Creativity in crisis
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is triggering a stress reaction in our brains. With mindful practice, we can accept the fact of the pandemic and activate a profound creative response to mobilize creative resilience. Every time we find our mind distracted by a ‘what if’ thought about the virus, we can refocus our attention to our body, breathe deeply a few times, and focus on gratitude for our body, our mind, and those we love.
Mindful practice empowers us to face crisis. In crisis, the brain literally freezes. It stops doing. As cognitive and emotional circuits boot up to process the threatening event horizon of the moment, it reflects on the situation rather than fight or flee. It is in this glimpse of imagined outcomes that the mind draws on experience, opens awareness to inventive solutions, and makes critical decisions to act. This is the moment where mind directs the body to calm down, to activate creative mindfulness, and to experiment with life-saving action. This process, our genetic heritage, has protected homo sapiens for millennia.
If we use this crisis in human history as a mirror of our behavior, we can begin to resolve the natural conflict between our self-centered attitudes and behaviors and our collective creativity.
Crisis recruits our primordial tribal instincts to band together for survival against a common enemy. Collective creativity, grounded in science, objectivity, and compassion lights the way toward a leap in cultural evolution that may finally empower Species Tribalism—we are all brothers and sisters.
We are participating in transforming human history. It is time to rethink the global village. It is time to redesign our relationships with every human being for the survival of our species. It is time to mobilize cultural evolution.
Coronavirus = Species Tribalism.
Beyond crisis toward global humanism
COVID-19 triggers our deepest fears. The virus is also activating our greatest potential—the hardwired ability to calm down in the face of crisis, to connect mindfully with each other, and to create solutions to the problem.
Our global community is an emergency room. Life as we know it has stopped. Every family is threatened. Our doctors and nurses are risking their lives as warriors at the front line of this new battle. The basic sciences are in full-on search for new tools to protect our species.
It is a time for collective creativity. A human imperative drives cooperation and coordination with each other to protect the global village. We are seeing an awakening to the stark fact that our attitudes and behaviors can be the difference between life and death.
Our brains are loading new memories. Powerful traumatic images of our collapsing world order are being tattooed into our brains. The acute stress we are enduring as the pandemic leaps across borders, as the death tolls rise, will give way to massive posttraumatic stress that will shape our future. We will be faced with questions and choices of how we adapt.
Nature demands a creative response if we are to evolve from the world we knew. Our survival requires a collective action. Preventing the spread of disease requires that we reflect on our traditions, prejudices, and nationalistic interests if our species is to survive.
The socioeconomic structures that create financial disparity in the world are collapsing. We have a robust capacity to create jobs and prosperity and to design a new world and create a sustainable biosphere. But the distribution of financial security is skewed. Biology is challenging our financial institutions.
Medical science is playing a critical role in shaping the new world. Humanism, the core of medical practice, is acquiring new status in policy and action. Medical intelligence is the new foundation of national and global security. Global warming, terrorism, and gender politics are being preempted. Military force is being retooled to fight a microscopic enemy. Political interests will be driven by life and death decisions. Religious dogma is challenged by humane, spiritual meaning.
Choosing creative optimism
As individuals, we can find balance in riding through the crisis. Like surfers on a wave—balancing our mind (the surfer) and body (the surfboard) on the event horizon of the COVID-19 (the wave)—must be mindfully present to the moment. Our stress system can be easily distracted and trigger a ‘wipe-out’.
As surfers say, ‘The wave is a great teacher of mindfulness’. We can use COVID-19 as an experiment in human creativity, cultivating our genetic potential as the foundation of a new epoch of Species Tribalism.
We have been through this before. After the Bubonic Plague annihilated 75 to 200 million people (30-60% of Europe), we created the Renaissance.