In the midst of this total breakdown, we are beginning to see great potential for a new world order to emerge. A world where the values of cooperation, caring, compassion, co-creation and co-evolution are trumping competition, selfishness, judgment, blame and siloed work.
Below are a few of the most precious lessons I feel COVID-19 is bringing to us. I invite you to share your own. It would be great to start a collective sharing that would help us see the multitude of perspectives and experiences people around the world are perceiving. If you choose to participate, please cut, paste these and add yours to the end of the list. Let’s learn from each other.
1. I love you! Let the people in your life know you love them; it may be your last chance.
COVID-19 takes away our loved ones in the saddest way — they die all alone, often with no opportunity for us to say goodbye. No one wants to think that their loved one is going to die when calling 911 or taking them to the emergency room. Yet, if they test positive and their symptoms are severe, it may be the last time you see them. PAUSE before calling 911 or before entering the emergency room and tell your loved one what s/he means to you. I know you may not want to go there, but better for you to share this tender moment with each other now, then live in regret that you didn’t say all the things you wanted your loved one to hear and feel.
Never take each other for granted. We never know what life brings or takes away.
2. Physical presence matters.
Computers, internet, smart phones have been at the center of our lives for the past two decades. Our attachment to them has gradually replaced our connection with each other. We could be sitting in the same room, same restaurant, or attending an event with others, while texting, talking on the phone or posting photos on FB or Instagram. The irony is that we often use these devices to connect with people, while ignoring those we are physically with at the moment. Social media and smart phones have their practical value, especially now when we have no other way to stay connected, but our pervasive reliance on them for almost all forms of communication have become a substitute for true intimacy and friendship. No wonder so many of us are feeling depressed, anxious, lonely and disconnected.
Let’s listen, feel, connect and relate to each other in person and use these tools sparingly.
3. We care about each other!
This virus has shown us our capacity to care for “strangers.” The extraordinary outpouring of love and generosity toward our healthcare and service workers comes from the deepest part of our souls. In the face of great pain and fear, we experience their heroic determination to do whatever is needed to provide communities with the necessary aide. They remind and inspire us to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zones and show our love and care for them. Whether we mobilize to provide them with the necessary PPEs, cook meals for them or just acknowledge them via clapping or tipping, our appreciation and gratitude arises from who we truly are — caring and loving creatures.
Let’s remember that no matter our cultural, religious, racial, and political differences, when one of us hurts, all of us hurt. We are one human family living on this one precious planet.
4. PAUSE to listen to what really matters to us.
Let’s stop doing, fixing, buying, chasing “likes,” and sit quietly so that we can catch up with ourselves. Our pursuit of material wealth and accolades is depriving us of investing quality time with our ourselves and loved ones. Relationships are what we really care about; who we touch and the contributions we make to people’s hearts, minds, and lives. People on their deathbeds don’t regret not buying that expensive watch or how many likes they got on Facebook; they wish they had spent more time with their families and friends. COVID-19 is gifting us with a PAUSE and giving us the opportunity to stop, reflect and slowly connect to our true priorities.
Don’t let others dictate your life for you. Find what is true and important to you, and choose to invest your time, energy, skills and resources accordingly.
5. We are interdependent.
COVID-19 is showing us how deeply connected our global community is. This virus began only a few months ago with one person in China; it’s now in every country in the world. If we examine the manner of transmission — breathing/speaking closely to each other, touching things touched by others and then putting our hands to our faces — it’s clear that we are constantly in contact with each other’s air, fluids and cells. The only way we can protect ourselves right now is by staying away from each other. As we pull away from each other, we begin to experience our interdependence on a whole new level as our way of life as we know it come to a halt. The important lesson here is that to varying degrees we are all suffering the consequences of our separation. We can no longer deny and live as if we are independent. At the same time, our interdependence brings the capacity to heal each other. Our best medicine right now is treatment with plasma donated from people who beat the virus and developed the antibodies. We are all in this together!
Appreciating all the ways in which we depend on each other and enrich each other’s lives will promote a whole new level of respect and dignity for us all.