I told an introverted friend this week the Corona-19 virus shelter-in-place era may convert all us extroverts into introverts. (Hold the applause, you introverts!) And I think that applies to us personally and to our “extroverted” nation that too often has claimed extroverted privilege and entitlement. Extroversion is defined as "outgoing and socially active,” but we extroverts are now experiencing some serious conversion. We are being led quietly, head bowed, to defer to the thoughtfully required six feet of separation from our compulsive social interactions into a new found equality and humility in the shadow of the virus.
I have concluded that the enforced sabbath shelter-in-place regimen has been especially good for us extroverts. The discipline of social distancing means we don’t engage as easily in distractive societal busyness, and we find ourselves alone and frightened enough that we actually engage in some needed - and perhaps too long deferred - introspection. The universal threat of death, for a start, raises intimations of our mortality which, in turn, seems to lead quickly to reflecting on what we most love because we realize more acutely what we are missing when we are forced to live in isolation. And the top of the missing-in-action-and-hugging list is the impact of social distancing, especially with beloved family members, and most especially children. Blessed be our Zooms and FaceTime worlds, but…
We extroverts are summoned now to the opportunity to spend more time nurturing what means the most to us. We are invited to respond to the prompts encouraging us to engage in reflecting more deeply about what we want from our lives, especially as we are experiencing a pivotal historical time when we are swept up in new ways we will be interacting with each other - personally and globally. So we would do well to ask ourselves how we are to plan beyond the likely personal and societal epochal mutations ahead of us when we finally come out on the other side of the pandemic.
The longer and more disrupting the pandemic may be, given the fragility and new appreciation for the brevity of life, I envision us continuing to engage more profoundly in questions about how we are to be more egalitarian, more cooperative, less consuming of natural resources, more committed to nonviolence, more attuned to living our vision for a beloved community in and around us and in the world.
For extroverts especially, perhaps, living under the confines of the pandemic has given us intimations, glimpses, of the need for conversion to a different version of what kind of future we might create. Without compromising our preference for enthusiastic but sometimes disruptive and harmful behaviors, may we also be converted into expressions of greater respect for the quieter, more introspective gifts of thoughtful discernment, reverence for life, and a basic acknowledgement that before God, and in the midst of a global pandemic, we are all just vulnerable humans after all.