Opinion: Finding creative ways for vital community connection

By Robert J. Silver
Posted 3/20/20

The initial shock and awe somewhat subsiding, Taos finds itself in a historically familiar place - standing pretty much on its own to face a marauding invader. This time, it's not an imprisoning, genocidal cavalry.

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Opinion: Finding creative ways for vital community connection

Posted

The initial shock and awe somewhat subsiding, Taos finds itself in a historically familiar place - standing pretty much on its own to face a marauding invader. This time, it's not an imprisoning, genocidal cavalry.

Nor is it the relatively more recent and minor by comparison six-day curtailment of natural gas needed to heat our homes in the middle of a 20-degree-below-zero Northern New Mexico winter.

No, this time it is the impending arrival of a pandemic viral scourge that respects no boundaries and threatens human beings everywhere. This, as they say, is not our first "rodeo." But, what are we individuals in Taos to do?

States of emergency have been declared across all political jurisdictions - national, state and local. Elected officials, police officers and the medical community have been granted extraordinary temporary emergency powers. They are understood to be currently perfecting coordinated plans to mitigate the damage done to our community by this looming worldwide threat.

But the rest of us, having skin in the game, might be potentially helpful in this fight against disease Armageddon in ways that reach beyond politics, law enforcement and medicine.

To state the obvious, we are all in this together. We must be committed comrades in this war. We depend upon our brothers, sisters, friends and neighbors to scrupulously play their complementary roles in defeating COVID-19. We need each other as never before to act responsibly and reliably in avoiding contact with the virus and with those who carry it.

And if nevertheless sickened by it, we depend upon those unfortunate victims to protect the rest of us from it by following established treatment and quarantine protocols. To accomplish this, we must assure the timely and reliable flow of the best and most accurate knowledge and information possible. If there is an information vacuum, it will inevitably be filled by our worst fantasies and it will hamper our efforts.

In times like these, members of many faith traditions look to their spiritual leaders and fellow parishioners for guidance, comfort and support.

It's grotesquely ironic that this Sunday, this ides of March, as these words are written, many of our community's places of worship will, along with other large-audience entertainment and cultural venues, be closed and empty. Our physical safety and prudence demand that we minimize proximity to others, when we emotionally need it most.

Community cohesiveness in a crisis is unlikely in the absence of full and accurate information. Given the legendary, courageous creativity of Taos, could the means be found in available livestream video technology to temporarily and partially answer the need for timely, reliable accurate information and guidance regarding the COVID-19 threat?

The town of Taos and Taos County each regularly livestream events of importance to their constituents. Others may be doing this as well. In this time of national emergency, could this technology be repurposed to answer the need for sound information? And with expanded content, could it also offer virtual ministry to spiritual, cultural, psychological and social needs that remain unsatisfied given the social distancing now in place? Local, volunteer talent might just pull off something like this.

Robert Silver is a retired psychologist. He resides in Taos.

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