What is a community? The simple answer is a group of people who live in the same place or have something in common. You may have heard someone talk about a sense of community. These days you can find this anywhere, and many companies use it as a part of their marketing. We constantly get invitations to join a community, so the word may not mean that much any more.

Many in my country think of words like unity, integration, interaction, identification, and togetherness when they think about community. We are used to thinking of ourselves as one. Other countries have division or disunity, but that doesn’t happen here. Unions like the USA and Britain have a population that can be separated into the haves and have nots. Poverty and inequality doesn’t exist here. It does, but we don’t like to admit it. We are a socialist democracy after all. So why is it so hard to behave?

Here is the thing. We don’t know who will end up on a ventilator. Experts say that people with underlying conditions (such as diabetes, heart and lung disease, cancer, and people with a compromised immune system) are at risk. I wonder how many people there are with an underlying condition they don’t know about. It happens. Issues can slowly develop over many years. You can even have a silent heart attack without knowing about it. I’m not trying to scare anyone, but if you don’t actively try to boost your immune system, the chance of you joining a risk groups increases. It’s that simple.

I’m not easily provoked, but I’ve seen a lot of stupid Norwegians the last couple of weeks. In addition to all the things individuals have done, there’s the local authorities. The three most northern counties make out the region we call Northern-Norway, and they are trying to stop the virus by quarrantining people who have been south of this area. There is even one county trying to quarrantine people who have traveled inside their own county. This part of the country has many inter-municipal services, especially those intended to help children (such as the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, The Educational and Psychological Counseling Service, and The Child Protective Services). So if these employees are forced to stay within their own municipality, how are they going to help someone across the border?

It makes me wonder. What if it was something else, something worse? What if there was a war? Would we be one country? Would we feel any unity? Would we feel that decisons made in Oslo were relevant for us, where we lived? I appreciate the salad bowl as a metaphor for the community, better than a melting pot, or a pizza, because in a salad we get to keep our individuality, at the same time as we help create something new together. What kind of salad are we? I’m not sure it’s a good one. Are you one of those that pick out the black olives and feta cheese because they have a strong flavour you don’t like? Who would you pick out in real life? We do it all the time. Maybe not consciously, but we have attitudes about religions, ethnicity, disability, gender, religion, social status and so on. How much does that influence us?

Community has to be experienced. You can’t just approve or adopt it, and then assume it’s stable for an eternity. It takes commitment and work, and just like hope, it may not feel good at all. As for this crisis, Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England, said it best:

Reading has not been cancelled

Cup of tea. I'm with C. S. Lewis who felt that a cup of tea could never be too big and a book too thick. They are magical ingredients.
I’m with C. S. Lewis on tea and books. They are magical ingredients.

I woke up early this morning and said to myself that C. S. Lewis was correct. He said once that he could never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit him. Fortunately I’m reading a long series at the moment, so it’ll take me a while to get to the end. I’m only on the 2nd of 21 books in C. J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series (the 21st is expected to be released in September this year).

I’m glad to have this series for many reasons. It’s a great story for starters, but I think the Covid 19 situation would be much harder without books. I could easily get cabin fever, because what do you do when there’s no sport anywhere, no concerts, closed libraries, closed schools, and people are strongly encouraged to stay home?

First of all, I don’t think it’s a good idea to stay at home all the time. I live in an area where there is a lot of space, so I can take walks without having to meet people, and when I do, we know to keep a certain distance. I do what I can to boost my immune system, and exercise is a part of that. Besides, sunlight may not kill the virus, but it is known to be an enemy of most viruses.

So what do you do when you come home? The basic cable package is a part the homeowners association fee where I live, but I’m not sure I would have bothered with it if I had to pay for those channels separately. There was a time when I enjoyed TV more than I do now. It could be that I have changed, but I think a lot changed when everyone was seduced by the dark side, aka reality shows. I’m not even that impressed by Netflix most of the time, so I’m glad to have books available.

I struggle with attention, so there are many days when I can’t read uninterrupted for hours, like I could some years ago, and when that happens, I switch between different things. These days I read some, spend some time thinking about the characters in the Foreigner universe, and I write some. We also have family activities, like playing board games and watching a film. Our film nights are like the TBS show Dinner and a Movie, except we do all the talking while the film is running. That makes them educational, because I don’t think you should stay away from films that include a message you don’t like.

My daughter likes musicals and dancing, and she had been curious about Grease for a while, so we watched that film last Friday. It’s a good story, and it gives you an opportuntiy to debate peer pressure, how boys and girls can see things differently, but also the importance of not pretending to be someone you are not, because you think that will make you happy. In other words, girls shouldn’t change for a boy, and vice versa.

This was the first Covid-19 weekend since my country shut down. Next week will be a challenge with closed schools and no afternoon activities for my daughter to go to, but I think there’ll be a lot of reading, because you can’t cancel books. I’m not going to shop like there’s no tomorrow, but although I sometimes have to make myself read when it’s hard to focus, I’m going to, because that makes my life pretty good. Life is by no means cancelled, neither is family.