We are currently living in a unique time. A pandemic has loosened “business as usual” and all bets are off because the novel coronavirus is a new virus, more contagious than other infectious diseases with vaccines at least one year away. This challenge will be with us for awhile.
Many people point to a silver lining as a way to cope and that is not bad; however in this case, it appears that something more serious and more substantial is going on. The more we can understand the bigger picture the better our chances of navigating our efforts at navigating our energies constructively. For sensitive people who feel the pain of the world deeply it is important to be honest about what is happening and then finding a purpose that helps us support our own health especially our mental health and also be compassionate as we navigate big changes in our world.
The Pandemic Is Serious
A very recent article in the Atlantic by Ed Yong, How The Pandemic Will End provides a great overview of our options and the possible pathways during and through this pandemic .
Even a perfect response won’t end the pandemic. As long as the virus persists somewhere, there’s a chance that one infected traveler will reignite fresh sparks in countries that have already extinguished their fires. This is already happening in China, Singapore, and other Asian countries that briefly seemed to have the virus under control. Under these conditions, there are three possible endgames: one that’s very unlikely, one that’s very dangerous, and one that’s very long.
The first is that every nation manages to simultaneously bring the virus to heel, as with the original SARS in 2003. Given how widespread the coronavirus pandemic is, and how badly many countries are faring, the odds of worldwide synchronous control seem vanishingly small.
The second is that the virus does what past flu pandemics have done: It burns through the world and leaves behind enough immune survivors that it eventually struggles to find viable hosts. This “herd immunity” scenario would be quick, and thus tempting. But it would also come at a terrible cost: SARS-CoV-2 is more transmissible and fatal than the flu, and it would likely leave behind many millions of corpses and a trail of devastated health systems. The United Kingdom initially seemed to consider this herd-immunity strategy, before backtracking when models revealed the dire consequences. The U.S. now seems to be considering it too.
The third scenario is that the world plays a protracted game of whack-a-mole with the virus, stamping out outbreaks here and there until a vaccine can be produced. This is the best option, but also the longest and most complicated.
It depends, for a start, on making a vaccine. If this were a flu pandemic, that would be easier. The world is experienced at making flu vaccines and does so every year. But there are no existing vaccines for coronaviruses—until now, these viruses seemed to cause diseases that were mild or rare—so researchers must start from scratch.
So it is likely that this pandemic will be with us for some time. There are definitely steps you can take as a sensitive person to manage the short term issues around self care. Many are enjoying the space provided by a quieter economy. The lower economic intensity is welcome, although the intensity around the pandemic is hard to handle. This is a good time to simplify life as much as possible and to take some time for reflection.
The Shift In Process
The pandemic has actually been anticipated for some time by epidemiologists and public health officials as the article points out. However, we live in a cultural system where resources go to support and maintain economic growth, which is a system based on high demand and a fragile internationally dispersed economic system which is necessary to create the profits that the financial system and shareholders demand. Its high resource consumption and structural fragility have been unsustainable for many decades.
Now we are being forced to change. This change is not bad, it is necessary. However it will not be without cost and pain. it is valuable in times of great stress to have a why to quiet the mind especially for sensitive people.
All cultures, unbeknownst to many people, have a lifecycle. They com into being to solve a serious problem in reality. This important to understand. Survival is the key driver of our cultural efforts, and as our survival needs change we change our cultural system to meet the survival need.
We are currently at that important crossroad again where our current capitalist system has successfully served its purpose of elevating human living conditions but has created environmental and social side effects that must be addressed. Capitalism is a highly individualistic system, and does not recognize the environment and social inequality as relevant to its materialism project. Most cultures do not recognize the side effects of their activities and since they were created to answer a survival need, do not see anything wrong with what they are doing. So for those attached to the system, the need for change can feel like a shock or even an ungrateful insult.
The Pandemic Leads To A Huge Rethink
Cultural systems alternate between individualistic and communal ones according to Spiral Dynamics, the science of cultural systems. That means our new system will be communal and we can already see efforts underway to create that shift. In fact, this change has been going on for some time, even hundreds of years, with many efforts like: Shareable, Transition Towns, local food systems, Slow Money, and movements for social equity.
So although we may feel like the rug is being pulled out from under them, in fact it is the effort to create a new communal and sharing culture has been developed to the point that it can act as a safety net if we welcome the change.
At Sensitive Evolution we work on the questions raised by these changes as one of the most important things we do. You can visit this link to our page, Shift, so you can access some of the websites of the organizations mentioned here to familiarize yourself with what has already been created. You can also visit our community to learn more how we are working on these issues. Called The Emerging Sensitive Movie Club, we work with courses, articles, movies and calls to discuss the issues we are grappling with to move into a new cultural that suits sensitive people better that the current one. We have just created a Transition Lab to facilitate moving into this new cultural system, I call it the Caring Cultural and it will be a time where health and healing of people and earth will be our top priorities.
There is hope. Take time to contemplate where you would like to contribute and you will find that this time brings hope for you and others.