When any of us face our individual crises, no matter how large or small, we will see what leads.
Part of our human experience is to become knowledgeable of how we tick, especially in crisis. Biology will kick in to combat the perceived threat. Protection will be number one priority. There will be a natural immediate activation in our system to take some kind of action.
The next beat then is to inquire: How we protect will depend upon what we have learned over the years. Do you fight, how do you fight, what does that look like? Do you flee, in what way and to what? Do you freeze, where do you stop functioning, mind, body, emotion, relationally?
Reminding ourselves of brain 101:
It is a history-making machine, using the past to predict the future, it likes what is familiar, saves energy by working from old information to take quick action, it tends toward the negative to keep an eye on what might be those lions.
This is important to know. It is good biology to preserve life. We don’t want to be found sitting with our coffee considering our options as the lion is about to place our head in its’ mouth. We want the system of survival to kick in automatically leading us toward best action to stay alive.
And, we are more than biology, we have consciousness. Reaction does not need to lead.
Whether matters that are more day-to-day, or acute situational circumstances of our life, we need our mind’s awareness to discern a responsive action. To let lead our conscious awareness is to widen the narrowed path to reveal better options that might be more sustainable.
Let’s take the current issue of the coronavirus outbreak. It is a disease spreading. It is not a person, particular group, race, gender, ethnicity, political party, country. It is an equal opportunity disease. It does not discriminate. No matter how much money you have, the color of your skin, your political affiliation, you have an equal chance of contracting this disease.
The fear that ignites leads the biological need to fight or flee, (and in my book, they are the same). How we do this reveals what leads. Hoarding masks, scrambling to get the most supplies, bending or blocking information to protect the financial markets, attacking political opponents, or schools for not implementing protective protocols, and so on. Our reaction reveals the biological need fear has to have an object to fight against. It also reveals what we value. Yes, we want to live. But what prompts our action to survive? What motivates? Money? Prestige? Public perception? Power?
What leads us in crisis is to be studied. It is a character revelation. It is a kind exploration of understanding our natural biological imperative and propensity to reactively protect, so we might then find a decision to live from a more informed conscious choice. This requires active training to develop a skill that interrupts the automatic.
What words do you live by? What guides your steps? We need to be living this on sunshiny days so we are prepared when crisis hits, then the truth of integrity can be found.
When watching the current political candidates, I keep asking, who is Prepared, not just for the current debate or interview, but for the action required. Who is Principled, guided beyond personal immediate power, empowered by a larger vision that determines action toward greater good for many? Who is Practical in knowing the reality of implementation of big ideas? What will guide their leadership when facing crisis?
We can prepare ourselves for crisis, guided by principles that guide our next practical action.
If we are informed accurately, with the correct information, we can find an adaptive functional response.
There is no one to blame. Life promises us old age, sickness, and death. We each on an even-playing field of love and loss. I have the hope that we can see this latest disease as opportunity to see our connection rather than further divide. If it indeed came from the back alleys of China where wild animals are held in small cages as means of profit, and the disease carrying bats were cut up to feed them, this the moment of transmission to spread a brand new virus, might there be a message here? Something to learn? What are we doing to our natural world in the name of profit? Where is the environmental justice? It might well be in this virus. I find it interesting that children are least to be harmed by this virus. That it is us old folks, (I’m 59), that might be the first to go. A culling if you will. As nature so beautifully does to find its balance. We could let nature lead us, but when we tend to objectify it as we do race, gender, ethnicity, to serve our own protective purposes, we lose the natural balance. When out of balance, we fall.
Not a punishing God. But a natural law of life. We all can live within the balance or break the law. Eventually we will be fined or imprisoned. The message of any crisis is opportunity.
Not to profit on demand for masks and antibacterial wipes, but to see we are all equally vulnerable here. We might find the virus as a common ‘enemy’ to unite in our intelligent response to preserve life for all. There is nowhere to run. No matter who you are. Like the multi-millionaire might sail off in her yacht, her vessel will sail upon the inescapable particles of plastics which have crossed economic boundaries, and will need to have supplies brought by hands that might be infected with the virus.
We have a chance to care here, to consider our fear, to practice in being human, and unite in a common cause, not to just survive, but to truly heal.