The news was on in the background as I worked on my computer, proceeding as news normally does, when my ears picked up some words that did not at all sound like what is regularly on the news. It sounded more like a part of a science fiction show, or perhaps a section of a movie about healing via a strange version of the esoteric. I focused and was astounded by what I saw (although I admit that afterwards I laughed at the absurdity). An elderly woman, ostensibly a doctor, was passionately warning people to make sure God was watching when they had intercourse to make sure that they were not sleeping with spirits and demons (which was the cause of illness) and that vaccines were made with alien DNA. Was this really a news program?? It was, and this was the person with whom Trump wishes to replace the current senior advisor on the pandemic, Dr. Fauci. Replace Dr. Fauci with a witch doctor???? (Not to be confused with shamans, who are sane.) Alice in Wonderland had just expanded exponentially. I have my reservations about vaccines, especially about the designer vaccine being hurriedly developed to ward off the Coronavirus, but I am certain the vaccine has not been made with alien DNA.
The news is also telling us that we need to come together to defeat the virus. This is partly true. However, the news puts out mixed messages about connecting with each other. It says we should stay connected virtually and by acts of charity performed within the parameters of distancing, connecting at a surface level but continuing to wear masks and stay in our houses, or at least six feet away from each other. I believe the reasoning is that if we do this, we will feel satisfied, rather than isolated from each other. People do not like to be deprived of touch and of proximity. Despite the surface nature of its pronouncement, the news is not incorrect in this matter. We do need to connect, more than virtually, more than just sharing a meal outside a restaurant at tables six feet apart.
I am not talking about being sheep in a herd, led by the latest official direction and pressure from the bandwagon. People who connect respect the individuality of each other; they listen and discuss; they cooperate without pressuring each other to conform. For example, whatever I may think of masks, it does not hurt me to wear one either out of concern for the safety of others or simply to refrain from adding to the already overwhelming anxiety that many people feel. Being vaccinated with a vaccine I do not think is safe and doubt is effective or being tracked to ensure that I get vaccinated is a completely different matter. There is a difference between radical cooperation and tyranny. We need to come together in cooperation at a deeper level, to sustain each other, to survive as a species and to influence the evolution of events towards a healed Earth, disease-free living, and a just, compassionate and respectful social and economic order.
One concept we have for a long time been taught is that life is competitive; it is everyone for him/herself and for his/her immediate family. Our schools, with their system of grades, are built that way. The economic inequality we currently experience is built on a foundation of competition, winner take all. Now that we are faced with the challenge of the pandemic (and also the ongoing challenge of an ever-warming Earth), we seem unable to come together to solve it using the standard competitive paradigm.
To achieve the deep cooperation we need is a major undertaking. We once had that kind of cooperation, when people lived in tribes, or even in small neighborhoods, and worked together for the benefit of all. Sure, there were disagreements then, but the disagreements were not allowed to destroy the well-being of the whole. In various ways, the community would help the members who were at odds with each other work out their differences in ways that allowed life to go on. We have lost that. Now we have competition, fights, wars, winners, losers, and increasing chaos. The mainly competitive path is not working.
To succeed in reclaiming cooperation between ourselves, we must change the directive which instructs us that life is every man or woman for himself or herself, and that we need to defeat someone else in order to be successful or happy. We have to give up some of our defining individualism, sacrificing some of it to the benefit of the whole. No, our individual identities will not go away completely. We are, after all, each unique, each an irreplaceable individual. The value of our talents, though, must be geared towards helping the other unique individuals with whom we live. The community supports us; we support the community. That is the essence of cooperation. We work together towards what we all in our wisdom perceive to be the best. That is quite different than a government, or corporations, deciding what is best and giving us the illusion that if we just do it their way, we may manage to succeed, and life will be good for some of us at least.
Cooperative community is the way of the future. It is in process; the substance is still evolving. In community, each voice is heard, and time is taken to reach consensus. Consensus is possible because people have learned to listen, and to discuss their differences and respect another’s stance without needing to feel that they have ‘won’. People work with and support each other. The wisdom of even a few is not only heard but incorporated into consensus decisions. Because the process takes time, the pace is slower, less frenzied. This is new to us; if there are even distant memories of how it was, we still need to learn or relearn the patterns. However, this ‘road less taken’ is the one that can lead us into a healed, peaceful world, prosperous equally for all.
Now is the time for change; now is the time for action. If we shy away from this deeper working together, we are abdicating any influence we might have on what evolves. Do we wish to live in the world some distant authority prescribes for us? We can see the beginning of that now. Let us pause now to think, to come together, to know each other as the wonderful, creative people we are at heart, and to use our combined talents to build a world in which we wish to live.