I’m 44 years old and still remember how I felt on my 18th birthday.
I was free, independent and allowed to go wherever I wanted. Bars, pubs, night clubs, concerts, even leaving my country without getting permission from anybody.
It was a wonderful feeling!
Yet at the age of 18, I didn’t know how to enjoy life and didn’t have money to do everything I wanted to do. It took me time to achieve both maturity and economic freedom.
I’ve made many mistakes along the way. I had children when I wasn’t ready, made poor relationship choices, wasted opportunities and so on. I had to deal with my immature decisions and it cost me a lot of time.
Now, 26 years later, I’m finally ready to enjoy my freedom. But this freedom is being taken away from me and all of us.
Which plans and dreams have you had to give up or at least postpone because of the coronavirus? What is being taken away from you?
Our democracy is under attack. To make it worse, we can’t even see our enemies. The damn virus is invisible to our eyes!
It took less than four months for the coronavirus to turn our whole world upside down. Nobody was expecting that! The deaths it will cause should be enough tragedy for us to bear, but the damage will be much more profound.
The whole world we’ve created is at risk.
This beautiful shopping-based system called capitalism is skating on very thin ice right now.
But let’s be honest. For a long time, we’ve had issues with the capitalist system and globalization. Even contemporary capitalist thinkers such as Jordan Peterson describe capitalism as “the worst system we have, except for all the others”. Now, this system is being put in check not by us but by a virus.
For how long can the global economy survive the coronavirus?
For how long can our companies afford to stop?
For how long can we, the people, afford to stay at home?
Is our entire system collapsing?
What awaits us on the horizon?
Our world won’t be the same after the coronavirus, but to be honest, our future lies much more in our hands than with the virus. It’s not the time for trying to predict our future. It’s time for action. But before acting, we must understand the kind of future we’re creating in this present moment.
What can coronavirus teach us, besides the importance of ventilators, masks and alcohol gel?
Such analysis is fundamental since the virus is threatening not only our lives but the whole global socio-economic system.
Considering how our neoliberal politics have been leading us to the verge of an irreversible social and ecological catastrophe, maybe the virus can be our best chance of a cure.
So, let’s think through this apocalypse and explore some fundamental lessons to reframe our lives and guarantee our survival as a species.
1) Our socio-economic system is fragile
This gigantic machine made of industries, corporations and politicians only exists because we keep it alive.
We don’t keep it alive because we like it.
We hate it!
We’ve become a frustrated and angry society! We’re angry with life, angry with our leaders and angry with the system. Our frustration and anger have turned into despair. We’ve arrived at the point of electing the lowest class of tyrants to govern our countries simply because we’re full of despair and don’t know what to do anymore.
Yet we keep the system alive. We continue feeding it day after day. We do this because it’s safe. Because we don’t see alternatives. Because we are too afraid of risk. Because we feel powerless to break the chains that are keeping us enslaved to this capitalist system and find a different way to live our lives.
But suddenly an army of invisible creatures comes along and demolishes the whole thing, piece by piece. First, airlines, then hotels. Then, schools, theaters, restaurants and so on. Once we stop leaving home, a whole set of businesses start to fall like dominoes. Here we are, locked in our homes. But the minimum period required for developing a safe vaccine is 18 months. What will remain if we remain isolated for so long? What will we find outside after this period?
We can already notice the first signs of barbarism coming from fear: empty shelves at the supermarkets. What will happen when most of the population has no more jobs? When billions of people stop receiving their salaries and have no money for food? What if people can’t even pay for Netflix anymore? Can you imagine yourself locked at home with no food and no Netflix? Our society is already a powder barrel and once it explodes, we would prefer to live in Mad Max’s Thunderdome than in the 21st century.
I’m pretty sure we’re not going all the way down this direction. We’ll find solutions. Medicines, treatments, and ways to live with the virus. But it’s very important to see that our system is much more fragile than we thought. It can collapse.
We and the capitalist machine are interdependent. Although, there’s a difference between the machine and us: if we stop, the machine dies. But if the machine stops, we still survive.
Now we must decide between holding on to these old structures, defending them until our last breath, and jumping from this punctured boat to find more conscious, solidary and sustainable alternatives for our lives.
2) We spend most of our time doing superfluous things
We work much more than we need to just to keep the system alive. We love to think that what we do is very important. But what is essential? What happens when you’re locked at home, your professional services are no longer required, and you don’t know how to cook?
During the industrial revolution, the world was fed with massive propaganda to make the workers feel proud of themselves while performing their repetitive, miserable jobs. Two hundred and fifty years ago, our ancestors were operating gigantic machines, repeating the same task over and over, under slogans such as “your work means victory”.
We are a byproduct of that time. We keep feeding the same system, but the slogans don’t work anymore. Our progress became a threat to the planet.
The system we’ve created is consuming all of our planetary resources, including ourselves.
Of course, we are feeling empty and frustrated with this. Our progress doesn’t only consume and destroy our forests, rivers, and oceans. It also consumes us! But we don’t know how to stop. So, we keep performing our tasks while trying to anesthetize our pain.
“Ok, there’s no meaning in my life,” you may cry to yourself, “but I can make money, I can buy a super modern iPhone with a load of resources which I’ll never use plus a good camera, I can travel on holidays and with my iPhone I can photograph and post my holidays, showing the world how lucky I am, how amazing my life is! And I can find thousands of ways to be busy, so I don’t need to face my frustration and can repeat to myself ‘I am a busy person’ just to feed my frustrated ego with some sense of self-importance.”
