What we are all experiencing as a result of COVID-19 is unprecedented. The shut-down, social distancing, isolation, and self-quarantine on a national scale are awkward. On a global scale, it’s downright frightening.
The world has slowed way down. Most people understand the necessity of this and the stay-at-home orders from local leaders (as opposed to the always conflicting disinformation from the top — in the US, at least).
Those that do not recognize why this is necessary are being fueled by misinformation, inexpert advice, and feeding of broad (and often antagonistic) fears.
Unless you were alive a hundred years ago for the last global pandemic — or for that matter one of the world wars — you’ve never seen anything like this. The level of uncertainty, doubt, and fear are amped up. I know that my own anger — mostly over seeing displays of surreal stupidity at various levels of society — is uncomfortably elevated.
The big question overall is — where do we go from here? How long will we need to practice social distancing? For how long will we need precautions? When will we be able to hold public gatherings again?
Or to sum up — when does life go back to normal?
And that’s the rub, really. Why are we so keen to return to how things were?
Familiarity breeds contempt
This is all about comfort zones. The human race has an inherent need to nest. By-and-large people desire to find comfort.
That can take a wide range of forms. Food can bring comfort. Physical affection can be comforting. Certain fabrics on the skin are comfortable.
It’s not just physical. Comfort extends to the mental, emotional, and psychological. It’s why small children often possess a well-worn familiar in a small blanket or stuffed animal. This need doesn’t leave you as an adult — it just takes new forms.
Every time I have had any sort of office space — from a cubicle to a room with a door — I have nested. Personal touches, art on the walls, and various personal effects live in my space to mark it as mine. But it also turns my space into something that reflects on me.
Creating an environment of familiarity creates one of comfort. It feels stable. When that stability is ripped away it tends to create doubt, uncertainty, and various other negatives.
Hence why having our general, collective conscious normal abruptly undone causes backlash and negative reactions. The habitual lives most people lived differently before this pandemic have been torn away. Your woobie is gone.
Hindsight is seldom 20/20
Many people have a tendency — when they look back to the past — to see things from a matter of wistful perspective. It’s why so many people desire to go back to how life was in the 1950s.
What it ignores is the racism, extreme inequality, and lack of social justice that was rampant in that era. The nuclear family — where mom stayed at home in a pretty dress and make-up — is mostly a lie. It’s a nostalgic notion based on a desire for simplicity often in the face of fear spurred by progress.
I used to believe that hindsight was 20/20. You could look back and see perfectly clearly what you missed before. But I have come to a new conclusion that, frequently, hindsight gets distorted. You see what you WANT to see in the past more than what was the truth.
Hence why I question returning to the “normal” of life pre-pandemic. Far too many people have been struggling for basics that nobody should struggle for. The uber-rich — who can afford months or even years out of work — largely can’t be bothered to support their struggling workers. The government and their ridiculous belief in trickle-down economics just make them richer — while throwing coins to the masses.
Too many people believe in a lot of lies about how the economy works. They also believe that its crash will devastate everyone. While it will certainly suck — there are plenty of ways out of this where very few people need to suffer.
Where we could go
Recently responding to a post about Universal Basic Income (UBI) by Shannon Ashley — a Medium author I deeply admire — I came to a realization. The problem with this notion — as well as the stories told about Universal Health Care — is based on two big misunderstandings.
The first is fiat money. Most people think money is based on a standard like gold or silver or some other tangible. It used to be. But it has not been based on any such thing for just shy of a century now.
Money is based on nothing tangible. It’s fiat — created by governments and banking systems out of thin air (or probably hot air). As I wrote in this article about the reality of money and currency — the Euro — used throughout Europe — has only existed since 1999. That’s 21 years. And yet this currency is the 2 ndmost traded in the world.
Because money is generated in this way — it’s utterly abundant. Hence, coming up with the funds to support a UBI is already in place.
Which is where the second problem comes in. Trickle-down economics. This is the belief that if you give lots of money to those at the top they will trickle it down to those at the bottom. More money for job makers equals more jobs for everyone.
This practice caught fire and became the norm in the 1980s. This is where huge tax cuts to the ultra-wealthy began to support the idea that when they have more they will give more.
It doesn’t take a genius economist to see that this failed miserably.
Some of the ultra-rich earn so much money that their equivalent daily income often could pay $50,000 to more than a thousand “average” people.
Can you see why misunderstanding these truths is problematic?
Where do we go from here?
Nobody can accurately predict how long the measures being taken need to go on. You can decide for yourself, however, where to get your news, whether to listen to actual experts or demagogues and the actions you will or will not take.
Practicing mindfulness can help you see that your path is unique to you. You can decide what thoughts, feelings, and actions to take-in and put-out. The choice to be afraid for the future — or to look for hope and possibility — is in you.
There is no simple, easy, one-step one-size-fits-all answer. All I can advise is this: practice mindfulness and be aware of yourself and what you are thinking, as well as how and what you are feeling. Recognize the intent of your actions. This will open you to knowing yourself and your overall psyche.
Practice kindness, gratitude, and empathy. Don’t go out grocery shopping without a mask. Be smart and maintain social distance — based on good science — to protect those you care about. Empathize with those who are working still — whether cooking at a restaurant, moving goods in a warehouse, or practicing medicine and risking exposure to the coronavirus to help others daily. Offer them gratitude.
You can control the here-and-now for only yourself and your life. Focus on that rather than the question of where we are going. There is no answer right now, and any answers we have are subject to change.
Reach out to friends, family, or an impartial person to maintain balance. Don’t let fear and uncertainty overwhelm you.
Where are we going and how will we get there? I think the better and much more answerable questions are: Where are you know? Where do you desire to be and what can you do to get yourself there?
You are worthy and deserving of using mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you and I matter wherever we go from here.
Originally published at http://titaniumdon.com on April 22, 2020.