We have all been bombarded the last couple of weeks with lots of information regarding the epidemic of the coronavirus.
My intention here is not to repeat any of this information, but try to add a few thoughts to the mix that are relevant for the management and response to the situation.
I feel I have sufficiently written about how everything that happens to us can be given a meaning by us and, thus, to be placed and integrated within as new information which will complete our experience of life.
The occurrence of the virus in such a large scale and its consequences have evoked some common feelings among people. Fear and anxiety of one's life, the unknown and what is yet to come, anger that this is happening and all the restrictions and disturbances that has brought with it, sadness for all that is lost, depression and despair for what is not within our control, shock and surprise of how sudden it occurred and how vulnerable we are proven to be and so on.
This is only an indicative list of many feelings that one can feel for such large scale occurrence. I think we all feel on some level that it is a movie like scenario where anything can happen and that is scary.
Such thing has not happened for a very long time and it has taken everyone by surprise. No one expected that it will expand so vastly, so quickly. What started as an 'asian' thing, became a global 'crisis' with some serious consequences.
I want to focus mainly on two consequences that stand out for me: One is related to health and the other to finances. I approach both of them as always from the perspective of learning and growing.
Whenever we fall ill or there is a threat of falling ill, we are reminded of how vulnerable we are and our mortality.
We have taken for granted our good life (at least in the West) and we have forgotten that our physicality is bound to be destroyed and that can happen at anytime.
We got used to manipulating our flesh (surgeries, medication, cosmetic interventions etc) that we often forget that this same flesh is potentially under threat from very tiny things such as a virus or a mosquito.
Being in flesh, means being susceptible to the conditions of the flesh; we are bound to work with nature- that is other animals, the environment, the weather etc- in order to remain alive and continue living a meaningful life.
Farmers know this best as when the weather conditions change, their crop is affected and hence their production.
Production then takes me to the second observation, that of the financial situation.
It is remarkable to notice the financial consequences that have started and are yet to worsen as a result of the measures that the countries have taken to control the infections.
The whole financial web crumbles in front of a few weeks or a few months halt of the expenditure. Consequence which makes me think that we all live in a factory and if one department has problems, then the whole factory is affected suffering consequences that will try to minimise.
It was really surprising to me to realise through the virus how interrelated our economies are; travelling, tourism and hospitality are only some basic sectors that are being affected. It is even more weird to me that as humanity we have agreed to be each other's financial partners, but not neighbourhood friends. It is like we see part of the person, the one that suits us and not the whole.
It is ok to value each other as consumers on financial terms, but seems less important to value each other as human beings, you see this is not a commodity, but mainly a reason to waste tax payers' money in hospitals that themselves do not produce more money. Within that system the whole health and social care are burdens that need to minimise their spending, like a poor relative.
Without wanting to simplify things, from my point of view the problem is simple and clear: we are devoted to an artificial system and as such it was destined to fail us. When money was first used, it was representing a value, it was only a representation, not a real thing, an invented thing, a mediator to serve a specific purpose. Power and values were way more important on those days as a source of meaning.
Money encompassing meaning turned it into the best drug; everybody threw themselves into the battle of money making in order to gain that pleasurable feeling of acquisition. 'I own, therefore I exist' Descartes would probably say today. We became obsessed with owning things, they became the meaning themselves and all of a (well built) sudden, our life shrunk into materialism and we forgot about values, humanity, god, soul, after life; we care about the instant gratification of the here and now.
Most certainly, I do not imply that we should avoid pleasures and live without material goods in favour of an upcoming paradise, but my sense is that we are experiencing a deep moral and values' crisis.
I believe that the primary drive of a human being is meaning. We choose and do something because it is important to us. We go to a repetitive work every day because we want to feed our families; we eat things because we like their taste; we choose to do specific activities because they feel good; we even choose jobs that one way or another contribute to the societal web that we are part of. I believe that it is in our nature to want to contribute towards a whole; I think we deeply know that we are part of a whole and that is creation. Every whole in order to be whole contains all the opposites, thus, it is also within our nature to distort things and consider everything as a potential threat, something that humanity has been struggling with for centuries.
It is possible the eternal battle of love and fear. If we surrender to the feeling of fear without perspective, then we lose sight that the fear is actual not an enemy but another way to know that we love something. We fear for our lives because we actually care about them; we fear the unknown because we want to exist in the certainty, we fear the different other because we want to continue have the same sense of self. All the attachments for what is important for us are there.
Once we understand what the fears are about, then we can respond to them in an adult way in accordance with our higher values.
I have seen it over and over again working closely with people that despite the pain that they might have been through as children, they still love their family and they want to make peace with it. Observation which makes me think that there are a higher lessons and values hidden behind specific personal stories.
It is exactly the contrary feeling that our current system is build upon and requires from us. In this system we all need to keep 'fighting' with each other in order to get a better life.
Does it have to be that way? Could there be another way to live a creatively free, yet self regulated, humanity serving life without the self imposed slavery of money?
We are so rich today, choosing and throwing food away, having luxurious cars and apartments, exotic holidays and so on. At the same time we are so poor selling weapons for other people to be killed, allow ing children to drown in shores, torturing people of different beliefs, being irresponsible and putting people in danger, deciding who is to live and die, who is to get educated and who not etc
With all confidence I can say that god and devil live both within us and until we get them to talk to each other and start working together, then we will continue to be split and deeply lost.
Occasions like the spread of such virus, constitute an opportunity for us in the face of grief and loss, to review what is important to us. Regardless whether the virus escaped from a lab, was intentionally spread or was transferred by animals, the call for me is the same: away from the distractions, to look within.
I urge everyone while you are sitting comfortably at your homes these days, to use this void to reflect, write down and talk to each other about your values, 'what is important to you in your lives?', 'how content and aligned you feel with your values?', 'how do you imagine a content life to look like?, 'Is there anything you can do to get closer to that life?'.
Some people will make use of this opportunity and do something with it, some people will stay almost the same; both are valid choices and both groups will continue to co exist the very next day with or without consensus of their values.
No one, though, can stop me from dreaming and working towards being surrounded by light and peaceful souls that will live a life full of freedom, grace, gratitude and sacredness; and these can not be bought out.