In recent COVID news updates, NSW officials told people to not to stop and say hello to their neighbour in the supermarket. ‘Now is not the time to be friendly.’ ‘Don’t start up a conversation.’ ‘Do not come into contact with anyone else.’
Have we completely lost our way? Have we let our fear of contagion compromise our compassion?
I wonder how these social distancing rules are changing the very fabric of our friendly, caring and compassionate culture. Will we ever feel comfortable shaking someone’s hand again? If an elderly lady drops her shopping bag in the carpark, will fellow community members run to help her or turn the other way?
These are just some of the scenarios we’re faced with now, and yet one thing remains the same: we humans are wired for connection.
I love this photo for so many reasons. It was taken a few years ago when I was travelling through Metsovo, a village in the north of Greece. It’s a bus stop where these Greek gentlemen come together every day to sit, chat, laugh and spend time with each other. They aren’t actually waiting for a bus. They simply meet to connect.
I got talking to one of them (in broken Greek), and he explained that every day as he wakes up, he looks forward to this gathering. He also told me that he was 95 years old and that his friendships and connections are the reason he is so healthy.
Longevity researcher, Dan Buettner, says that the health benefits of friendships and social networks are so powerful, they can add healthy years to your life.
‘In general, you want friends with whom you can have a meaningful conversation. You can call them on a bad day and they will care. Your group of friends are better than any drug or anti-aging supplement, and will do more for you than just about anything.’ Source: The Power of Positive People
More than ever, we all need a community, a chat and a friendly hello.