Contract can mean “to confirm an agreement” or “to reduce/diminish/withdraw in size”. In the English language it is ambiguous, paradoxical and ironic that the same word can mean both a positive affirming energy and a negative declining energy.
In the VUCA world of a pandemic like covid19 both meanings of the word “contract” are in play. As the world is being given orders to stop contact, the daily contracts we depend on as implicit agreements that govern dependable life conditions are being broken or denounced. In shock and/or defiance it is natural for us to contract and hunker down into protective positions.
Thus, we are experiencing the tensions that arise from simultaneously experiencing both meanings of “contract”. And when we are told “no contact” is a key strategy for avoiding or slowing the spread of covid19, how are humans to resolve the tensions of contract/contract?
If ever we sought a lived example of VUCA we are now living in global scale times of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. VUCA is no longer a military term – it is becoming the only way we can describe our daily realities.
Ironically the official responses to covid19, of isolation and quarantine may elicit the counter-response of community caring and compassion. Because, although the death rate seems high (by comparison to common flu but lower than SARS) the virus is likely to visit most communities and the only way we will be able to counteract all the downturns is to bring together the 4 Voices and enact the Master Code of Care – regardless of what the government/official edicts say.
In the middle of difficult times, the best policy is always the Truth. And that seems to be the most challenging behaviour for our officials to deliver.
While it may be a natural (defensive) reaction to contract in the face of attack, the lessons of the bees and the 4 voices is to do exactly the opposite – we should be in contact with one another. Connecting and reassuring and serving and caring engender positive psychology which is the greatest support we can give our immune systems. Fortuitously our technology allows us to connect without physical contact – and for a time we must practise social distancing physically but use the video/audio options that enable our mirror neurons to respond to the body language of our family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and even our officials.
When I face such wellbeing-defying conundrums in our Human Hive, I turn to Nature and ask myself, “What would the bees do in this VUCA world? What are they doing?”
The bees, who have been around for 100 million years, continue to serve their eco-regions by pollinating plants – thus providing energy to feed their hives this year and create renewed energy for next year.
Their numbers may have been diminished but their strategies continue – because they are life-giving strategies.
Humans on the other hand are facing challenges that bees have already had to contend with in the long history of their species – viral infection, climate change and species differentiation.
Much of human attention has been resistant to recognizing the implications of climate change – because it is not equally distributed around the world. Thus, some countries have refused to change policies to reduce climate impacts.
China has become the world’s largest emitter of CO2. Ironically it is also named as ground zero for the arrival of the coronavirus covid19. China’s draconian measures to contain the spread of the virus by locking down Wuhan city and Hubei province has unexpectedly revealed the scale and source of the emission. As a result, an unexpected (?) side effect has been their skies have cleared of both pollution and the CO2 emissions. The count of both industrial outputs has reduced in a way measurable from space.
Covid19 is spreading around the world with consequences that can easily spawn conspiracy theories. Is it possible that the countries that have defied world demands that they cease or change their military intimidation strategies, may not have the requisite level of complex thinking that is prepared to make choices between military strategies, capital investments and prevention or containment of the virus?
We are watching the inevitable lack of resilience in the world of autocracies:
- Iran having the highest contagion and death rate in the middle east.
- North Korea firing rockets while apparently hundreds of its military are infected and dying from covid19.
- Italy and Spain closing the country’s borders because of the rate of infection and deaths.
While it has been easy for many country leaders (of all governance stripes) to mock the reality of climate change, the rapidity with which covid19 is spreading is revealing that he/she who mocks first may not mock at all in the long run. More than one doubting politician or even minister in Italy, UK, USA, Australia has been quarantined after a positive diagnosis.
The ripple effects of the virus’ rapid spread have touched the energy resource sector resulting in market drops that now eclipse the stock market plunge of 2008.
Could there possibly be a silver-lining to this contracted/no contact situation? As Life would have it, we may be living through such a level of dissonance that we have created the conditions for a Superordinate Goal and a Meshwork stragegy to emerge. (Explore this with me in the next blog and Newsletter.)