Updated: Mar 25, 2020
The other day I was speaking with a woman who told me that she was “excited” about the positive changes the coronavirus was already ushering in. She went on to express the hope that a new world order based on love would replace current systems based on corruption and greed. After she spoke these words, I realized that I’d seen a lot of similar comments on social media lately. In many ways, I couldn’t agree more with such remarks. But there are two sides to this coin, and to ignore one in favor of the other is socially irresponsible. There are many aspects of our current way of life that are enormously destructive to both human beings and the planet herself. As COVID-19 brings us to our knees, a giant searchlight is illuminating our dysfunctional ways. Yes, it is quite possible that life as we know it will cease to exist, and that we will be witnesses to the dissolution of many of our entrenched structures and ways of doing things; ineffectual political, financial, environmental, and health systems that fail to serve all people will be exposed for the corrupt structures that they are. What is exciting about the changes that COVID-19 might bring about has less to do with the dissolution of current systems of unjust power than with the possibilities for the humane, just, and sustainable structures that could replace them. Now, more than ever, we can envision a world in which all people have a voice, access to affordable healthcare, and the means to enjoy a good quality of life—a world in which the planet is treated with the reverence and respect that it deserves. We can hope that a new world order will arise from the hardship and destruction that COVID-19 will leave in its wake. One that is kinder and more loving. One in which we recognize that we really are all one. One that creates the possibility for a sustainable life for everyone. I fully believe that this transformation will indeed come about, and therefore I can support the statement, “It will all be okay,” which I keep seeing on social media. Yes, it will. In time. Perhaps a great deal of time. It will all be okay. Our lives will have changed irrevocably but things will be okay. Right now, however, things are definitely not okay. People are dying all around the world, and experts anticipate that many more will do so before this scourge has run its course. Moreover, many more people will be subjected to financial insecurity, which will most likely result in further large-scale suffering. To focus only on being “excited” about the good that will result from this crisis and to minimize or ignore the fear and the anguish that the pandemic engenders is nothing less than spiritual bypassing. We are, after all, spiritual beings who are having a human experience. We might believe that at our core we are beings of light and love and that this dissolving of the old and ushering in of the new is in line with the evolution of consciousness on this planet. But to believe this without being firmly grounded in awareness of the widespread anguish and suffering that will result from COVID-19 is distressingly insensitive. Millions of people’s lives will be turned upside down before this virus ceases to be a threat. As spiritual seekers, we need to balance the contradiction of living with fear, anxiety, and suffering while simultaneously acknowledging that a better future is being ushered in. The crisis occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic invites us to feel fear (both of the virus and the dissolution of old ways of being) and simultaneously embrace the belief that a new and better world is coming. When we can accept the duality of fear and hope, we will be able to stay grounded, which will allow us to respond to what lies before us with love and compassion.
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