We are time travelers. Drifting along time and space, we shape our future with every present moment.
Our memories of how we respond to this moment, as individuals, as societies and as a species, matters a great deal. It is the same for any species when threatened. No matter ape, bird or bacteria, these events force a change in behavior. Bad things happen to species that don’t remember and don’t adapt accordingly.
So, what should we do in this moment? What is the appropriate response?
To start, we must be able to see this for what it is. To as best we can, objectively view the information we have and be ready to face the worse. That is that soon, people you know will start getting sick, you yourself may as well. Then people you know will start dying. There is no ignoring that, it is the reason for everything else we must now do.
Take the time to feel the threat, fear can be useful. The biggest obstacle we face is our own complacency. Each of us must do everything possible to stop this spread. Only go out when absolutely necessary and wash your fucking hands. We must avoid the worst possible scenario.
What comes next no one knows. Life for us all will change. This is unlike any other moment we have ever faced. But there are lessons to be learned when we look to the past. Guidance that can help us along and build a better world when the dust settles. I can not claim to know precisely how we should react, but I”d suggest the following…
One, do not cast blame. Do not worry about whose fault this is and do not dwell on things outside of your control. Think productively. What needs to be done next?
Two, in the days, weeks and months to come, many of us will spend a lot of our time bored and anxious. Plan now to do something productive with all that time. Develop a skill, pick up a new hobby, and do what you can to help your community. Also, think carefully about the skills you have, the networks you are in, and how they might be useful to others. Reach out and offer them up. Work for humanity now. The pay is shit, but the benefits are to die for.
Three, do not think we will or should simply go back to the way things were. These events have a way of changing everything. Besides, our previous era, shaped predominantly by capital markets and various forms of the nation-stare, was never going to be a permanent state of affairs. It brought us prosperity and times of peace, but also tremendous inequality, environmental degradation, and of course, this moment we now face. There are other ways of organizing civilization that we have yet to explore. We can and should try to do better.
If we take this as an opportunity to build a better tomorrow, then maybe, just maybe, we might one day look back on this time and remember it is as our greatest moment.
Featured image source: From the Daoism collection at The MET
“Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.”