It’s the 1st May 2020 and we are in the midst of the Corona Virus. It has caused most of the world to grind to an economic and social halt. How bizarre that practically the whole world should stop in this way. We could not have imagined it a few months ago. We would have said it was ‘impossible’ and yet here we are.
So where does this leave us? What do we make of these strange times? We all find ourselves in different situations, some of us have lost our jobs, some have been ‘furloughed’, many are working from home, some are ‘essential’ and continue to work, often in difficult circumstances, and for others life continues in a similar way, but without physical friends and family. I acknowledge that we are all in different situations, and in no way wish to play down the suffering that many of you reading this are currently experiencing and the fears that are keeping you awake at night. However, this is happening and so coming to a place of acceptance of the new situation is important. It is also important for us to realise that people were suffering prior to Corona virus and this economic ‘slowdown’, though they may not have been in our neighbourhoods or even in our country. We live well in developed countries largely because we have benefited from the work of others in poorer countries. This is a reality, but one that we often do not see, or even want to see.
I want to be honest here and say that I think this time presents a huge opportunity for the planet. The course we have been taking prior to Corona Virus has not been a good one in terms of looking after the earth and many of the people who live on it. If nothing substantially changes and we return to ‘business as usual’, we will before too long be forced to confront the results of our actions and inactions. What I am saying is that this situation would have happened anyway at some point in time – and it may well happen again too!
I view this unusual lifetime event as a gift of time, a breathing space. We have been given an amazing opportunity to stop, to feel, to think, and to re-evaluate our lives – if we choose to do so.
My purpose in writing is to highlight this opportunity and ask that you use whatever time remains of the current ‘lockdown’ measures to examine your life and consider what is important to you. What is really important to you?
We have all been born into a world that encourages us to be good consumers. In return for working hard we will get our rewards ‘in heaven’ or ‘retirement’ or even by being able to buy more things! For so many people this is not true. The truth is that we live in heaven now. Our earth is a heaven and can provide us all with everything we need for a full and happy life. It cannot provide us all with expensive clothes, cars, houses, holidays abroad, endless consumption and continuous growth however! We can only have those things at the expense of the planet and of others having much less and living in conditions that we would not be prepared to tolerate. This is not fair.
So what I am asking is could each of us play some part, however small, towards making the world a fairer and happier place for everybody to live? Could we make changes to our lives that mean we do less harm to the environment, help other people more, work less, feel more, think for ourselves more, create more, feel more alive? We have been sold a lie in that we have been lead to believe that having less is a bad thing when in reality having less is much, much more. True joy is not found in possessions and the fleeting ‘happiness’ of consuming. True joy is in our hearts, it is about love, love for ourselves, our families, our communities and our planet. We know this in our heart when we stop and take time to feel. Whatever the reasons for doing so, it is amazing that governments have given us the chance to stop. They have given us the gift of time, the most precious thing we have.
Consider the last few weeks. How has this ‘lockdown’ period been for you? What have you found difficult, sad or challenging and what have you found enjoyable, peaceful or fun? How will your life be after this time is over? Do you want to rush headlong back to your ‘old’ life? Will your old life exist as it was anyway? Things have changed and we will need to adapt and change too. Do you think there are some things you would enjoy doing differently? Maybe work less, longer walks, quieter times, gardening, cooking, spending more time with your children or partner, spending more time alone, spending less money? There are so many questions you could ask yourself and there are so many ways to live a life! It is helpful to recognise that much of our time is under our control. Yes, there are certain frameworks and structures, but within these we have choices as to what we do or don’t do with our time, our energy, and very importantly, with our money.
Do you want to go backwards to the old world or forwards to help create a new one? A new world where our children and grandchildren have a chance of growing up, and of knowing the really valuable things in life, like the fact that we are nature, not above it. We don’t need to endlessly buy things to feel happy. We can choose cooperation and peace, rather than seek divisions and war and we can choose love instead of fear.
My hope is that this bizarre time in our history will provide opportunities that you never imagined and that you will be able to bring all your human creativity into being, and that the world will be a better place because of it. I believe that we can indeed be richer with less.