On St. Patrick’s Day, area children searched for shamrocks in their neighbors’ windows. Over the past seven days, I’ve taught several friends in their 60s how to use FaceTime and Zoom. My daughter’s teacher now sends us an email at 8:30 each morning.
All of this doesn’t feel like social distancing, it feels more like social revisioning, albeit at a distance. Semantics matter — so does practice.
In the face of COVID-19 uncertainty, these acts of compassion and connection are the heart of social revisioning.
Are we experiencing physical distance? Absolutely. This physical distancing is often difficult, scary and uncertain.
Socially though, it seems we are drawing into each other and seeking new ways to practice proximity. Thank goodness. We need each other right now.
Social revisioning is the nurse at my grandma’s retirement center who brings her own iPad to work each day so that my grandma can see our faces when we tell her, “I love you.”
It is waking up every day grateful for health workers such as these, as well as food service workers, truckers and grocery store clerks. It is recognizing our inherent interdependence.
Social revisioning is all the teachers finding new ways to reach out, check-in, offer support and give positive feedback.
It’s educators using new tools outside their technical comfort zones. Social revisioning is our public schools sending WiFi hotspots to students needing access.
Social revisioning is the bakery that had to close, so they baked up all of their remaining cookie dough for nurses, doctors and hospital workers.
It’s cards sent to nursing homes and essentials delivered to the elderly and immune-compromised neighbors. It is my mother learning how to video chat.
Social revisioning is church services held from our living rooms, Shabbos candles lit at home and daily prayers made from the quiet corners of our houses. Social revisioning is the friend who calls just to chat, even though we’ve never been the kinds of friends who call just to chat.
And, of course, it is feeding each other. Our local Food Bank immediately started strategizing for what it knew would be a food insecurity crisis. Local restaurants are offering free lunches to children and health care workers.
Community members are organizing drives, collecting supplies and delivering groceries.
Social revisioning reminds us that no matter the situation, we can always find ways to reach out, to connect and to reimagine what it means to be a community together.
As the cases increase, will we keep checking in? Will we keep calling just to chat? Will we keep seeking new ways to connect with students?
As the closures continue, will we keep coming together to care for those in need? Will we accept care ourselves when needed?
Will we seek ways to support our small businesses who need our ongoing patronage? Will we hug the people in our homes close and reach out to those feeling alone?
With hope, we’ll become even more proficient in creative ways to connect and care. In the meantime, let’s keep pressing forward — together.
Kathryn Fishman-Weaver, Ph.D. is a parent, educator and author. She holds a faculty position in MU’s College of Education.