A Message To The Anxious

I received a message from a good friend recently:

“It feels like the whole world has collapsed.”

If you’re feeling anxious, or concerned, or if you’re in a dark place – you’re not wrong for feeling that way. It’s only natural.

The thought of 7-12 weeks of shutdowns to get COVID-19 under control would put a lot of pressure on anyone. Financially, physically, mentally, emotionally…

It’s forcing some massive rethinks around the way we do things.

For perhaps the first time in our modern history, the world is valuing social good over economic growth. Almost all governments globally are more concerned with health and wellbeing over GDP and productivity.

Corporations who previously “could never work from home” are now doing exactly that. Industries that were too big to shut down are now paused. Months ago, business and political leaders were still debating the economic cost of climate action. The environment was “we can’t afford to fix it” and “we should do the bare minimum so we don’t damage the economy”. Now “we have done the hard and risky things before, and we know what it looks like”.

Values are shifting. Essential workers aren’t bankers, politicians and business leaders. They’re nurses, truck drivers, and shelf stackers. 

Out of all of this, there is a rethinking of the core ideas that sit at the foundation of our society: 

  • How we feed, clothe, shelter, and look after people who suffer bad luck – through no fault of their own;
  • What “a fair go” means, and what happens if the “go” is good but the circumstances are unfair;
  • How we look after those who are less strong and less wealthy and less resilient; 
  • The nature of privilege and security, and what insecurity and exclusion mean in tangible terms; 
  • The nature of risk, reward, and responsibility in business;
  • The extent to which one person can take personal responsibility;
  • The fairness of certain types of contracts;
  • The interconnectedness of the economy, and how everyone relies on everyone for everything – not just poor people relying on rich people to provide capital and be job-creators;
  • Even simple stuff, like what we value in life, what makes us truly happy, and what self-care means. (Just ask someone in home isolation about walks outside, friends and family, sunlight, etc.)

It’s said the enemy of the great is the good – and we’ve lived very good lives in a very good society for such a long time that it’s been difficult to consider changing anything to make the world greater. The current situation is providing this catalyst.

None of this diminishes the loss of livelihoods and security many people are experiencing today – and the loss of lives of loved ones they are likely to experience ahead.

It’s true, that there are many in dark times right now. And it’s likely that there are even darker times yet to be experienced.

But in the midst of this darkness, loss, and tragedy – we are seeing examples of the best of society. 

And I can’t help but imagine that the hard times are laying foundation stones for a brighter future ahead.