Self-isolation or a part of the main by Angela Caldin

We went to see our younger daughter in Australia and arrived back in NZ on Tuesday at 2am, just 26 hours too late to avoid self-isolation.

So now we are self-isolating for two weeks from 17 to 30 March inclusive. You may very well say it serves us right for being irresponsible enough to risk the journey when it was clear that the coronavirus was spreading fast. And I can’t argue with that, though I am glad to have seen my daughter before the world-wide hatches batten down completely and we are separated for many months.

We’ve moved the exercise bike, which has been languishing in a corner for many months, into the living room so we can cycle away in front of the TV. We’ve done loads of washing and cleaning. Offers to help with food shopping have come in from family and friends and I’ve got a good book to read.

The common good

I was thinking about the word ‘isolation’. It comes from the Latin insulus which means an island. So when we go into self-isolation, we make an island of ourselves in order to protect everybody. The inconvenience is necessary and worth it because it is for the common good. And that’s the fundamental point: we are all in this together and must act for the good of each other as well as ourselves. Although we make an island of ourselves for weeks or even months, we do this for a greater purpose which links us to the well-being of all humankind. So even though we are physically isolated, we are still deeply connected to our families, our friends, our countries and the whole world. The words of John Donne come echoing down the years:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

3 Comments on “Self-isolation or a part of the main by Angela Caldin

  1. If only I had had a copy of your piece two days ago when I passed a woman (well over 70, if not 80) in the High Street, nattering to a friend. ‘Catch me staying indoors for weeks. They can take a running jump …’

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