"[W]hen Hurricane Irene devastated my state, Vermont, in 2011, people turned out within hours, bringing tools from backhoes to brooms."

"They mucked out basements and rebuilt driveways, and they kept coming back for weeks, until the job was done. They did it for strangers, mostly—although they didn’t remain strangers for long. But, with coronavirus, none of that is possible. There’s little way to be of use except to disappear inside your home, so that you can’t infect anyone. Indeed, even the places we gather for solace are increasingly off limits. Churches.... Schools....  sports...  We should use the quiet of these suddenly uncrowded days to think a little about how much we’ve allowed social isolation to grow in our society, even without illness as an excuse.... If we pay attention, we may value more fully the moment we’re released from our detention, and we may even make some changes in our lives as a result. It will be a relief, above all, when we’re allowed to get back to caring for one another, which is what socially evolved primates do best."

From "With the Coronavirus, Hell Is No Other People" by Bill McKibben (in The New Yorker).

There is the forced isolation of social distancing, and there is the isolation we choose for ourselves. During the forced isolation, we can reflect on the good and the bad of our chosen isolation. I don't agree with the implication that because we are "socially evolved primates," the meaning of life is to socialize. There is great value in solitude and in life within marriage and within a family. But this is a time to reflect on what really matters, and in addition to the trouble and pain, we may experience deeper benefits.

As we protect ourselves and others through this isolation, we should be thinking about how we can help. We can't help but going about ministering to others. And we need to help by doing what we can to avoid being among those who need medical care or cause anyone else to need medical care. Don't be part of the physical problem. But we can also help by using this time not to agonize and stir each other up but to preserve and refine our mind and our soul.

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