When did we lose track?
Maybe it all began with the industrial revolution slogans. When our ancestors bought the dream of being part of something so amazing, worth abdicating their time and relegating their families, their personal lives and themselves to second place.
We’ve replaced our connection with the chain of life for our place in the productive chain. We became cogs in the capitalist machine. The machine got bigger, fat, greedy and sick. But, suddenly, the machine stopped, giving us the challenge and opportunity to redefine our meaning and identity.
Since we have no choice but to stay at home, we have the opportunity to cope with essential things such as spending time with our families, educating our children and cooking our food. We got back our most precious resource: our time. And time is precious. Of course, you can keep wasting your time on Facebook, Netflix, and Instagram (there will be more cats and fewer landscapes there, though). But you can also deaccelerate and connect with your inner rhythm.
Not having to hurry is a blessing!
It gives you space to connect with your emotions, look inside yourself and reevaluate your life.
Maybe it will be hard in the beginning. When you stop, you must face certain emotions you have been hiding from yourself. You will be challenged to make some decisions and realign your life. But you can end up making peace with yourself. And when the crisis ends, maybe you’ll be transformed to the point of not accepting your old life anymore.
As a species, we have created such amazing technologies but have sacrificed ourselves in the name of progress. Perhaps now it’s time to make progress work for us. We don’t need to hurry so much anymore. We can connect with the whole world from home. We can do the home office. We can even educate our children at home. We can have personal and collective gardens to grow our food. We can travel and have leisure, but without neglecting our relationship with ourselves and our families. We can live a balanced life. If may sound utopic. But our current scenery, which looks like a sci-fi horror movie, is teaching that it’s not only possible but perhaps the only choice we have.
3) Fear can damage us more than the virus
If you have stockpiled toilet paper, next time you are dropping a load please think of the 10 human beings who, thanks to you, are helpless with nothing else than their hands to wipe their asses.
It’s not fun to run out of toilet paper.
But it’s much worse to find no food at the supermarket and no medicine at the drugstore. And when you purchase 10 liters of alcohol gel, you are not contributing to stopping the virus. When you do that, you’ve become part of the disease.
It’s very important to understand what we’re doing at this moment. It’s such a noble collective effort!
We are prioritizing life over our status quo. We’re sacrificing our lifestyle and transforming our whole social system. But it will only work if we stick together (even isolated in our homes), aiming for this common goal. If we lose our sense of community, the plan not only will fail, but we will sink into social chaos, violence, and starvation. And it all starts with how many rolls of toilet paper you’re going to purchase today.
There are two attitudes we can take in the face of our fear:
One is to insulate ourselves inside a husk of greed and selfishness. We can get blind to the rest of the world, ignoring reason and acting in the most absurd and compulsive ways. When we feel fear, we tend to feel we are alone, and we must fight for our life at any cost. But this is a very dangerous path to take. We can become a threat to our collective. We can act in irrational ways and we can end up threatening our existence.
In moments of fear, we must remember that we’re not alone. We must rely on the collective and find cooperative ways to overcome the challenge. That’s how we have managed to thrive as species while facing the most dangerous beasts and adversities.
This is the second path we can take in the face of fear. We can stick together. We can think and act as a collective. It’s a paradoxical moment. For so long we’ve been surrounded by people but emotionally disconnected from them. Now, the situation requires us to quarantine and isolate ourselves as a collective action to protect our community.
This is our moment, our challenge and our opportunity. It will only work if we stick together in intention. One single virus does not harm. Their multiplicity does. One single infection means many viruses working together to thrive inside our bodies. Maybe the coronavirus can lead us away from the competitive society we have created so we can find our collective consciousness again. It’s up to us.
What can we do now?
Let’s not surrender to fear or negativity. Let’s not isolate ourselves from one other. Let’s take this moment to meditate and find our inner rhythm. To face our ghosts and make peace with ourselves. To reconsider our lifestyle. Let’s develop a better relationship with our mother, Gaya. Let’s use the technology we have created and construct a better reality. Our quarantine is a relief to our planet! More silence, less garbage, and much fewer carbon emissions.
Of course, we’re not going to spend the rest of our lives at home. But do we need to travel and to consume so much? Does it at least bring happiness or is it just a compulsive behavior?
Don’t waste this moment. Organize your inner life. Study yourself.
This virus that threatens our respiratory capacity demands us to slow down and get inside our cocoon, pausing to breathe. We were so accelerated! We were needing a pause for breath.
Meanwhile, our planet also is breathing, free of the pollution and depredation caused by our frenetic rhythm.
If you’re feeling suffocated at home, it’s time to reevaluate your choices. It’s time to pay attention to what you’ve been neglecting. If there’s no peace in your core and no harmony at your home, how can you make balanced and healthy choices in your life?
If you feel suffocated at home and bored with yourself, don’t waste this moment! Redefine your priorities. Get rid of everything you’ve heard about how you are supposed to be and how you should live your life to open the doors of your consciousness and heart to find your answers.
Ask yourselves these questions:
Where is the source of your imbalances?
What’s at the core of your anxiety?
What drives you to such a frenetic life?
What’s your soul looking for?
How can you show love and respect for yourself?
Once you answer these questions, you’ll be ready to feel what you are made of. You’re a particle of Gaya and can’t live disconnected from her. If your life isn’t aligned with the planetary life and consciousness, you’ll feel alone, disconnected and sick. But once you come back into alignment, you can harness all the power, passion and creativity you need to reframe your life and contribute to the collective change that we so desperately need.