Nothing in recent decades has been quite like the wake-up call we’ve been hearing recently. Coronavirus brought the world to a virtual standstill and it’s effects are still ongoing.
Prior to the pandemic, around the world people have been dying in wars, from hunger and disease, from abuse, from people trafficking and modern forms of slavery. They have also been dying from depression, drug overdoses and suicide. In addition we have been losing species at an alarming rate and the planet itself is dying. And yet, we were not paying sufficient attention.
Coronavirus has given us an almighty jolt. Our way of life has changed and we are unlikely to be returning to the old ways of living. Ultimately there may be a vaccine, but there will likely be other viruses to emerge since the planet is out of balance. Lockdown has resulted in some improvements to the environment with very few planes in the sky, ships on the seas, cars on the roads, and factories closed. Many people have rediscovered simple pleasures and have had more time to reconnect with nature. Right now they are reassessing their priorities, looking at what really matters in life.
For others the virus has brought grief for those they have lost and the sad manner is which their loved ones have been dying. Anxiety and fear are constant companions for many - they’re afraid to engage with the world again, or they’re fearful of losing their job, or of not being able to feed their families. The future looks so uncertain, and if there’s one thing we humans crave, it’s certainty.
The pandemic has also intensified the sense of injustice in the world, because not everyone has been affected in the same way. Every day attitudes are hardening and there are calls for change. Over the last few decades we’ve had wave after wave of protest - calls for environmental change, civil rights protests, feminist and LGBT marches and campaigns. The world-wide Black Lives Matter protests since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis have added to this crescendo of voices calling for change.
There will undoubtedly be more protests and social unrest to come as the economic impact of the pandemic and Lockdown unfolds, with polarisation to both left and right, and the potential for ugly violence in its wake. People everywhere are fed up, angry, despairing of our institutions and political leaders. The whole political and economic and social fabric of our society is under attack.
How can we solve all these crises? Not with violence for sure. Violence only leads to more violence, though when people feel a sense of inequality and injustice and become frustrated and angry, it’s understandable. Sadly there are also those who want to use violence for their own ends. The only way forward is with peaceful campaigns and protests, with dialogue and real listening, and examination of our own attitudes and behaviours.
We’re all wounded to a greater or lesser extent in some way. Conditioning runs deep, and therefore we have to look more deeply at ourselves and try to understand the hurt and grievances of others rather than passing judgment. We have to try to walk in someone else’s moccasins. In these dark and dangerous times we cannot afford to get caught up in the anxiety and fear that prevail. We have to try to manifest calm and peace, keeping our hearts open.
Despair achieves nothing in itself, though it is an indication of feeling deeply the tragedies we’re in the midst of. We can choose however to hang on to the hope that there can be a better world for all - for us, for future generations, for all forms of life on the planet. We can achieve this by coming together in our communities and co-operating with each other, not by seeing ourselves as separate, but through understanding that we are all part of the same whole. Only with a revolution in consciousness that promotes tolerance, respect and love for others can we succeed in solving the enormous challenges we face.