Will Isolation Protect Us From A Pandemic?
The fact is that we are better prepared for a pandemic than we were a decade ago, and it has nothing to do with medicine or politics. Never before have we been able to live our lives without leaving the confines of our homes. We can instantly get any information we need and entertainment we desire from the internet and media. We can communicate with virtually anyone in the world with a click. We can order all of the food we need and have it left at our front door. Many can work from home. Physical interaction with others is simply not as important as it was in years past. It may be perfect for slowing the advance of disease, but horrific for the future of the human race.
Some might argue that the need for human interaction is overrated. They believe that they can, for the most part, take care of their own needs and wants just fine as an independent contractor. Why open oneself to hatred, divisiveness, judgment and all of the social pressures that so often block our paths to happiness? Of course the problem with this line of reasoning is that the complete reliance on solitary pursuits leads to a lack of independent thought, creativity, love, compassion, and an appreciation for nature. It’s a perfect recipe for conditions described in the Orwell novel “1984”, an environment that has now been percolating for a number of years. When people are kept isolated, when they are constantly lied to and told that the media is the enemy, when those in authority strike down those who dare to oppose or tell the truth, the future does not bode well.
Actually, the people who provide the daily physical services that we need as a society are our lifeline. At least as of now we still need people to staff our hospitals, pick up our refuse, guard our safety, respond to emergency situations, deliver our goods, etc. These people don’t have the luxury of being loners. They, along with the impoverished have no option of working from home. Not much justice in the fact that the folks who provide the services we need to remain isolated are the most exposed to pandemics and economic hardship.
The irony here is that the isolationism and technology that has the potential to lessen the severity of pandemics has the potential to wreak greater havoc. People think that they can manage their whole lives on smart phones. I went to a restaurant recently and sat next to a table of ten. Each person at the table was actively engaged with their phone, and no discussion took place for the full hour during which I was observing. Like automatons we live to post photos on social media as we document our activities. Most of these photos are inane selfies posing at events, next to statues, or simply smiling at nothing. When we truly are experiencing a transcendent happening, a gorgeous sunset, the curl of a monster wave, a dolphin leaping from the blue, we are so obsessed with capturing the perfect shot that the experience itself becomes meaningless.
We are experiencing the dumbing down of society. Why engage in critical thinking, or imagination for that matter, if anything that we need to know can be uncovered is a few seconds on the web? The great mysteries of life and the exploration of meaning and purpose seem like silly and useless endeavors to so many. We chase illusions in the pursuit of happiness, only to be disappointed when material and physical rewards don’t bring the emotional relief that we expected.
Yes, the current and future pandemics will result in death and hardship. These are tangible results that will affect the lives of many. However, the mother of all pandemics is presently silent. Our very future remains in limbo as we decide if we are meant to be independent units separated from the universe or part of a collective consciousness where our bonds to others are paramount to our existence. It’s not as bleak as it sounds. Since the times of the ancients there has been much resurgence of civilizations that saw the bigger picture. They were periodically wiped out by organized religion and politics, but the point is that they were never extinguished. Our intuitive minds and hearts always find a way to prevail.