in person, social intercourse is punctuated by greetings and conversations. Often those greetings are initiated by a
handshake or a hug. Successes in sports,
academics and other contexts are celebrated by a “high five.”
one government entity after another issuing shelter in place or stay at home
orders, our ability to engage in normal social intercourse has been
interrupted. We have been isolated from
one another for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most of the institutions through which we gather and
engage with one another have been closed for two to six weeks, but in reality, although
we do not want to hear it, those closures are until further notice.
Church buildings are closed, forcing the church to
I was at my own church this week assisting with
recording elements of our online worship services. I asked one of the pastors when he thought the
congregation would feel comfortable enough to return to a normal worship
gathering. We both thought that even
when the experts determine that it is safe to resume such gatherings, many will
still be hesitant to return to what we thought was normal social interaction
just a few short weeks ago…handshakes and hugs in the hallway as we greet one
Chris Queen wrote here yesterday that the 2020
college football season is in serious jeopardy…and that is still at least four
months from now. It is difficult to
imagine authorities wanting thousands of people to be sitting hip to hip and
shoulder to shoulder in crowded college football stadiums across the
country. I don’t know how we in the
South will adapt to a world without football in the Southeastern conference.
Schools and colleges are closed for the rest of the year, forcing students into online learning environments.
Movie theaters are closed. Release dates of new movies are being pushed
Concert venues are closed and performances have been
cancelled or postponed.
Skating rinks, bowling alleys and similar venues are
Even outdoor spaces like national parks (who ever
believed that you cannot adequately maintain social distancing in the 800
square mile area of the Great Smokey Mountain National Park?) and urban trails
People want to know when we can go back to work,
church and school. People are hanging on
to the hope that such a return will be sooner than later. But currently, we have no such assurances.
on ABC’s “This Week,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of
Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that it is possible it will
take “a few months” before life goes “back to normal” amid the coronavirus
Andrew Cuomo, was quoted in The
Guardian on Wednesday that he thought Americans would be living with the
consequences of the coronavirus pandemic for a long time to come. “I don’t
think we get back to normal,” Cuomo said. “I think we get to a new normal.”
He did not define what he thought the “new
normal” looks like.
Aristotle said long ago that
is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not
accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is
something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the
common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not
partake of society, is either a beast or a god.”
The Daily Mail reported on March 30 that according
to social scientists, “the coronavirus pandemic could spell the end of hugging
and handshakes for years to come.” How would Aristotle respond to that?
Being isolated from each other and society is not healthy. Being exposed to COVID-19 is presumably worse. For now, normal social interaction and COVID-19 cannot peacefully coexist. I wonder if we will be able to return to a time when hugs, handshakes and high fives are allowed again. I wonder when we will once again be comfortable engaging in normal social intercourse. Right now, it feels like it may never happen. Talk me off the ledge.