We’ve long known that our society is sick. Brain fog. Overwhelm. Depression. Anxiety. Toxic stress. Busyness. Lack of sunlight. Low immunity. Addiction. Discontent.
The root of all these problems is disconnection with self and lack of real connection with others. We have been living half-hearted while our design is whole-hearted. But that doesn’t often make the news. In large part, our symptoms of societal unhealth are passed off as normal. Most people have had them.
Our values were destroying us.
What does make the news is a quickly-morphing virus that is currently shutting down the world. Pandemic.
On one hand it is terrifying. On the other – a gift. But how can a movie-grade virus be a gift?
If we reframe the fear with a perspective of hope, we can see it different. One sickness has been given the opportunity to heal the other.
We’ve been living as half-human, too busy to slow down and confront all these pains. Our forced isolation gives us every chance to confront and heal our symptoms of widespread unhealth.
What a beautiful response by the government that they send us home to our families. Their best recommendation to reset society was to hunker down in its basic units. Family. Not work.
This is profound.
When it comes down to it, even the government recognizes that the heart of society is not in its productivity, but its people. We were not given cots and food rations and quarantined at the office with our work families. We were quarantined to our houses. To our families. To home.
What better way to kick the disease of busyness, our addiction to productivity, and our idolatry of being Elsewhere than to be mandated to be at home.
For some it will be unbearable to spend so much time at home. To have only the demons who arise in the void left behind by all our activities to listen to. To be faced with the uncomfortable tension of silence. To schedule our own days and be allowed to rest. To not produce, but rather, be. To still our souls. To reconnect with the people we share a house with. To let our minds do the hard work of healing.
We are so programmed to be human doings, rather than human beings. For many of us our identity has been derived by what we can accomplish, our worth synonymous with production.
Distraction from Wholeness has been sold to us in the form of activities and lessons and productivity. Our regular life gave us the constant opportunity to ignore our own unhealth, to stay busy, to stifle the discontent by going out and doing Every Next Thing.
We don’t have regular life any more.
We have to learn a new way of being. And first, we are being forced to slow down and listen. Mandated, actually. The goal is to stop the spread of one deadly virus, but the double blessing will be to unlearn all of our unhealthy patterns and values that lead to the other.
Over-connection led to disconnection, which led to pervasive mental heal issues. We are now given the chance to heal our chronic disconnection with reconnection to our families, our communities.
This slowed-down, forced connection is exactly the balm our society needs to heal our widespread, un-newsworthy disease of busyness.
Instead of chasing addictions the produce only temporary dopamine, we will become fluent in the connections that produce long-term serotonin.
Our worth will be no longer tied to our production. Our time will be joyfully spent with our families. Our absence of activity will be filled with quiet content. Our schedule will be replaced by creativity. And our proclivity to go indoor places to be entertained will be replaced by rediscovering the intricacies and wonder of outside.
We will be a society content. Fulfilled. Whole.
Let’s not ignore this time resetting for communal as an opportunity to reset our mental and relational health as well. Society needs individuals to be whole to function well. And in order to find wholeness let’s not squander our time in quarantine.
It’s time to make the space we call home actually be home, and the people we live with actually be family. Let’s learn to be together again with no busy schedule of appointments and lessons.
Spend time. Go outside. Play games. Remember how to laugh.
Unlearn the craving for busy.
And what of those who do not have family at all, or one who is safe? Please see them. Reach out. Invite them into your home despite the quarantine. If nothing else, pick up your smartphone and Facetime them. Every day. Because people need to have a place to belong, especially right now.
The Vietnam War was a societal pivot because of technology. For the first time, people could witness the realities of front-line war from their couch in a safe zone across the world. Common-folk became disillusioned. Suddenly society questioned their own values.
This is a time like that. We have been given a time to rethink our values. This virus is not unprecedented: we just haven’t seen one like this in our lifetime. What makes this different is that we have the technology to right now immediately see how it is affecting people.
We can in real time watch how social distancing is morphing our values back into the good ol-timey ones. Farm values. A slower lifestyle. Nature. Togetherness. Patience. Creativity. Being, rather than doing. Reclaiming worth untied to productivity. Family. Attachment. Community. Selflessness. Generous. Thoughtfulness. Compassion. Humility.
Love as a verb. Love as a presence.
Because we have time now, without any distraction, to act in these ways that make us essentially human. To reclaim and relearn the values we have forgotten.
I think at the end of this season we will emerge a society more united, more at peace with itself and others, more whole.
Let’s not waste the time gifted to us to be at home.