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Day 159 - The Stand of Interconnectedness

Nothing like a virus and contagion to bring this point home it seems...

Buddhist teachings are always reminding us that we are all interconnected and related. There is a focus on remembering where everything came from and how we are all interrelated. Tracing our dinner on our kitchen table to the grocery store, the transport company, the packing house, another transport company, the farm, the workers, the field, the farmers that planted and tended the seeds, the store, the transport company that brought the seeds to the store, the packing plant that packaged the goes on and on.

Where am I going with this? Well, I think we all are going to need to start thinking in lineage and relationally. As the corona virus spreads, we are going to be asked to trace our whereabouts and contacts with others to try to contain and stop the virus. For me, this is an exercise in remembering that whether we like it or not, whether we accept it or not, we are all interconnected.

For me, the virus and its contagion, is a great reminder that despite my ego’s belief that I live in my own little bubble, I am, in fact, dependent and connected to a whole web of beings that I don’t even think about most of the time. I think the luxury of this idea that we live our own lives is about to be addressed on a global and universal level.

The virus is showing me that despite my lack of willingness to really see that we are all interconnected and related, I am going to get a lesson in just how much this is true. It is happening all over the globe and there is not much I can do about it really. I can wash my hands, limit my contact with others, stay 1 meter away from others. In a time where everyone is scared and in need of support, we are going to be forced to keep our distances perhaps even within our own homes. From your child, parent, hell even your pet if you become ill.

I am choosing to look at this whole pandemic as a lesson in waking up. I am willing to see what the universe might be trying to teach us all. That right now it doesn’t matter if you are a democrat or republican, a Trumpeter or Trumphater, what color your skin, how much money you have in the bank or don’t, what your investment strategy is, what your sexual orientation is, what is going to matter most in the days to come is our health and ability to maintain it. I think what is going to matter most after that is how we treat each other.

I have been getting my virus update from the World Health Organization because of my inherent lack of trust in our media and government, and because I also want to think of this in global terms, because I think looking at what is happening elsewhere is the best predictor of what is going to happen here. I also love the WHO’s director and his daily reports. I love that his humanity is present in every one of them. His messages addressing the nuts and bolts of contagion and how best to thwart it but also how much we all need to remember that everything that each of us does or doesn’t do, impacts everyone. We are all part of the problem and the solution.

For me, this virus is a wake up call. We are being given the circumstances to see that our survival really does depend on how we treat one another. And I am already hearing stories of how our fear and survival instinct is giving way to fights in grocery stores over toilet paper. This is not a spiritual evolution. I think it is the first stage of a much larger lesson in spirituality. First we cling and fight for what we think we need or want, then we see that in the larger scheme of things, we are really powerless over much of it. I think of all the people in concentration camps, how much they must have, at first, been super greedy in their own survival. Hiding from being caught, perhaps ratting out others to spare themselves. But as the Nazi’s became more and more effective, how much people had to pull together. Had to go within and answer to a higher calling. How you treated people became important. It became the basis for survival. Trust of each other and a common concern, not just for oneself, was the best chance for survival. People united against a common enemy. And I think we are there again people.

Perhaps some of you may say that my comparison is flawed and too over the top. I don’t think so. The virus is showing us how connected we are, how quickly what one person does or doesn’t do impacts the larger community. I think that the best thing we can all do for each other right now is to stay home. Proactively choose to limit contact with each other because that is really the only way to stop its spread. Stay home with our children and family members, rekindle the family unit, give of ourselves and our time and our energy to care for each other. This isn’t going to be forever, the virus will run its course. We can all pray that it isn’t long lasting and there is a vaccine on the way. But until that happens, we can just stay away.

It is our connection to each other that is giving us all an opportunity to put our egos aside and take a step back and make some sacrifices of our personal freedoms and just stay home. Play games, read books, write letters, talk to each other. Be with each other without the distraction of the world outside. All the while, realizing that our act of doing this, is the very best thing we can do to save everyone.

Interconnectedness is funny business. It shows us the framework upon which everything we have come to rely upon hangs. It shows us just how quickly and easily we pass things to each other. Failing to recognize this might be our undoing. No one knows how this is all going to go down. No one knows how bad it is going to get. For me, I am looking at our connectedness as a means to learn a valuable and life affirming lesson: since we all exist on this delicate ecosystem and are completely dependent on it for our own personal survival, perhaps it is time we all took a step back from it for a minute so that it can be preserved. For me, the “right” to go where I want, when I want is far less important to me than saving a person’s life that I have never met that lives five streets over from me, or six doors down.

Interconnectedness is how we all survive but, like everything in life, it can also be our undoing. It really is up to us. Who are you going to show up as: the person who stands on their personal rights or the one that cares for all by be willing to sacrifice for the greater good? If you want a really good lesson as to how that all plays out? Read Stephen King's The Stand. Then you will know which side you want to be on.

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