The “Washington Post” today has a wonderful article about a man named Abraham Walker, who is a real estate agent in Alexandria Virginia. Walker asked people on Facebook what if any good has come out of the pandemic for them. He said he is not denying the losses, but wanted to help people see it is not only losses. The article ends with this quotation: “Look at the afterward,” he says. “History tells us there is always an afterward.”
We know that, but we forget it. We speculate about negative outcomes, everything only ever getting worse. We have seen too many disaster movies. We worry. Worry feels like problem solving. Worrying makes us feel like we will be prepared for the worst. We speculate as if there is some way to nail down the future. Our minds turn the possibilities over and over. There seem to be an infinite number of possibilities to worry about. The worst case scenarios seem ever more probable.
The thing is, we have been thrown an enormously surprising wrench in the works of our everyday lives. Many parts of our lives that we took for granted are no longer possible in the same ways. Some things have stopped completely. Some have morphed into something else. Some people have had devastating losses and other people are treading water waiting for some kind of stability in the global situation.
The thing is, we have been forced into a global reset. We have had to rethink what matters to us and we have had to decide what to build in the space that has been made. We have a chance to reimagine what our world and our social systems should be like. The importance of different community needs has shifted, and we see more clearly the imbalances in our local and larger worlds.
Human beings are infinitely innovative, flexible, and adaptive. And the core intentions of human nature, wired in, are to care for ourselves and each other. This is not a hypothesis. It has been proven over and over. We do not like unfairness. We do not like to know that other people are suffering. We feel that too. We do not like a feeling of being unsafe. We do not like a feeling of stagnation or a lack of meaning in our lives. There are fundamentals that underlie the quality of our lives.
We have a chance to envision a better world–a cleaner, kinder, wiser way to organize ourselves and our communities. The templates for this vision are lying around, being used in small ways and proving successful. We can hold this vision for each other; we can trust the larger picture. We don’t need to hold the world together with our bare hands, and we don’t need to be afraid of each other. We can stick to a picture of the possible and share that picture with each other. We can remember all of the history of people overcoming challenging times and creating something better. Afterward.