal image-bearers to build beautiful community on earth.

Nevertheless, “it was not good” for the image-bearers to stay alone: alone without a peer; alone without helpers. Without face-to-face “mirror image” bearers. Our emotional, social health requires much more than a good traditional marriage.

The Creator eternally exists in inter-Personal community. So God’s “let us make” created reflective vital communities on the earth. Not just couples; also what this pandemic has stolen from all of us: face-to-face, in-person, social vitality.

So, get vaccinated — and find creative ways to get connected!