16 May Crisis As a Pathway to Peace
By Kira Kay
We are currently living in unprecedented times with the impact of the COVID-19 virus impacting every country simultaneously and literally billions of people being affected in one way or another. A global crisis that is changing our world profoundly.
I am feeling deeply touched by the many stories of kindness to one another that are emerging through this crisis: neighbours helping one another in various ways; strangers reaching out to help and support elders or disadvantaged people in their community; violent gangs putting aside their fight to work together to help distribute food to the most needful in their communities; governments releasing non-violent prisoners to reduce their health risk; a 100-year-old man inspiring hope and raising millions of pounds in support of health workers; 5-star chefs volunteering in school canteens to cook for children of essential workers; strangers giving others money or a place to stay or food – the list of compassionate acts I am witnessing and hearing about is unending and, for me personally, profoundly uplifting.
It is reminding me that we are able to rise in compassion and care for one another.
We human beings are hardwired for social connection. We are innately designed for empathy and compassion, hence the capacity to care for and support one another. Our ability to rise with hope, to look beyond adversity to possibility, enables us as individuals, as communities and as a species to evolve with whatever crisis we face.
We are a profoundly interdependent species – even with our various cultural, racial, spiritual, financial/class, and political differences. This current crisis is highlighting the simple truth of our individual and collective vulnerabilities, as well as the natural strength and potential inherently within all of us.
When we are overwhelmed with fear and anxiety it is easy to forget our interdependence and fall into the illusion of separation, loss and despair. Our default in survival mode can exclude other people and the potential for support that may be present, while giving us an illusion that we are “surviving”. Thriving, however, happens when we can let in the kindness of a stranger, the person behind you in the checkout who noticed your fear and panic when your credit card was declined and simply moved forward and paid for your groceries. The rush of positive overwhelm, of hope and possibility, that follows such an act is both healing and motivating. In that moment of a “random act of kindness” not only did the receiving person benefit, but everyone witness to it will have received an uplift. An uplift that has a ripple effect throughout their day and may perpetuate a wave of kindness.
We all respond to kindness.
Try it out for yourself – do not just believe my words here. I encourage you to experiment for yourself, to experiment with one or two acts of kindness today. Just do it and see how you feel . Be open to what is presenting in your life and see if there is a window to act, to give of your time/money/resources and support another person/family. Notice what you feel when you do it. Notice what you feel for the rest of the day.
It is possible that you might feel a deep sense of peace, a feeling of contentment.
If we are personally secure in our life situation but others around us are in pain and suffering, it is unlikely that we will feel that deep sense of peace and contentment. Ultimately, we are so profoundly interdependent that we pick up on and feel each other’s emotions of suffering and pain. Even if we are not conscious of this effect, it somehow does affect our behaviour and our experience of happiness and peace.
One person alone cannot relieve the suffering and pain of every single person in the world. Yet if each one of us took one small action of support and kindness to another in the form and way that is easy for us, it may indeed go a long way towards creating a natural and organic web, alleviating stress and fear for many. A positive pandemic wave of kindness, care and compassion.
The impact of the current crisis is likely to have a ripple effect in various ways for some time ahead. Uncertainty and fear will be prevalent for many people. Decisions and actions arising out of anxiety are rarely our best. Fear driven decisions can lead to conflict, hurt and pain. It is OK and wholly normal to experience fear and stress in such a time of change and uncertainty. Breathe deeply and allow space to simply “be” in this moment. Take another breath. Being vulnerable and lost is ok. Sometimes being vulnerable can even help us to see new doorways in a life situation, as we let go of old ways of looking and thus see new horizons.
What can support all of us is to be reminded of connection, care, kindness and hope. Receiving a caring smile or kind words/action can take the edge of our anxiety and allow space for our wise self to arise. Remembering to laugh out loud (personally I think this is one of the best medicines!) and connect with other people in ordinary moments. To be reminded that the sun will rise again tomorrow – and tomorrow is indeed a new day filled with hope and possibility.
Crisis situations, such as we are experiencing, create opportunities – separation, fear and conflict are often the obvious first choices, but if we look just a little further within and around us then connection, hope and peace are even more obvious.
Will you join me – us – in sharing in this wave of hope and peace – nourishing kindness and connection wherever you find yourself?
Kira is part of the Peacing Together Team. She runs retreats, workshops, private consultations, counseling sessions and is the creator of Hands with Hands, a social impact project that she created in Nepal. CLICK HERE or on the link below to visit her website and find out more.