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Commentary: Counting Blessings Amid Coronavirus

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Alan Siporin
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Former KLCC program host and commentator Alan Siporin has been socially distancing himself for years. But he says social distancing is the wrong term and it’s an important distinction.

I haven’t been distancing myself all these years because I’m contagious. I distance myself because I suffer from pain so severe that being with more than one person at a time can trigger and increase my pain. 

Trigeminal neuropathic pain has been called the suicide disease and is considered the world’s worst pain. I don’t know how you determine something like that. Pain is relative to each person. Suffice to say its bad.

Because the pain is in my face raising my voice enough to be heard in a fairly quiet restaurant triggers throbs and spasms throughout an already aching face.  So I rarely go out. Fortunately for me I have an understanding wife. Fortunately for her, I’m a pretty good cook. Like most of you now days, I go to the grocery store, and to the pharmacy.  But in my case keeping my PHYSICAL distance isn’t quite enough. I have to avoid SOCIALIZING to keep the pain at bay. In fact, I’m likely to pay a price for projecting these few words to you.

But mostly I feel lucky. Just like nearly all of you, I can text and email, allowing me to stay in touch with people I love. My daughter and grandsons, my brother and sister. You see, that’s why what we are practicing is not SOCIAL distancing.  We remain socially engaged. What we are doing is physically distancing. It’s an important distinction.

I would never minimize the value of a good hug, but are people willing to risk their lives and the lives of others rather than stay six feet apart and stay home most of the time? Think how much worse things could be. What if Covid-19 had struck prior to cell phones and laptops? Or telephones? We would be cut off. And lonely.

I won’t say we have it easy, not when we live under the fear of death and so many experience real suffering and loss. And there are people, right now, without internet access. We could have it much worse. 

If the prospect of a few more months of physical distancing is getting to you, quit counting the dead and the jobless and count your blessings, instead.

Alan Siporin is a former KLCC program host and NPR commentator. And is the author of Fire’s Edge, an award-winning novel about hate crimes in Oregon.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s former News Director. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000. After reporting for the Northwest News Network and KAZU, Rachael returned to KLCC in 2007 as Morning Edition host and a general assignment reporter covering politics, the environment, education, and the arts. She was hired as KLCC News Director in 2018. Rachael departed KLCC in June, 2022.
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