The projections for what will become of us after the dust settles from the pandemic ranges from “we’ll go back to the way things were 3 months ago” to “descending to authoritarian and fascist solutions.” I suppose either are possible, but they seem to represent two unlikely extremes, neither making room for positive deviance from this global, national, and also very personal, challenge.
I prefer the more optimistic and hopeful view, that we collectively are more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. I know from personal experience, and anecdotally from others on an individual and organizational levels, that profound growth and generativity are possible when forced to make big changes. After all, we have a choice as to whether to succumb to our challenges, or find the silver lining and opportunity inherent in every adversity.
The beautiful thing about devastating situations is that there is an opportunity for profound learning and transformation. That’s not to say we shouldn’t grieve, we shouldn’t pause, we shouldn’t be present and feel the sense of loss and devastation. We absolutely should, because going through the pain and the grief is the only healthy way to get to the other side. I’ve had my share of grief over the past 2-3 years, and I can attest to the value of embracing the grieving process as a healthy adaptation to loss.
The value of devastation and loss is that it takes us to a place we rarely go. In this unfamiliar terrain, we have a new vantage point or angle on the life and on the blessings we’ve previously taken for granted. What we see and learn from that perspective can’t be unlearned or unseen. We discover our addictions and dependencies on things that serve no valuable purpose. We uncover our assumptions and beliefs about ourselves, others, and our circumstances that no longer serve us and are actually destructive. We redirect our attention to what matters most and form a new commitment to nourishing them in our lives.
I have found these principles to be true every time I have hit rock bottom in my life (and they have been several), and I find them true now, not just for me but for us collectively, should we decide to learn these lessons.
Learning these lessons mean that we use our newfound wisdom to move forward in a way that is generative and expansive, based on principles of love and justice and moving away from fear-based decisions. While some may resist these lessons, the larger collective will not and will demand change in a new direction, which I truly believe can create a beautiful new nation and global community for us.
What does this beautiful new community look like?
In this beautiful new community, we now honor all members of the community, especially those who make personal sacrifices to serve those who are most vulnerable in our society, including all of Earth’s occupants, and who are in service to the greater good.
In this beautiful new community, we revere care for each other and Earth as our first priority, and profit as a means to the end, not the ultimate endpoint.
In this beautiful new community, we remember that we are all connected to each other and Earth (which includes infectious organisms like COVID-19) in a delicate balance, which needs to be preserved for the benefit of the whole ecosystem. All are cherished as an integral part of the ecosystem; one part of the ecosystem is not more valuable than another. To believe otherwise creates imbalance and devastating consequences.
In this beautiful new community, everyone gets what they need to thrive, and waste and excess are minimized. We realize that our fortunes are tied together, and if one part of the system collapses, it jeopardizes the whole.
In this beautiful new community, we remember the best of who we are individually and communally, and we strive to nourish and uphold our pursuit of our highest selves. Our highest selves are authentic and virtuous, and in pursuit of service to each other and Earth.
In this beautiful new community, we realize that change is inevitable. We should guide the change by pursuing knowledge, truth, light, and justice. We also embrace forgiveness and compassion for ourselves and each other, because no one is perfect except in the sense that we are meant to be humanly flawed.
In the wreckage that COVID-19 is leaving our lives and economies, we can rise from the ashes in a way never envisioned before. Our creaky, disintegrating home that burned down can be rebuilt to be beautiful, efficient, nurturing, inspiring, and accommodating to us all, in a way that the previous patches never could.
If we envision this future, we can create it.
Let us infuse our visioning with hope and love, and the belief that we can create a beautiful future for everyone once again.