When I was in my early twenties, I lived in a communal house. It was a large Victorian residence, with enough room for the seven people who called it home. There were many aspects of living in a small community that I enjoyed, taking turns cooking, making music together, and having long conversations into the night. The problems started when many household chores and responsibilities went unattended. The situation didn’t improve with group meetings and a shared plan, because follow-through was often lacking.
I was sad to move out, but my resentments grew, and eventually, the negatives outweighed the positives. I distinctly remember meditating on my dilemma and hearing, “The community you desire will not be a reality until it is a necessity,” I remember this now as we all face a global pandemic. At this time, community has become crucial. Our situation requires us to be flexible and work together for the common good. The current coronavirus is reminding us that we are all interconnected and that we all need to rely on each other to survive and acquire basics of life, food, health care, and social connection.
My hope is that this widespread virus that continues to cause a tremendous amount of suffering and has made us all vulnerable will eventually contribute to a positive worldwide restructuring. Our priorities can change, motivated by a renewed understanding that if we don’t support the most vulnerable among us, all of us will be at risk. Although we have borders separating counties, a virus doesn’t recognize these distinctions, and therefore all nations need to work together for human safety and global wellbeing. A virus is blind to nationality, race, religion, and economic standing. This sudden, dangerous, and upsetting event is a wake-up call to shift our emphasis toward concern for the whole world and global cooperation, rather than emphasizing competition and valuing material possessions above spiritual principles.
So many people are accustomed to pushing and goal orientation, merely trying to fulfill and express their desires, without enough consideration for others. From my perspective, individual well being must honor interconnection and is a dance between directive qualities, such as striving, talking, initiation, leading, and receptive qualities such as allowing, flexibility, listening, and patience. The lack of cultivation and appreciation for the receptive principles is a significant cause of imbalance and turbulence in our world. Now we are being forced by circumstance to learn receptive attributes.
Many of us are now sheltered in place, struggle to find basic supplies, and working at home. We can utilize this time for reflection, innovation, and the cultivation of acceptance. While simultaneously putting attention on details without rushing, such as hand washing for 20 seconds, packing or unpacking food with care rather than being hasty, and all the while working to maintain the give and take necessary to keep close quarter relationships harmonious.
Life has become more precious, as well as food, water, shelter, and our relationships. We can learn to consume less stuff and find new ways to be creative and fulfilled. I have heard stories of families singing more with their children, reading together, and making up games. Parents and children are working side by side at the kitchen table as they turn their home into a school and workstation. My sister-in-law is sewing face-masks for her regional hospital, and our local farmers market is handing out food and allowing people to pay online when they return home so that everyone can stay a safe distance apart. Amid great suffering, there is trust, caring, courage, and devotion. Whenever humanity faces a big challenge, a time when fear is predominant, there is also an opportunity to elevate our lives.
There is no doubt that this pandemic will be more difficult for some than others, but we can all deepen our compassion, play our part, and strive for a cooperative global community. Out of a shared human struggle can emerge a greater desire to serve humanity and to help make the world a better place. When fear and pain expands, there forms a more profound understanding of how tough life can be. Yet the silver lining is the development of compassionate souls who desire to help alleviate hardship and distress in its many manifestations.