Extend and strengthen your network.

In “Getting Through This Moment”, Dr. Mindy Fullilove outlines five principles for ‘getting through the disaster’:

This week we turn our attention to #4 – “Extend and Strengthen your network” 

“The US is a very fractured nation.  We are divided by race, class, gender, sexual orientation, region, political party, Coke vs. Pepsi: you name it, we’re divided by it.  This pandemic has fallen on a very weak body politic.  We aren’t looking out for one another.  Furthermore, our most important leaders have exploited our division to build their political power, which they are continuing to do as we move through this disaster. 

Our networks are formed within our groups, with all-too-few ties that might link one group to another.  While we must care for our families and our group – church, school and neighborhood – we must also seek to reach across division to help others who are different from ourselves.  This is the hardest thing to do in our society.  We have found, however, that every one of us has some connection across groups and each of these is unique.  By pooling our out-group connections, we can build a much wider set of relationships.  And if those people reach out, it becomes bigger still.  It’s like repurposing the webs of infection as the webs of protection.  In webs of infection, we want to cut face-to-face closecontact, increasing physical distance.  In webs of protection, we reach across the divisions to provide succor to everyone, eliminating social distance.  This is the moment to go through every cell contact you have – even if you don’t remember who it is! – and send a note saying, “How are you holding up?”  Doing so may connect you to someone who needs a hand or who may be able to help you get through this time.

As one example, Doug Farrand, who heads the Music Department at the University of Orange, sent the UofO leadership a photo of a little boy named Jordan whistling while standing next to his drawing of himself whistling.  It felt to me like a window into another world and it lifted my spirits enormously that Doug was Jordan’s music teacher.  I can, in return, share with them, the ways in which I’m working with the team that cleans my house to implement mutual safety.  Doug doesn’t know my team, but I know it will lift his spirits to hear about this collaborative work we’re undertaking.  

We, the people, are very big and very powerful, if we but knew it.”

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