Like a Healthy Estuary, Social Interaction may be the Protective Habitat of our Mental Happiness.
In the June issue, Coastal Review highlighted the importance of SAV, submerged aquatic vegetation to our coastlines. “SAV protects shoreline erosion, improves water quality and provides habitat for fish and waterfowl. It is critically important to the wellbeing of both estuarine ecosystems and coastal communities.”
We humans are in a similar eroded habitat: in 2020 and 2021 we suffered a changed life—our loss of interacting with each other, our work circumstances, our loss of income, the illnesses and the deaths brought on by a raging killer pandemic. The loss, depending upon our circumstances was no more telling than that of this report. Like SAV, we humans need a nourishing habitat, a quality of life (human ecosystems) and uninterrupted rhythms to act as a buffer against erosion, destruction and pollution of life. In 2020 and 2021, we suffered often without full comprehension—but change sneaked in unannounced and undetected—a silent virus eroding our human habitat.
Lena Beck writes in the CoastalReview.org of a ‘new report from Duke University and North Carolina State University’ that conservatively the costs of losing only 5% of SAV could impact the Albemarle-Pamlico estuary surrounding my little island and cost the area $8.6 million over a 10-year period.
Slowly into 2021, we have learned the damage of a global pandemic upon our human habitat–our habits. Our need for each other—for connection. All lead me to question: Is social interaction—our connection to each other—a protective glove much like the underwater or submerged aquatic vegetation protecting our global coast lines. Do our connections protect us from social erosion, maintain our quality of life and improve our overall well-being? If so, we should choose our connections carefully.
While I recommend the Coastal Review article, I also contemplate (and worry) that we will continue to demonstrate horrible unkind behavior toward each other. Is our behavior no longer cultural, but now embedded in our memory, our biology? I fall back to my research that our biological bias—that which we retained through centuries of memory building—has and continues to play its role. If only we understood that essentially we need each other, regardless of gender, of skin color, of sexual orientation–regardless of things we cannot control biologically. What is the cost to our mental health if we do not?
If like the coastlines and SAV, we could move beyond being ‘stuck’ in the callus sickness that has enveloped and imperiled our everyday behavior globally. We could examine and change the attitudes and behaviors that threaten a dramatic mental cost to us all and not just my small island.