Influence in the midst of a pandemic
This pandemic is an opportunity for personal and systemic transformation. Because of the wide sweeping effects of this pandemic, how we choose to relate to it will have profound effects on what our future looks like.
My way of coping with a crisis is to read about crisis. My brother says I should really lighten up. He’s right. And still, I am finding refuge and inspiration in my readings about how we have contributed at different times in history to harming our social, political and environmental fabric. What has inspired me is to know, like never before, that our choices right now can make a big difference to our individual and collective future. We have influence, let’s use it.
What I have learned through my doom and gloom readings is that the Greek root of the word crisis is krisis which means decision. This hit home for me. The situation we find ourselves in is asking us to make purposeful and selfless decisions. Life is always calling on us to make decisions, but the decision we make today has enormous influence.
The decision we are all faced with is how we choose to relate to this public health (care) crisis which is having effects on so many facets of our lives and so much more: the economy, the educational system, family systems, work systems and so much more.
We have no control over the virus. However, we still have the power of choice. We always had and always will. How we choose to show up and act every single day, especially during such a situation, influences our short and long-term future, personally and collectively. Jonathan Safran Foer, the author of We are the Weather, poses a question that is equally pertinent to our current situation:
Do we choose for suicide or do we choose for sacrifice?
Crisis means decision, and decision derives from the latin decidere, which means “to cut off.” Deciding, making a choice always involves a sacrifice of some sort. As Froer points out, every decision requires loss. We need to close one door in order to allow another one to open.
What’s the current “cut off”? On one level, we are being asked to change our way of life for a few months (at least for now). It may not be easy and we may not like it, but you have probably noticed how adaptable we are. Let’s not also forget how privileged many of us are, even during this time of uncertainty and loss. Think of those living in countries without health systems or good governance; living in overcrowded slums with no sanitary conditions; refugees, displaced persons, the homeless or those living with domestic violence.
Froer reminds us that “future generations will look back at this time in history and ask what decisions did this crisis inspire?” This situation is an invitation to take a good look at ourselves and also to open up to what is important to us and how we wish to move forward once this is over. Do we want things to go back to business as usual? How did our way of being and doing perhaps contribute to the tragedy we find ourselves in? Did our best even just a few weeks ago contribute to a healthy and balanced world? How so and how not? Perhaps you are already noticing what useful lessons or good (small or big) have come from this tragic situation?
Otto Scharmer, co-founder of the Presencing Institute, suggests eight emerging lessons that are emerging from COVID-19, here are a few of them:
- If the corona virus crisis has brought home anything, it’s that we — each of us, separately and together — can change the system. Your behavior changes the system and mindful behavior is needed to avoid a breakdown of the system.
- When we face disruption, in order to find solutions, we need to change our collective behavior. We need to be willing to be flexible and creative separate and together. We need to be willing to take a pause, even in times of great urgency, to take a honest look at reality and based on that be willing to change what we can in service of the health and balance of ourselves, our families, organizations, communities and the overall greater good.
- The future we will generate depends on the inner place form which we operate individually and collectively.
We can no longer go about our lives as if they were only ours to live.
The decisions we make now and how we choose to relate to this situation will create a future that might not be able to be undone.
This an opportunity to be the future you want to have. To make a footprint in your family, communities or more broadly.
Sometimes we need a great big shock like this crisis to remind ourselves that how we choose to be in the world matters more than we are sometimes willing to understand.
Take a moment, if you like, and ask yourself:
What am I noticing about my inner response to the pandemic right now? How is my inner state?
What do I sense needs to be let go of?
What do I sense wants to come?