The Global Pandemic is a portal through which we can see beyond everything. This tear in the fabric of normalcy has exposed just how deeply insecure we have become across the globe. As our fear and uncertainty about the future rises, the scarcity within our soul manifests itself on retail shelves.
The world is now moving toward a lockdown, self-isolation and social distancing, and for very good reason. For those who think this is all an over-reaction to another version of the flu, then you have misinformation. This is not a political ploy, this is not armageddon, this is a byproduct of our global interdependence and interconnectedness.
Pandemics are a math equation about the rate of infection over time, and self quarantines are the only collective effort that can slow the rate of infection which slows the doubling effect. Within three months this virus has infected the entire planet. For example; lets say it will take another 30 days to infect 100% of the population and the rate of infection doubles every day. In this scenario, 50% of the world would be infected on day 29 and 25% on day 28. Without drastic measures early on, the last few days would devastate our world. It’s a time for sobriety, diligent action and sacrifice.
Because of this, we must heed the advice to stay put. We cannot risk getting infected and infecting others. Since we will be self-contained for a while, I wanted to offer some considerations that have the potential to radically change the course of our world as it returns to a new normal. Just as one virus touches the world in three months, so as C.S. Lewis says, “a good infection” can alter the course of our world. Here are some ways to ensure we don’t squander our sequestration.
- Reflect on our interdependence and inter-connectedness.
With so many of us walking around with our heads in our apps, engulfed in our feeds, and replacing words with digital hieroglyphs, the human experience has gravitated toward what is happening inside us more than what is outside. Our urbanized world has insulated us from the invisible people behind our supply chains whose daily service enables us to live in our oblivion of what it takes to bring us every comfort imaginable.
Take this time to make a permanent change to never forget the farmer, the field laborer, the transportation worker, the grocery stocker, not to mention the capital equipment, land, leasing and banking behind it all, as well as the store, and the infrastructure that puts it all so close to home. That $4.00 box of strawberries is a wonder that we skim over every day.
Otherness disease is more harmful than COVID-19. Otherness is the result of a blind and immature heart. We each play a vital role within this world and while we all possess something that make us unique as an individual, we are not completely “other” than everyone else. We are all dependents. We all depend on the government, we all depend upon each other. To get through this time we will rely so heavily on those who are essential to our survival. While we immediately think of healthcare workers, and those who are trucking in supplies, food, and store operators who are making things available, this also means you and me for not contributing to the spread of this disease.
2. Allow your boredom to reveal your deeper problem.
So much of our lives is pure distraction. We go from one thing to the next to the next without questions. Worry piles upon worry. With no movies, restaurants or events to attend, with school and work moved to the home, our boredom will expose just how stir crazy we become if we cannot anesthetize ourselves with distraction. Try and remain conscious of yourself and your loved ones and watch how we immediately turn to the TV, video games, or some form of entertainment.
This is a sacred time. The world is not going on without us. There is no need for FOMO. The entire world is now within this very sacred space of heightened awareness. Let us not waste it on distraction. This isn’t a staycation either. Let us repair that part within our heart that can’t sit still. Let us repair that relationships that have lost their gravitational pull. This is a time to reconnect to the transcendent, and with one another. Once we open our eyes to see this, make a life long determination not to slip back into vicarious living. Learn to BE, HERE, NOW. Receive the next moment, don’t fight it. Then take this new skill out into the new world when we are once again free to re-engage.
3. Love casts out fear.
Fear is the brain operating on its lowest level of consciousness. If we see others acting in fear, our collective consciousness generates a widespread panic which lowers our capacities of discernment and decision making. Fear evokes our tribal mentality and pits us in competition for survival against all others. We see this now as people hoard supplies without a thought for how there are so many who also need them. “MINE! MINE! MINE!” says the toddler who just loaded their SUV with toilet paper.
Love is a different operating system. It’s not software, its hardware. Love doesn’t operate in competition because it is immune from the “otherness” virus. Love knows the last four bottles on the shelf are not the last four bottles ever. Love thinks clearly and operates from a higher plane. It remembers others. So next time you come to a mostly empty shelf and see just the thing you need, remember, someone loved you enough to leave it. That could be you. Will it be?
Love is the greatest source of power in the universe. For many faith systems, love and God are synonymous. If God or Love requires that we go without, we can trust what will come without fear because it serves the greater purposes of love. It really is possible to live in these times without fear. I believe the abundance of fear and panic is actually reflecting just how far our world has drifted from our true Source.
“Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.” (Psalm 30:10)
In scripture, the stories of plagues serve as reminders to prideful people of their powerlessness and to bring them back to dependence on God and interdependence with one another. It’s about humility. Lets use this time to recapture it. Maybe it’s time to go deeper, look closer, or ask a heartfelt questions.
4. Adopt abundance rather than scarcity.
An empty store shelf, a dwindling 401K, the lack of PPE for medical professionals, closed Starbucks, and the list goes on. Compared to the overstock to which we are accustomed, we are in a time of scarcity. For some families, things are going to get even more scarce. Some of us will be inconvenienced, others will truly suffer.
There is a scarcity that is far worse than our material possessions, the mindset of scarcity. I’ve already shared the low consciousness of fear and scarcity is it’s cousin. Those living from this mindset are at the very bottom of the consciousness scale and usually it’s due to surroundings, circumstances and the need for survival. The scarcity mind is our deepest poverty. It is desperate and disoriented. Once trapped, the scarcity mind struggles to see reality as it is, only as it is for oneself.
The abundance mindset is the cure. The abundance mind knows there is enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed. The scarcity mind plunders others, the abundant mind blesses others. The abundant mind is confident that what is needed will be provided with diligent and sustained effort. Abundance celebrates the connectedness of all others. The scarcity mind has mistakenly concluded they are all alone and quits trying.
During this time of reflection, pay attention to any tendency toward a scarcity mind and reframe it from a perspective of abundance. Watch what happens to you, and then watch how your life changes, not only now while things are difficult, but especially as things return to normal.
5. Redesign your life. Redesign our world.
The person who took all the hand-sanitizer is the same person who disproportionately takes all the corporate profits for themselves. Those who won’t respect quarantine are the same as the politician who panders to lobbyists who will fund their campaign. We all bemoan the self-interests of others and long for change, but it eludes us because we think the change is required by the other person.
If there is any part of your life with which you are not happy, now is the time to plan for a change. Is it time to move? Is it time break free of a community that brings you down? Is it time to get that education, skill, or make a career change? You want to change the world? Now is the time. Our world is revealing not just its problems, but a million new opportunities. The abundant mind, without fear can see a thousand places to serve, to jump in and to make a new start. Got a skill with no employer? Start the kind of company you’ve dreamed of now while money is virtually free and competition has been eroded. Think you can do better that what’s out there? Now is your time.
Let’s not wallow in self-pity. Let’s stop complaining and actually do something. Let’s use this time to heal our mind, heart and relationships. Let’s have meaningful conversations about what is really important and how we can begin on a new path. If you have lost everything, then you have nothing to lose. The whole world is in this boat, we have all taken a hit because we are all interconnected. Let’s make the necessary changes now so that as we begin to re-emerge in the world together, we can ride the wave of opportunity back into a world we can all celebrate and enjoy.
The greatest power we have is our ability and freedom to choose to do the right thing even if its the hard thing. We’ve been given a sort of “do-over” and that is a tremendous opportunity as well as responsibility. The world has never been easier to re-engineer for the benefit of all. The collective has not slowed and united as much as it is now. Now is the time to wake up. We can only do this if we heal and change from within. Then and only then will we see our way through to the new world.
Here’s a bonus one. Calling all Spiritual Leaders
Based upon the state of our world in response to this crisis, I’d have to say that organized religion has not been very effective in leading and growing its people. Where are all of those who are supposed to know better?
If our institutions of faith are not bringing us together and uniting all humanity right now, then they are a sham. A competitive religion is an institutional trap that will steal our money, time and life. Break free from it now. If the message of our church, synagog, mosque or temple is somehow trying to capitalize on the panic and fear with its own fear based narrative, then they are impotent and incapable of leading the world.
Use this time in isolation to evaluate just how effective your community of faith really is. If it has spent all its resources on its staff, building and weekend big show, then its a pretty good indicator that its plundering the world rather than serving it. Find and support a community that gets it.
To those who know better and who have spiritual maturity, the world desperately needs you. To those whose heart is that of service, who are motivated by love, who seek to empower people and equip them to love and serve the world, your work has never been more important. For those who aren’t trying to grow an empire but are striving to be the healing body of Christ within the world, then now is the time of great faith. It’s time to step up and step into an embodied ministry and not just an ideological one. May you work in such a way that the world will take notice and rethink their conclusions about the faith.
As the entire world shuts down, may we turn our social distance into a new monastic contemplation. As you do, bless you and may peace come to you all. May the love of God meet and sustain us all during this difficult and uncertain time.