Read

Make Community Mean Something in this Pandemic

Creator:
Published:
November 28, 2023
May 28, 2020
Why is community important during the pandemic? This author goes into detail.|Why is community important during the pandemic? This author goes into detail.

Will this pandemic experience lead to a renewed commitment to community? Hindsight may be 20/20, but I don’t think we will learn the value of community simply by looking back on this time if we haven’t learned to do things that build community during it.

Social media fills us with reassuring messages that we’re not alone, but these slogans leave us empty when our experience of loneliness or sorrow persists. If we want a more durable kind of togetherness, we have to put the work into building it.

New York Times columnist David Brooks notes the distinction between what he refers to as social connection and social solidarity. The proliferation of #weareinthistogether and #alonetogether are prime examples of social connection. The internet is tailor-made for broadcasting social connection through wide but often vague gestures. We need calls to action, but it’s not always clear what actions we’re being called to.

Expressions of social connection run the risk of becoming false advertising if we lack genuine social solidarity to back them. Solidarity, as Brooks defines it, is an “active virtue.” It is active because solidarity is a matter of doing, not simply feeling. And it’s a virtue in that it arises from a deep, interior dimension. If we dig a bit into both parts of Brooks’ equation, we’ll find two practical suggestions for how to cultivate solidarity during this time.

Active: Pandemics are overwhelming. Hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, grocery stores are overwhelmed by product demand, our news feeds are overwhelmed with updates. We are overwhelmed. It’s hard to know where to start.

From the New York Times’ “All of the Ways You Can Help” to Grotto’s own list of ways to assist your neighbor, there are plenty of resources on specific things we can do. The first step is to take a small step. Choose something manageable and build from there, whether it’s sending a card by snail mail to someone living alone, or making a donation to a local food bank. The important thing is to start. And then keep going. Community, both physical and virtual, doesn’t come from a one-off photo op. Community is built by showing up, time and again.

Virtue: If the fruit of solidarity is outward action, its roots drink from deep, interior wells of gratitude and compassion.

If we are learning anything in this time as a society, perhaps it is gratitude — gratitude for aptly described “essential” workers, gratitude for health care professionals, gratitude for those who provide us with accurate information. Gratitude is the discipline of celebrating the often unnoticed social glue that connects us to each other.

But community, of course, isn’t only about giving thanks for the joy that others add to our lives. Community also moves us to compassion for others — that is, a willingness to sit with them in their loss. We’ve all had experiences of loss in this time — from the loss of plans, to the loss of a job, to the loss of loved ones. Rather than mourn in isolation, our own losses — from the mundane to the profound — can be invitations to grow in sensitivity for the daily realities of others.

Because, after all, it is true: #weareinthistogether. Let’s commit to acting that way. Then we’ll all have something to give thanks for.

Creators:
Ben Wilson
Published:
November 28, 2023
May 28, 2020
On a related note...
St. Matthew Spotify Playlist | #GrottoMusic

St. Matthew Spotify Playlist | #GrottoMusic

Grotto

3 Keys to Engaging With Those We Disagree With

3 Keys to Engaging With Those We Disagree With

Neil Fulton

What 'Dune' Teaches Us About Scarcity and Social Equity

What 'Dune' Teaches Us About Scarcity and Social Equity

Hanna Van Elk

Good and Decent EP 23: Free Listening

Good and Decent EP 23: Free Listening

Grotto

Grotto Team Resolutions

Grotto Team Resolutions

Grotto

Meatless Friday Recipe: Enchilada Casserole

Meatless Friday Recipe: Enchilada Casserole

Grotto

Down Syndrome Won't Stop This Young Entrepreneur

Down Syndrome Won't Stop This Young Entrepreneur

Grotto

"Spring Practice"

"Spring Practice"

Judith Sornberger

Take Me Home: A Grotto Short Film

Take Me Home: A Grotto Short Film

Grotto

“Dying with Dignity”

“Dying with Dignity”

Molly Cruitt

What We Too Often Forget About Helping People in Need

What We Too Often Forget About Helping People in Need

Sophie Caldecott

Refugee Creates Stunning Mosaic Art

Refugee Creates Stunning Mosaic Art

Grotto

5 Easy Baking Recipes for Your Holiday Gathering

5 Easy Baking Recipes for Your Holiday Gathering

Lauren Lawson

How to Find a New Creative Outlet in Haiku

How to Find a New Creative Outlet in Haiku

Robert Christian

Giving to Charity Isn't the Only Way to Help Those In Need

Giving to Charity Isn't the Only Way to Help Those In Need

Chuck Lamphier

Podcast S1 | Ep.5: Finding Friendship

Podcast S1 | Ep.5: Finding Friendship

Grotto

Podcast Helps Military Spouses Find Community

Podcast Helps Military Spouses Find Community

Grotto

Text Adventure Game Represents Disability

Text Adventure Game Represents Disability

Grotto

A Commitment to Radical Kinship

A Commitment to Radical Kinship

Stephanie DePrez

Questions are Keys that Unlock Doors to Other People

Questions are Keys that Unlock Doors to Other People

Renée Roden

newsletter

We’d sure love to be pals.

Like what you see? Make it easy on yourself and we’ll meet you right in your inbox next time.