About a month ago I was visiting with a parent of one of my daughter's friends and they were telling me how they were losing their faith in humanity. With all that's going on, I told her that I understood her concerns but that I had faith that we'd be O.K. She looked at me in disbelief. As I was formulating my discourse on optimism, our kids rolled up and they had to leave. I told the mom that if she gave me ten minutes that I could convince her that humanity was going to be just fine. We haven't had time for that conversation yet, but it got me thinking about how there is some perspective that I think we need in times like these. Thus I give you:
5 Reasons Why We're Going to Be OK
Reason #1. We've Been Here Before
In the course of human history, there have been numerous plagues, diseases, pandemics and outbreaks. Each one with its own set of challenges that were overcome in time. This one will be no different. COVID19 is bad, but is it worse than the Black Plague? As far as the economy, countless recessions and depression did not stop this country or the world from recovering in time. And as far as a polarized and divided populace, we must remember that there was a time when our country literally went to war with itself. While we apparently have not completely healed from that one, some progress has been made. I know that it is rare that all these factors occur at once, but these are all obstacles that have been overcome at one time or another.
Reason #2. Don't Believe the Hype
We must never lose sight of the fact that in modern times the "Age of Information" has transmuted to something more accurately described as an age of disinformation. Both sides of almost all the issues have a way of only presenting their side of an issue and only stand to gain attention and control from a sensationalized and partisan angle. Media thrives on upset and social media gives people unlimited opportunities to stir the pot. When we consume media, be mindful of who wants you to be upset and who stands to gain. Also, it wouldn't be a bad idea to occasionally disconnect from your news feed or deliberately seek out positive messages and maybe even ones that are contradictory to your beliefs. There's always at least two sides to any story.
Reason #3. Human Resilience
The media is not good at focusing on the positive. A quick look at history will show that when the chips were down and disaster imminent there have always been people who bounced back, rose to the occasion and found a way to get through. Those people are out there now and we’re just not looking at them. The human race was built not just to survive, but to thrive. Individuals and groups have found ways to do that in the past and more than likely will do so in the future. Doctors and researchers have found cures. Politicians and other leaders have found ways to mobilize and motivate struggling groups and nations. Economists and businesses have found the solutions to monetary problems and even found opportunities to thrive in economic down-turns. Few people know that most of the current Fortune 500 companies were founded in either a recession or a depression.
Reason #4. The Spiritual Revolution
I was recently having a great conversation with a young tattoo artist in downtown Edwardsville. I was talking about how since we've had the industrial revolution and the technological revolution, all that was left and what was needed was a spiritual revolution. She said, "Yeah, I know. I've gotten much more spiritual during COVID." She went on to say that with all the extra time on her hands during quarantine she had taken up yoga and meditation. She described how her "quiet time" had made such a big change in her mental health. It reminded me of how in almost all of my spiritual reading that I've done recently one of the most common themes has been of the coming spiritual revolution. Ghandi, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak etc. all discussed how the signs were pointing toward a blossoming change in people’s spirituality. With all the world's spiritual master's at our fingertips via the internet, we are primed for this. In generations past, spiritual matters were often left to clergy and monks. Today we can pray with the Dalai Lama, take a virtual tour of the Vatican or dance with Oglala Sioux.
Reason #5. Compassion and Connection
Human beings are hard-wired for just the sorts of skills and abilities that will be required for our bounce-back. Social scientists have been proving for years that we are bred for compassion and connection. Anthropologists have seen how the survival of our species depended upon it. Babies from the earliest ages will cry when they see another baby cry and most toddlers will try to comfort their upset peers. These compassionate and connected responses sometimes fade as we age and are socialized out of us. Despite this, we are social animals. To make it this far, we had to care about one another. We had to look out for one another and most importantly we had to cooperate. We were made for these challenges. Otherwise, we wouldn't have made it this far.
What few people realize is that we are living in some of the very best times to be a human being on planet Earth. It's true. World-wide poverty and starvation are down as technology brings opportunities and much needed supplies to struggling communities. Modern medicine has never been better and though it seems to be getting the better of us now, vaccines will come. They always have. There is less war now than at most times in human history. If you think we've got it bad now read a book about World War I and its aftermath. Not only was the war brutal and inhumane, killing millions but it was soon followed by one of the worst pandemics in recorded history. It is estimated that influenza killed between 20 and 40 million people. How did we survive? In exactly the same way we will get through our current struggles. People banded together and took care of one another. We used our compassion and connection to recover, regroup and keep on plugging. This is what we, as a species, were made to do and that is why I think that we are going to be ok.
We really are going to be more than ok. We're going to be fine.