A friend asked me if the country should open back up or should we stay in ‘shelter in place’ mode. I needed to contemplate my answer and thought I would share what arose for me.
Whenever I have a conundrum, I look to Nature. Nature is neutral. Nature lives and dies according to an impulse of creativity and expansion, but it is not in judgment. It does not say this is good and this is bad. We watch a nature show on TV and see the baby getting eaten by the predator and we judge that as sad and wrong, but we understand the necessity for survival. Life is precious but life needs to function and thrive.
This is the predicament we are in. Our lives are precious and ‘shelter in place’ helps preserve our lives. Our lives need to thrive and having necessities is important, so opening up the economy supports our life. These can be seen as opposing choices. These are also best not seen as moral judgments or right and wrong. They both have value.
But a choice needs to be made. What would nature do? The impulse in Nature is always moving toward more; more creativity, more life, more expansion. Nature is always driven by survival and thriving, protecting us and allowing us to thrive.
The first insight for me is that when I am confused and looking for an answer, I look to Nature.
How would Nature reconcile this? When an animal is threatened with a predator, that animal will retreat to its home and hide away. When it appears safe, when the predator starts to retreat, the animal will slowly and cautiously move out of the protection of its home and see how far it can safely go. When the virus numbers start to retreat, I would slowly and cautiously explore opening in the safest areas where we, as a community, can remain safe.
The second insight for me is that I need to remain free of judgment, free of labeling people right and wrong. But I also need to be responsible. Compassion for understanding where people are in this conundrum supports all of us.
How do I not go into judgment? Understanding that this is complicated. Parents feel a need to support their family and have a job. Parents feel a need to protect their elderly parents from death. This is a life and death moment and these are powerful, sometimes conflicting emotions we are dealing with. My judgment is detrimental and needs to be suspended. Instead of judging I need to help others. Everything is interconnected. Every decision I make affects others. I can think I don’t care if I get sick, but the fact is, I hold a responsibility for others – some of whom are vulnerable and could die. I could be infected and without symptoms and could infect others, so I need to take responsibility for the effects my actions will have on others.
The third insight for me is that I have a dharma to uphold. Dharma is that which upholds evolution and life.
What is the dharma here? There are two dharmas here; my personal one and my community’s dharma. My personal dharma is to remain sheltered in place because I am in the higher risk category. The community dharma is a balance of protecting ourselves and supporting ourselves. If we are patient and follow the numbers and the science, we can find the balance and move forward. I have both a responsibility to protect myself and others, and I have a responsibility to allow everyone to thrive.
The fourth insight for me is: There is a reason for ‘what is’. Knowing that reason supports my life in the long run.
Why is this happening and why are we having to even ask a question – bodily survival or economic survival? When Nature gets out of balance and out of harmony, it creates extremes. Imbalance and inharmony create imbalance and inharmonious expressions. That is what we are experiencing. That is what the virus is.
When I see satellite pictures during the shut-down of clean air over the world’s cities, when I see pictures of animals returning to areas they had been pushed out of, when I see people forced to be silent and reflective, I see positive things to contemplate. Even the question – protecting life or economic thriving – is a huge contemplation. It is supportive to ask ourselves these questions and find our own balance and harmony. That balance and harmony will then be reflected in how we treat and interact with Nature. Balance and harmony will allow us to balance the opposing aspects of this question and emerge from this with the greatest harmony.
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