Letter: We must find ways to come together

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To the editor

There's much we still don't know about the coronavirus. But what we do know is already changing our lives here in the Berkshires in small and large ways. We're singing songs or counting to 20 as we wash our hands, scouring shelves for hand sanitizer, and stocking our pantries with canned goods, just in case. With the declaration by the city of Pittsfield of a state of emergency many folks I know are staying home. I sat amid a sea of empty tables at a popular local restaurant Saturday night.

We're living in a paradox. We're told to avoid large gatherings and stay six feet away from one another. Yet when people are frightened, what we need most is each other. Humans do better with connection. We rely on our relationships with others to keep us safe and healthy.

But 50 percent of our country's adult population now lives alone. Without consistent healthy connections to others, people tend to neglect their own health and hygiene. They show increased incidence of depression, addiction, and suicide. Some statistics show that loneliness is more detrimental than obesity or smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

Those who live alone can easily fall through the cracks. They may go days without hearing another's voice. During these weeks when we're all likely to feel more frightened and vulnerable, reaching out in simple, personal ways can make a huge difference. One simple phone call could be a gift both for the caller and the called.

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Right now, I'm aware of how vital it is to find ways to strengthen our community and religious connections, especially when bonds might be strained by mistrust and isolation. In my dual roles as a spiritual counselor and facilitator in the local Walking Our Talk women's circle movement I've watched how powerful nurturing these connections can be for all of us, beyond distinctions of age, economic situation, or familial life. We feel cared for and valued when we feed our connectedness.

Instead of pulling in and letting fear distance us from one another, this pandemic could actually be the hidden opportunity we need as a culture to use our shared challenge to find new and creative ways to come together to build stronger connections and communities. I welcome the challenge!

Mary Campbell,

Great Barrington

The writer is founder and executive director, Walking Our Talk.


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