In our lifetimes, most of us cannot recall a time when we were more disconnected from one another. Due to a pandemic virus, we were thrust into a new way of living that excluded almost everyone we have ever known or loved and everything we have ever done. At first, staying in place seemed novel and kind of enjoyable, especially to those of us who are introverts. But, after a few weeks of self-quarantine, we began to realize that this new lifestyle wasn’t going to go away anytime soon, and we started to miss the office chatter, the gatherings with our friends, or the satisfaction that comes from a stimulating conversation. Yes, we had our phones, we had social media, and we had technology that allowed us to see everyone with whom we are speaking but, somehow, when we hung up the phone or disengaged from the technology, there we were…all by ourselves, or so it felt.
We have now reached the point where we can put on a mask or practice social distancing, but there are still so many unknowns about this insidious virus. Some of us have adapted our behaviors, like ordering groceries online and paying someone to select and deliver them, or supporting local businesses by ordering in advance for curbside pickup. Others are venturing out, with or without masks, going to stores or restaurants, knowing that either they or other shoppers are potential carriers of the virus, yet also aware that the more risks taken, the greater the chances for infection, perhaps, even death.
Added to this physical sense of separation, we have a political environment that that has fueled the mentality of division, causing uncertainty about who is a friend or who is a foe. Differences in opinion are not tolerated well but, rather, define “the enemy” who used to be a neighbor or friend. Again, we are left with this sense of being isolated from one another.
All of this leads me to what I really want to talk about, and that is the need for us to take this opportunity to go within and to deepen our relationship with ourselves and with humankind; the need to take some of these quiet moments to reflect on what is to be learned from this pandemic. What is our common part in this crisis? How can we work together to change the continuing downward spiral most of the world is experiencing?
Sue Mehrtens’ blog on the Jungian Center for the Spiritual Sciences website provides some social, political, economic, and psychological insights we can take from the pandemic. Socially, she says we should easily be able to recognize the fact that we are all one, equally susceptible to human adversities, like pandemics which do not discriminate. Politically, we can see the global interconnectedness in which we now live, where isolationism no longer seems rational. Economically, we have experienced the reality of supply-and-demand chains and just how fragile global distribution systems are. Mehrtens suggests that psychologically, we need to become more reliant on our inner wisdom (the Self) to guide us through the tension of separation from loved ones and interrupted routines, and she suggests we spend this time in self-reflection on what is really important to us. She also underscores the importance of remembering, “…this pandemic time shall pass.”
This is also a time to consider the larger picture that we’ve allowed ourselves to forget. We are in the midst of a major transition from the Piscean Age, with its patriarchal influences, into the more egalitarian Aquarian Age. This is bound to contribute to the chaos we are experiencing but, perhaps, it is helpful to recognize we are part of an evolutionary process that has the potential to move us into a more just world for everyone.
This pandemic is a worldwide crisis that is connecting us, be it in a horrific way. It is of critical importance to embrace the notion that we are all connected—now, and always. What I choose to do on a personal level can and, as we have seen with this pandemic, does impact everyone and everything else. Knowing our behaviors during this virus can have a ripple effect, we can use this knowledge to ensure that we are individually contributing to the betterment of our environment and the society in which we live by the behavioral choices we make.
When we reflect upon what we should be learning from this crisis, perhaps we should take inspiration from the traditional teachings of Native Americans. In his book, Mitakuye Oyasin: “We are all related,” Allen Ross shares that traditional Native ways reinforce this notion that we are all one, and as such, we are to show respect to ourselves, to others, and to everything that makes up this earth we share.
Yes, we share this world with one another and, rather than continuing to separate ourselves with biases of race, gender, culture, socio-economic status, etc., perhaps, we need to honor the fact that we live in a time when we are interdependent. Carl Jung would remind us that despite our cultural, racial, or religious differences, there is a oneness that prevails because of the archetypes that connect us all.
We all participate on this earth and, as such, we have a responsibility to come out of this pandemic better people than we were before. We can embrace changes that bring us together and abandon the harmful beliefs and behaviors that have kept us apart. We must protect our planet and find ways to live in harmony with not only other human beings, but all things that make up this great earth upon which we dwell. Everything is connected, all beings, all things—we are all one.
Mehrtens, Sue. (May 29, 2020) Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic: Jung and the Coronavirus. Jungian Center for the Spiritual Sciences. https://jungiancenter.org/lessons-from-the-covid-19-pandemic-jung-and-the-coronavirus/.
Ross, A. C. (Rev, 2008) Mitakuye oyasin:“We are all related.” Denver, CO: Wicóni Wasté.