The apocalyptic COVID-19 can be taken as an invitation to see together into deeper truths about ourselves and life that the pandemic is revealing to us. Such potential realizations include: We are all connected. We are all vulnerable. We are all co-creating what happens. And we are all in this together….
Just yesterday I noticed that within the name of this pandemic virus – COVID-19 – we find the Latin roots co- (together) and videre (to see). And then I remembered that the word “apocalypse” derives from the Greek apokaluptein (to uncover or reveal). Apocalypse is often described in terms of “lifting the veil” or “what is hidden will be revealed”.
So I asked myself what Covid-19 might be revealing to us or calling to us to see together more clearly, urgently and deeply. I suspect there are many ways to take up that challenge, but the following four realizations came up for me almost immediately:
1. WE’RE ALL INTERCONNECTED. We just are. We always have been. Today’s infocomm technologies, globalized economies, and growing environmental crises just magnify this ancient fact. And as the COVID-19 virus herds us into physical isolation, we experience new intensities, challenges and opportunities showing up – both from our interconnectedness and from our efforts at separation. The connectivity we have long ignored – or just assumed – is calling us to wake up to its implications.
2. WE’RE ALL VULNERABLE. Not just people, but all life. Some lives are clearly more vulnerable than others, while less immediately noticeable harms and disturbances ripple – subtly or unexpectedly – into our families, our workplaces, our networks, our social systems, our confidence in the future, shaking up seeming stable realities and relationships we’ve come to depend on. In the end, we learn we’re all vulnerable – and, if we learn that lesson deeply, we realize the wisdom of seeing, hearing and joining with each other.
3. WE’RE ALL CO-CREATING WHATEVER HAPPENS. It is so easy to point at some particular actor or factor as the Real Cause. But closer inspection almost always finds us all playing roles, large and small, often reluctantly or obliviously, caught up in the dynamics of larger systems and stories unfolding in and around us. The curse of this realization is the responsibility it implies. Its blessing is the power it can give us to participate more consciously and wisely – individually and together – making the differences that are needed.
4. WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. It is of course important to take responsibility for our own circumstances, beliefs and responses. But the three realities highlighted above lead inevitably to Martin Luther King’s observation that we are all “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” Waking up to this, we can tap our inclusive co-creative power to make that garment strong and beautiful – together. As that adventure is welcomed, it becomes a source of tremendous meaning and joy.
PS: Check out this beautiful “Letter from the Virus” video poem, which offers a complementary urgent invitation, this time about listening to the message of COVID-19.
PPS: You may also be interested in my post “Sense-making – together and apart” which explores ways to see, hear, think and feel together to generate healthy understanding and activity.
Tom Atlee, The Co-Intelligence Institute, POB 493, Eugene, OR 97440
Evoking and engaging the wisdom and resourcefulness of the whole on behalf of the whole
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