Whether you believe it was God or Mother Earth we, as a human race, have been relegated to the corner for a “time out” by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Like a five year old sent to the corner to consider the effects of his or her misbehavior, the worldwide, lock-down and isolation measures necessary to combat the virus amounts to the same penalty for our society. Regardless of who or what imposed it, the fact is, we have collectively been forced to spend some “quiet time” — to sit still and contemplate our behavior and consider how we can change for the better.
As the pandemic has raced around the world wreaking havoc, death and economic destruction in its wake, it has become increasingly clear that we deserved this time out. One of the most striking impacts of the pandemic is how it has revealed just how inequitable and out of balance our society has become, not only regarding how we treat our fellow human beings but also in our relationship to Mother Earth.
From the pandemic to the economic hardship to worldwide demonstrations over another needless death of black men such as George Floyd and Jacob Blake at the hands of police, to a political system that is so polarized as to be failing the people it is meant to serve to our increasingly ugly civil discourse, it seems as if the world is spinning out of control.
It is like Mother Earth is attempting to shake off a virus of its own. Mother Earth knows she is finite. Mother Earth knows she can only support so much population, pollution and civil unrest on her life giving bounty. And she is letting us know she’s upset. Like a dog trying to shake fleas from its body, so too is Mother Earth shaking up the human race in an effort to spur it to reconsider its behavior.
We had better listen because Mother Earth always prevails. You mess with Mother Earth at your peril.
Many are hoping that we can eventually return to normal. But it has become crystal clear that there will be no return to normal. Virtually everything – from the way we think to the values we embrace to the things we do — will have to be re-imagined and revamped. We, as individuals, families, communities, countries and as a world collective will have to reconsider and adjust in a way that is more respectful and humble as it relates to our treatment of each other and our stewardship of the planet. And our approach must be grounded in humility, empathy and creativity.
What are some lessons we can consider and learn as we contemplate the behavior that landed us in this uncomfortable time out? Will we have the humility to consider whether our current consumption driven, winner take all society might need to be reconsidered and adjusted? Or will we revert to being overly obsessed with the accumulation of material things and the notion that “I” is more important than “We”. Will we be smart enough to realize that when my neighbor prospers, I do as well? Will we have the courage and wisdom to truly embrace the notion that we are all in this together?
Can we be more empathic to the needs and challenges facing our friends and neighbors, regardless of their class, race or creed? Will our time out force us to muster more compassion for those less fortunate? While in time out will we not only recognize but support and reward what and who truly is “essential”?
Will we have the discipline and commitment to become more educated regarding subjects related to economic inequality, racism and environmental degradation so we can better understand and appreciate the underlying causes of these societal afflictions?
And can we harness the creativity and vision necessary to re-imagine a better way forward? In short, will we use this time out to thoughtfully reflect and prepare to become more caring and responsible neighbors and citizens?
Yes, we are disappointed and angry that we can’t frequent bars, theaters, restaurants and stadiums or generously give hugs to family and friends like we used to. And yes, it is frustrating and painful to have these life pleasures denied.
But as we “open up” and begin to emerge from our time out, we’ll be far better off thoughtfully considering whether we will have the courage, wisdom and commitment to re-imagine and restructure our new normal. Only then will we be able to move forward to make that new normal, not only new, but better — more generous, more equitable, more just, more empathetic and more humble.