Real life often needs translating before we can see past our own thinking. As old Bill Shakespeare said, “Nothing is good or bad, only thinking makes it so.”
We have a large amount of freedom in the interpretation of reality that we choose to create/experience for ourselves. Others will only see our behaviour not our reasoning. But our reasoning is, for us, our reality. But our realities have now become more interractive.
Throughout the world, we will all be asked to modify our behaviour to suit physical distancing principles. If we choose to see any authority’s directions as oppressive, then we have a negative reaction to being told what to do regardless of whether it’s scientifically wise or not.
If we see the very same measures as an expression of public cooperation designed to save lives –much like traffic laws– then we can feel good about our participation in a group action that is being undertaken as an expression of empathy, compassion and connection between fellow citizens.
Note, the angry person and the connected person are using the same information to build their realities from. For the connected person, that sense of being in things together is a big part of what makes a community feel good to the people who generally live within them.
But yes, we can logically argue that any terms of care regarding others will be in some ways mildly to severely oppressive. But we should also ask ourselves, to what end are we making that point? What’s in it for us? Or the world?
Expressing personal independence over care for others is a principle that can easily be respected as a principle. But a disease spreading isn’t theory, it’s real life.
People aren’t crazy for wanting to pull together and to exercise the social distancing as an act of respect for the independent health of others. That’s a form of independence that we have to guard as well.
Also, like it or not, we’re a pack animal. The people on the street that we don’t recognize are the people that grow our food, that clean our hospitals, that clean our water or ensure our toilet’s flush or that our monthly pay made it into our accounts.
Some are parents acting as teachers, some are blood donors, some designed our phone, some are the accountants trying to help people through a confusing financial time. Some are helping others make it psychologically. Others are struggling with their psychology.
This is our tribe. And at various points in life we will need virtually every kind of person, and we will also be needed. That’s not a bad thing. There’s safety in numbers. And nothing feels better than being genuinely useful.
In the end, based on human history, rather than thinking the worst of others, we are likely wiser to greet everyone as though they are an old friend that we have only just met. And after all, we just never know who we desperately might need in the future.
Being kind to others is also a kindness to ourselves. It improves our lives if we stay as conscious of that as possible. So every time you see someone swoop past us to social distance, we can think of it as though they just offered us a pantomimed Namaste.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.