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Social Closeness

Blog 23 I once read about the community of Roseto, Pennsylvania. Roseto was made up of Italian immigrants that seemed to defy medical norms. The residents lived an unhealthy lifestyle, which included a lack of exercise, smoking, a lousy diet and obesity. Statistically this lifestyle should have resulted in mass heart disease … it did not. Intrigued researchers descended on the community seeking a medical answer. As it turns out the answer lays in sociology. This community of 2000 residents spent a good deal of time visiting with one another. They shared meals and worshipped in the same church. A surprising number of families lived with three generations under one roof, with grandparents commanding enormous respect. There were 22 civic organizations that boasted full, active memberships. Researchers noticed an unspoken egalitarian ethos, which discouraged the wealthy from flaunting their success, while obscuring the failure of the less successful. The end result was a stress free community, which in terms of health, played a more important role than did genetics, diet, or lifestyle.

I’ve always felt squeamish about our collective response (or lack there of) to the government’s insistence that we dutifully “Shelter in Place,” and “Social Distancing.” Roseto only reinforces my discomfort. “Shelter in Place” and “Social Distancing” are in fact unhealthy in the long run. It is imperative that as we come out of this thing that “We” dictate the “New Normal”. Gathering and socializing, chatting about the inconsequential, helping the less fortunate neighbor. There has been a distancing from citizen and community for a number of decades now. It’s time that we revisit the importance community and get healthy again.


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