covid-19: surviving generativity vs. stagnation

this pandemic is becoming a painful education, a concerto accompanied by an orchestra, especially one conceived on a relatively large scale

picture credit: © Alexander
picture credit: © Alexander

We are in a crisis with generativity versus stagnation. This tension: I am what survives me, is redefining sanity within the context of this pandemic. The human psyche, managing the human side of change central to the mitigation of COVID-19 and crisis management. The onset of “generativity chill” — threatened losses to “making your mark” on the world through creating or nurturing things that will outlast you.

The difference between what we are doing and what we are capable of doing, Mahatma Gandhi said, would solve most of the world’s problems.

Generativity, as Erik Erikson and others like him emphasize, is a perception that invites us to see the entire range of ways human beings leave their stamp on the future. A power we can develop, John Kotre says, that is both instinctual and psychosocial. Engaging imagination, reason, conscience, and will.

This pandemic is becoming a painful education, a concerto accompanied by an orchestra, especially one conceived on a relatively large scale. This composition is highlighting, there is an emotional bond between us and the natural environment, out of which, likewise, Lestor Brown and others disclose, we are evolving. Moreover, showing us how the health of our planet is inextricably linked to the psychological health of humanity, individually and collectively. The coronavirus, Todd DuBose shares in his personal experience on surviving COVID-19, is a lonely, desperate one. “It can’t live without us,” he says, “and it doesn’t want us to live without it.”

What is the one core issue aligned with this infectious disease? It is the nature and limits of human identity, human behavior, fundamental to human and earthly well-being.

“We must manage better the human side of change where people just aren’t going to inconvenience themselves unless we’re forced to.”

This consequence is our kryptonite. It is depriving us of our powers to become resilient and adaptable. Identifying irrational forces drawing and connecting people to their bad environmental habitsOur consumption habits are relating to deep addictive attractions. This pandemic crisis is an enabler for a musical composition for a solo instrument or instruments by an orchestra entangled in self-destructive blindness.

The Irish philosopher, mathematician, and bishop, George Berkeley of the early modern period, threw into question the primary qualities of existence. The way people perceive the world. And, likewise, the connections among world-structures, perception, and the nature of being.

“The world of all appearances, then, is the fabric woven on the loom of perceptions.”

This global pandemic is developing our identities and our meaningmaking. Our worldviews and mindshare are deeply embedded in our consciousness. This novel coronavirus and its transmission are a change agitator: Change or Be Changed; Disrupt or Be Disrupted. This infectious disease is shaping, painfully, our long-held, big-picture ideas of the meanings of life: cost-of-living, quality of lifeA gulf between rich and poorclass divide quarantining.

Goethe said, “the dangers of life are infinite, and among them is safety.” Few people welcome conflicts, says Michelle LeBaron, as an intriguing opportunity for change and learning.

Is it wrong to be afraid of this pandemic? I appreciate Warren Kinghorn’s approach and answer to this question. The medieval Christian philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas distinguished between fear as an emotion and fear as a way of living. Everything hinges on what we do with that fear. When we name our fragility, says Rev. J. Dana Trent, we are free to do the “inside work.”

We are learning, as this infectious disease spreads, we cannot survive, nor thrive, without others. But others are putting our lives in danger. The consequence, as such, compels each of us to confront parts of ourselves that we would rather avoid. The human side of change management. Resistance to changeA general sense of apathy or passive resignation similarly to what we see directed towards organizational changes, called change fatigue, by individuals or teams. Trust Your Neighbors but Brand Your Stock.

“. . .no longer demonizing our opponents as a way of asserting our own virtue but confronting our demons directly, as the only way of escaping them.” — Kenneth Cloke

We are, indeed, in a crisis with choosing generativity versus stagnation. This tension: I am what survives me. This state of being stretched, mental and emotional strain, the relationship between ideas or qualities with conflicting demands or implications is redefining sanity within the context of this pandemic. 

Economic globalization, scientific and technological progress, is shortening the distance between us, between countries, and between peoples. We are independent yet, intertwined in economic development and social security. But this can, if it is not already doing so, is becoming overturned by this severe infectious disease.

So, how do we counter the onset of “generativity chill?” Create and nurture things that will outlast us?

“Multiple worldviews and cultural differences exist among us, as do creative ways to bridge them.” — Michelle LeBaron

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