Living in the midst of a global pandemic is not something any of us had on our bucket list. It is frightening, overwhelming, and humbling. We forget, until times like this, that there are so many things that are larger than any one of us, things that no single human can control on her own. And this realization can be alarming. Our lives have already changed in ways we can’t yet comprehend. While I’m not qualified to offer any “real” perspectives on this global challenge, as a human, I am in awe of the humanity, dignity and strength of those selflessly fighting to preserve the health and safety of the rest of us. There is no better sign of the importance of community than to see so many doing this selfless work with the sole mission of saving all of us.
In the face of fear and isolation, from the closing of borders all over the world to the shelter in place orders and governments bickering about how to stem the harm, I’ve been worried that we will lose sight of the only thing that can get us through this and so many other challenges — our reliance on community. I’ve been worried that we will begin to face inward — like protectionism of the old days. But over the last couple weeks, what I’ve found is that despite the fear and ‘social distancing’, many of us are turning outwards, supporting our communities by chipping in extra at local restaurants, going grocery shopping for elderly neighbors, and donating masks, supplies, and food to overwhelmed hospitals and healthcare workers. I’ve also seen the growth of virtual communities as support mechanisms, and people flexing new muscles to create connections. This challenge allows us to see the impacts we have on one another on a global basis — particularly as we “shelter in place” to not necessarily protect ourselves, but rather to protect those around us. It’s also caused many of us to see our communities in new ways and recognize they go beyond borders.
On a small scale, I apply this to our work at the Stellar Development Foundation. We talk about the Stellar community and the Stellar ecosystem — we recognize our role in both, and how important it is to support their growth. And, during this time when turning inward and seeking protection seems like an easier path, I remind myself everyday that our work at SDF in isolation has no value. We cannot on our own create a network — that takes all of us, the entire Stellar ecosystem working together. We cannot on our own create a borderless world for payments — that takes all of us working together. And, we cannot on our own realize the true value that blockchain technology has to offer to the financial system — that also takes all of us working together. For Stellar to be successful, entities that aren’t currently connected must find ways to be connected as networks create network effects. At SDF, we are not only grateful that we can continue to do our work, we remember to say outloud to one another that we are grateful that we have so many others that are in this with us. We will be creating even more opportunities in the days and weeks ahead for us to engage and support each other.
We are in serious and even unimaginable times. Unlike so many others, at SDF we can do our work remotely — and many already did even prior to today’s lockdown. We can get our work done and maintain some sort of order in our lives. I recognize that there are many in the world who cannot. We are fortunate to have some stability during this uncertain time and one thing is sure, we are not going to take this ‘gift’ for granted. At SDF, we are committed to using this ‘gift’ to achieve our mission, which today starts by supporting our Stellar community so that tomorrow we can more broadly support the world — not for ourselves but for the many that it can help in the future. Because finding ways to connect our world, encourage collaboration, create accessible and affordable access to the financial system is more important than ever. The global pandemic is awful and horrific and terrifying, but humans, and the strength of the many, the resiliency of community will propel not just our own work, but the work required to learn from this global challenge.