Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.Viktor Frankl
COVID-19 lockdown day four here in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Time at home to really consider the space between stimulus and response.
I wanted to share with you some of what I’ve been reading and watching. Trying to make sense of all of this – where is our opportunity to grow.
However, I should say first that not all of us are in a position to reflect on this current situation in the way that I am able to. Self-care and self-compassion will look different for each of us at the moment. Some of us out there will be dealing first hand with the tragedy that is this pandemic.
So, it is to those of us who are simply doing our bit by staying home, physical distancing and encouraging being together apart, that I address these reflections to. And reflecting is important right now as Nature has given us this space between.
I really appreciate what Niki Harré says about reflecting in her book The Infinite Game: how to live well together.
“Reflecting is not a lazy way to avoid moving forward; it is a crucial part of untangling ourselves from the dominant cultural patterns that are so easy to replicate when we ‘just do it’. Reflecting takes skill”Niki Harré
Let’s start with what seems to be the unravelling picture of the causes of the unprecedented time we now find ourselves in.
Bill Gates’ TED talk 2015 – this is a link to Bill Gates’ eerily accurate prediction about epidemics and what we would need to prepare. His suggestions mostly focus on building capacity for epidemiologists, innovation, health ministry preparedness and government collaboration. Much of this seems to have fallen on deaf ears and the work hasn’t been done.
Bill Gates’ TED Connects March 2020 – How we must respond to the coronavirus pandemic. In this 50 minute conversation with Bill Gates a lot of ground is covered with regard to testing, therapeutics, vaccines and other logistics around managing the pandemic.
What I love is his pragmatic optimism, his belief in humanity and his unswerving belief in our creativity in terms of science and innovation. But I do wonder, if we are not in that particular creative sphere, on that sort of scientific front line, where do our responsibilities lie? As just average global citizens, what difference can we make, if any?
The next piece of the puzzle for me is why would a pandemic of this nature be an inevitability as Gates suggested in 2015? Well, from my research it seems we have brought this on ourselves – the sheer numbers that make up the human population, the amount and the way we consume, the biodiversity loss and ecosystem service disruption we have caused, the accelerated climate change we have induced.
Here are some links worth reading/watching:
John Scanlon, African Parks Network has written an eloquent article on wildlife crime and the link between wet markets and disease spread.
A short video titled How wildlife trade is linked to coronavirus. Please note this is from early March so the statistics quoted are out of date.
This from the World Health Organisation.
If ever there was a time when Mother Nature herself was speaking up and giving credence to what scientists, researchers and conservationists have been saying for years, it is now.
But what can we do? What hope is there? Are there individual actions we can each take that will make a difference?
Yes, I believe so! What follows are a few ideas that range from the deep and reflective to the more light-hearted, surviving lockdown ones. All ways to consider the space between.
At times like these it is useful to pause and consider our values. Values are our guiding forces. They are quite individual to each of us, although will be influenced by our culture and upbringing. My values are very much based on the environment and how I see my relationship with other living things and the planet in general. Many people have values based on how they value their social relationships and still others may focus on themselves and their individual well-being. Or a combination of these values. None are right or wrong. But what I think is interesting is that no matter where your core values lie, we can no longer deny the need for change as the human species – behaviours and actions. Setting a new norm that will impact on individual health and wellbeing, the good of humanity and future generations, as well as the planet we are so intimately connected to, is imperative.
If you want to read more about values and how values influence our decision-making, I highly recommend checking out the Barratt Academy for the Advancement of Human Values. There is also a really useful values assessment tool on this website.
That was the deep stuff. On to something more practical. If we are mindful of how we are living on the planet and the impact we are having, we can take practical steps to mitigate and reduce negative impact. For a super interesting read on a scale of solution focused ideas to address climate change, check out Drawdown. I think there is something for everyone here, no matter your circumstance or where you find yourself in the world. I found this information incredibly empowering!
Then, I really think we should be thinking about what we eat and how it is produced. Regenerative agriculture makes the Drawdown list at number 11. Here is a one farmer’s perspective – Angus McIntosh talks about the case for regenerative agriculture. As I mentioned above, living mindfully is key and knowledge is power. Food for thought 😉
I have another quote from Niki Harré’s Infinite Game that I think fits here:
But the idea kept popping into my head that life is based on radical cooperation. Cooperation fitted because the actions of each life form supported the growth of other forms; and it was radical because these actions were at the root of both individual survival and the functioning of the entire ecosystem.Niki Harré
And what about surviving right now?
Or travel virtually… my friend Carla from the Blue Sky Society Trust is currently taking us on an epic African Safari experience… get involved!
As for me…. Painting calms me down… here’s some new ones…
And that about wraps up a very long post. I will be back in April hoping to post most days with photos and short stories from my travels over the years. Join me for some virtual wanderings.
Take heart, dear ones. All will be well. Our collective courage, compassion and kindness in this space between will make it so.
Leaving you with a couple more quotes from the hugely inspiring Infinite Game which seem written for a time such as now…. Thank you, Niki Harré, for sharing your wisdom 💙
“This is what being an infinite player or a community that cares about our lives together means. Getting up each day, remembering what matters, and trying like hell to live that in the confusion of real life. It does not mean knowing what is right. Sometimes it might just mean rejecting that which is clearly wrong (as far as you can tell). And, I humbly suggest, this process may be aided by imagining life as an infinite game. Not because it is, exactly, but because imagining it so might help to focus us on what truly matters.”
“Love is at the heart of the infinite values. Radical cooperation is a way of translating this into the mind-set of an infinite player. It involves trying your best to let go of the belief, trained into us by our society’s emphasis on self-promotion and self-acquisition, that security lies in what you have cordoned off for you and your descendants. Insofar as security exists at all, it is better understood as lying in how well we cooperate with each other and the natural world in which we are embedded.”