Coping in a time of change …
“Treat whatever happens as wholly natural; not novel or hard to deal with; but familiar and easily handled …”MARCUS AURELIUS
This year has been a highly disruptive one for people in the West. For people in other countries, disruption has often visited. It has been interesting seeing how people have coped. And sometimes shocking to see the depth of narcissism to which many have sunk.
To see the extent to which the “I’m all right Jack” attitude has permeated social media is truly distressing. While we have citizens disabled or dying of a disease and others saying they are old or already ill and that does not matter is something only advocates of eugenics would once have considered. To see other people having their finances ruined by being one of the millions of excluded businesses or being made redundant is equally distressing.
Many of us have reduced the time we spend on all forms of social media to avoid some of the nastier comments and attitudes. While adversity seems to have brought out the best in many people who have devoted their efforts to supporting their communities, it equally seems to have brought out the childish and cruel in many others. The ‘rent-a-mob’ attacks on people who raise different points of view and setting truly trouble examples to our children and young people. The fact these are often lead by public figures with an official leadership role is doubly concerning.
We are individuals with responsibility for ourselves, but we are also part of a wider community with a responsibility to our community to prevent or reduce harm to others. It seems we find it difficult to acknowledge our dual role. A media-induced sense of panic induces an ‘every man for himself’ attitude. We justify it to ourselves on the grounds that ‘everyone is doing it’.
But everyone is not doing it. The noisiest, biggest spreaders of this doctrine are not representative of the whole.
It is time to celebrate the people who are quietly getting on with life. They are checking in on their neighbours. Making sure community members (both on and offline) are getting what they need, or quietly donating to charity to help fill the gaps left by others running out of cash. Not everyone can do that, but those that can do so are providing an essential framework for managing through a difficult situation.
Those people are not sitting on social media picking fights with perceived ‘enemies’, nor are they busy trying to demonise particular groups of people and make them suffer. That’s why we don’t hear much from them (or about them) and we get the impression that the noisy hateful ranters represent a larger community.
It is time to remember that they do not speak for anyone but themselves and the world is not created in their image or by their words, but by our quiet and consistent efforts to sustain each other during a difficult time. Acting naturally may be our biggest safeguard against hysteria and hate – and the least dramatic thing we can do.
The Emperor lived through times of plague – and ruled an empire while it raged. He did not rage or rant but continued to treat all around him with dignity and respect. He is remembered down through the ages while those who lost their tempers are forgotten names.
Coping in a time of change … Is it time to pick up the work of supporting and assisting and quietly turn our attention away from the narcissists and hate-mongers? What will you do to turn your face away from this?