Who could have imagined how our world and the way we interact with it would change so drastically in less than 2 weeks! In New Zealand we are on day 12 of the national lockdown. A pandemic is on our doorstep and we are having to make big changes so that we get through it with the fewest possible deaths. Social distancing is literally the law – but does that mean the end of our community? I would venture to say far from it – in some ways the enforced isolation is actually strengthening our local bonds. How marvellous that the human spirit, once again, finds a way.
I have noticed that people are responding to the Covid-19 lockdown with a renewed sense of caring for their neighbours. Suddenly we are forced to think about the basics – and those who may be struggling quickly come to mind. We offer to drop off shopping to the elderly on our street. Even the supermarkets are being sensible and prioritising home deliveries to those most in need. We wave at each other on our walks. We have been texting and phoning each other more often than normal – simply to see how we are doing.
As we get used to staying indoors, our local social activities are going online (with some technical challenges!) but instead of making us more distant they are connecting us in new ways. If you have ever been to a zoom yoga class you will know that you see all your fellow participants much more fully than when you simply drifted in, rolled out your mat and lay down. Now, we have a little chit chat before and after the class. We are becoming more visible to each other. Someone might ask after a regular who is missing from the group – is she ok? does anyone have her phone number? Then someone volunteers ‘I have her number I will call’. This is community and it is happening everywhere.
When enough becomes plenty
Added to the new connections is a general outpouring of kindness. Think of all the free online courses, seminars, art tutorials and activities for kids that are now available. You name it, there is someone out there contributing to the collective in the spirit of altruism. It’s astounding and beautiful. There is just no reason to be bored in this lockdown – as long as you have an Internet connection, there is no end of things to do.
These days people end their emails and texts with ‘Stay safe, stay well’ – how lovely is that!!? Perhaps this pandemic is teaching us how fragile we are; how much we need each other. And it’s also showing us how little we need ‘things’ to keep us happy. Recent data shows that even trips to the supermarket have halved. Perhaps this is the antidote to consumerism that has been a long time coming. We are going ‘cold turkey’ and maybe just maybe we won’t go back to our old habits. I did my ‘no spend’ month in January – and proved to myself I could do it. So if I am well, with food and shelter; if I am still connected to the people I love – then I have it all really.
So I say to you do not be fearful about where we will end up. Our human spirit cannot be destroyed. We will find ways to connect with each other – it is our very nature. We are in this together and together we will find a way through. Stay safe; stay well. Find peace.