Covid 19 – The Ripple Effect of Words and Actions
1st April, 2020
I’m not the first to say we are amidst turbulent times with many people seriously ill, grieving or fearful for their wellbeing – physical and emotional… and yes economic health too.
Whilst these times are for many deeply distressing I am in awe of the resilience being displayed – businesses learning to be truly creative and collaborative; communities leading from a place of compassion, a move from “me” orientation to “we” orientation. It is true we have seen a contrast to this in the initial fear driven hoarding mentality of some and a self-centred lack of compliance with government advice in others… and yet the gravity of our current circumstances distills this focus upon self-preservation and self-gratification into, I believe, and evolved and much wiser desire to promote collective health.
A re-evaluation of the respect due to the real key workers within society has, I sense, encouraged reflection upon the ripple effect of our actions… and at the very least provided a realization that there IS a ripple effect.
It is my hope that compassion within our communities continues to flourish beyond adversity and that the reduction in carbon emissions we are seeing is noted (promoting change) and not lost amongst a desire to regain monetary wealth at pace. After all if Covid 19 teaches us anything, it is that we are a fragile ecosystem and that we are nothing without our health (and that includes the health of our ocean planet.)
It is unsurprising, to me, that so many people are craving time outdoors – something perhaps taken for granted previously. The level of conscious awareness that nature holds therapeutic value is rising sharply like a wave – an exponential curve and a shape we have become all too familiar with.
The impact of language has at times been less “considered” and I think we can do better. If you would like to help create new frames of reference – I have some terms and phrases that I would like to gently address below within our day-to-day conversations. Feel free to comment on other terms that you have heard with ideas on how we can ensure the language we use at this time (and ongoing) is “enabling”.
“Social distancing” can better be described as “Physical distancing”… Because let’s face it… for many we are if anything more socially connected than we have previously been… with old friends getting in touch through the use of digital technology facilitating checking ins to ensure we are ok. Don’t get me wrong – I am a hugger so these are tough times… that said:
For non key workers whilst we may well be less connected to the analogue world, screen time is at an all time high ensuring social connections are maintained. Our social media is filled with photographs of landscapes and beaches attempting to provide some visual respite and a way of maintaining a link to our environment when we cannot necessarily connect physically with it in the way we would like. People are sharing poetry and quotes, diving into the arts in a new way to inspire their minds, the result of slowing down.
And what of the key workers?… Slowing down they are not. Doing their very best to manage in the face of a lack of resources… this non-preparedness an indicator of a culture that often waits for crisis before action. As my good friend Dr Walace J Nichols says “when we undervalue anyone or anything – bad things happen”. And yet, I cannot imagine our health workers feel or desire to be “socially distanced” from their patients. In fact the compassion they are offering at a time when family are unable to be present requires them to be 100% socially connected… They DO however wish to be physically distanced… and for their safety it is essential they get required PPE – fast.
So social distancing and physical distancing are not one and the same thing.
How about isolating? How do you feel about that word? Do you find it warm and reassuring? Or would “shielding” be more helpful; a word that may suggest protection of self and others?
Lockdown is another loaded term; for some even now this term is encouraging ways of “breaking the rules” without really considering the wider implications of actions taken. It is almost as though people feel they are “beating the system” without realizing they ARE the system. A friend of mine Dr Bryan Mills once correctly said when I was interviewing him for some research “common sense doesn’t exist… one would hope at a minimum however for – professional judgment”. Of course this related to business, but essentially… whilst drastic measures were the necessary result of many ignoring government guidelines, the call really is for – “discernment and informed judgment” if we are going to consistently improve and maintain public health and support our key workers.
And finally for now as far as my thinking goes… Covid 19 is not a war to win or a battle to be fought. It is true that we find ourselves in crisis and much military procedure is appropriately: being adopted; deeply appreciated and of massive value.
And yet… if we refer to Covid 19 as an enemy to defeat rather than a virus… we disregard it as an indicator that we are one ecosystem and in doing so we potentially neglect the lessons that show how one part of a system impacts the rest of the system. We treat it in terms of win and lose … life and death, decalirng false triumph… rather than acknowledging the non-duality of all that is.
Contrast creates meaning and this is a wake up call to be mindful, and to question the impact of all words and actions. It is time to really pay attention. And over all be kind as these times have the potential to create a rise of compassion within us all.