In recent meetings talking about the first topic that every meeting starts with – COVID 19, “The Rona”, a co-worker said that I always look a little giddy, with a smile on my face. I felt embarrassed and a little apologetic. But, she was also right. She explained that she knew it was because I was seeing what was possible. She was right about that, too. There is always opportunity in the dilema, new solutions to new problems, creativity in chaos, medicine in the poison, all just waiting for us to see it. That’s not me being hopeful, I think that’s just how it is.
A pandemic can happen at any point in time and is not necessarily the work or fault of an extractive system. But extractive systems are poor to react because the work to care for each other and the safety nets to catch each other have fallen to the wayside because there was not enough profit to be had there. That caregiving work and those safety nets may be important to those of you reading this, but are not that important to shareholders pursuing wealth. Our politicians seem to have decided they aren’t important either.
For example I think all people, regardless of anything, should have access to clean water, healthy food, a roof over their heads, access to healthcare and electricity just to start. We live on an incredibly abundant planet and have enough for everyone. Yet, our scarcity mindset tells us there isn’t enough. Our pursuit of endless growth has us hoarding resources to forever feed the beast.
I think most of us want things to be different. Many of us want transition if it is just. Especially those of us who don’t count our worth in words that end in “illions”. But we struggle with even imaging it. We can’t find the time and space to breathe. Well, we just managed to hit the collective pause button. We couldn’t do it by choice, and it will hurt. Like pulling the emergency brake on some kind of super locomotive. And the fallout won’t be equitably shared. The wealthy have plush first class seats, with all the fancy protections. The poor weren’t given seats at all. Most of us are somewhere in between. And yet, this pause button is hitting us all. All over the globe.
The most likely scenario is that when it is all said and done, we will find a way to return to “normal”. That is unfortunate to me. Normal wasn’t so great. But normal was a known and our greatest fear is of the unknown. This pause button is a chance to get comfortable with the unknown as best as we can. Invite it in. The fear and anxiety of not knowing and then sitting with it and seeing that our fears and anxieties don’t exist in the unknown, they exist in us. And then maybe we can venture a little further into the unknown.
I want an unknown future for my kids, for all of us. I want change so big that we can’t even conceive of what it will look like. Because even our imaginations are limited by our fears and the familiar. I know the transition will be painful. I think it can be just if we equitably share the pain as opposed to avoiding it, which would invariably result in something that is unjust.
We have to make everything we can of this pause. Pausing ourselves to examine what is inside of us and how we push away fears or embrace fears, how we judge ourselves or how we judge others, how we hide or show up, and how we define “self” and how we will work to expand that definition of self to include all life. That’s making use of the pause and turning poison into medicine.