“Everything has value and purpose. Every moment is a synchronicity.”
- my sankalpa*
What is the possible value and purpose of the current novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic?
- The pandemic is bringing the entire world together in a shorter period of time than anything has ever done before. Governments everywhere are taking precautions and cooperating, to varying degrees, against a shared “enemy”, as they seek to contain the now global outbreak of the Covid-19 virus. They are also struggling to figure out how to manage its economic and social impacts, and are actively looking to see what may or may not be working around the globe.
- The pandemic is expanding the global consciousness of individuals. Because of the global brain (aka the “Internet”) people everywhere are sharing in the unfolding of the pandemic and its impacts, including the hysteria of fear. This is creating a shared human experience that has the potential to transcends cultural differences and increase empathy and understanding. This can only be a positive benefit for global connections, oneness, and consciousness.
- The pandemic is helping humans to better understand their place on the planet. Human exceptionalism makes us think that they can control or manage the entire planet. This pandemic event is humbling and reminds us that the greater world we live in (Gaia) is much more creative and diverse than we can really know. Gaia can and will dish up new surprises that will humble us and help us to see that we are just one part of a shared larger project that is the whole planet Earth.
- The pandemic is helping us to understand that what is good for the Earth might not seem to be good for some human activities. This is related the #3. The virus is currently a mostly human problem, and the planet overall seems to be healthier because of the steep reduction in carbon emissions and environmental pollution that are accompanying the reductions in travel and the home quarantine of workers.
- The pandemic is forcing people to stretch their thinking and planning horizons and self responsibility. (1) People’s livelihoods are likely to be reduced substantially in the short term, and so they need to plan for that. (2) When their livelihoods will recover and how they will look upon recovery is not yet possible to predict, which requires a flexible and open approach to life. (3) All of this self reflection is making people reassess what is most important in life, with perhaps a new appreciation of simpler, quieter and less consumption oriented lifestyles.
- The pandemic is creating a more resilient people and societies. This is related to #5. The question that everyone is pondering, after they read the latest corona virus news, is what can I best do now to be prepared for the impending downturn in my sustenance. This is called resilience planning, and is key concept in sustainability thinking. It is something that everyone should always be doing, but few actually do in a social and economic system that seems to reward short term behavior over long term planning. Disasters also have the potential to enhance social cohesion as people support one another through their shared experience.
- The pandemic is making us less dependent on globalization and mass consumerism, and maybe more sustainable. Many companies are likely to not survive the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic. Those that do will likely need to adjust their product lines to (1) be more resilient to future pandemics that health experts only expect to increase; and (2) adapt what they offer to a possible permanent change in consumer interests, including demands for sustainable products and climate change actions.
I am sure that there are other positive impacts that can potentially emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as it seems to bring more surprises with each passing day.
While these benefits are clearly positive, getting to them will not necessarily be easy. Powerful change is never easy. The challenges of this pandemic have the potential to impact today’s generation in the same way that The Great Depression (1929–1939) affected the people who went through that difficult time.
However, we can keep a more hopeful viewpoint by being humble and open to considering that there is something else going on in our world today, something that is just beyond our human awareness. That something is an intelligent and intentional global ordering called “Gaia” by James Lovelock, and “Mother Earth” by many others.
Humans are as much a part of Mother Earth/Gaia as are the plants, the seas, and minerals. And the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is also a natural part of this planet. We need to take this opportunity to listen and learn what our larger planet-self is trying to tell us. Until we do that, we are likely to just experience disaster and crisis after disaster and crisis well into the future.
* Wikipedia: Sankalpa (Sanskrit: सङ्कल्प) is an intention formed by the heart and mind — a solemn vow, determination, or will.