The challenge of collective communication is enormous because we target different population segments with diverse needs. However, faced with the challenge of the Coronavirus pandemic, we must communicate strategically to deliver a powerful message free of prejudice that can generate a fractal impact.
What does the word fractal mean? It refers to a pattern that has no end and that is repeated at various scales. I learned this concept through art. I am a student of a Carmelo Sobrino a distinguished Puerto Rican artist. I was amazed to learn from him how we could express ourselves with infinite images by drawing on a fractal scale. Then a book titled Emergency Strategy authored by Adrienne Maree Brown came my way. It explained how messages and actions have a fractal impact on people’s lives. I am a fellow of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health Leaders program, so this current public health situation touches on my responsibility and ethics very closely.
Today we are facing an unprecedented global pandemic that challenges us in ways some of us have experienced in the past, but represent a new and harsh reality for younger generations. All countries have begun to make important decisions to stop the spread of the virus. Sadly, there have been over 4,000 deaths in Italy and Spain seems to be on a similar path, despite the health actions that have been taken in each country.
Prejudiced comments have surfaced among many people, including leaders who have disparagingly pointed to the Chinese population as guilty of everything. The reality is that regardless of where the contagion arose, which could have been anywhere on the planet, each of us has been affected. We are living a new catastrophe with public and global health compromised. The global economy has stalled: businesses forcibly closed, schools, universities, and cultural activities paralyzed. But above all, it’s the most disadvantaged populations that become hopelessly marginalized.
I never thought I would be living through something like this, and it is not my imagination or a predisposition from fear, it is reality. The virus is spreading in a fractal chain and it is time to stop this harmful contagion. It is time to activate an emergency strategy that reverses this ongoing pattern and acts in favor of our collective well-being. I ask you; Do you want to be part of that fractal movement?
Let us begin by recognizing that in a fractal way, political and interest groups have led us to follow campaigns that seek to align their opportunistic agendas to our needs and concerns. The history of our world has continually demonstrated this through hundreds of incidents that caused wars, divisions and distortions, where power triumphs and only a privileged few benefit. This is what has made social class divisions, racism, exclusion, homophobia, xenophobia, inequality, among others, a reality, and they are evident today.
If you are concerned about the economy, about jobs, businesses, and social mobility, I suggest that you think about abandoning the forced social distancing routine and develop your own fractal strategy to educate yourself and others in actions that strengthen your community. Start by being disruptive and trying new things. Now that we are forced to work remotely, focus your ideas on new skills you want to develop, things you want to learn, transform spaces into peaceful places and adapt to other ways of sharing. Technology is on our side and it is an ideal time to use it with social intelligence.
It’s a good time to unlearn prejudice. Prejudice is the process of forming a concept or judgment about a person, object or idea in advance of an actual interaction or encounter. Prejudice leads to predetermined thoughts, actions, and behaviors, and we should combat them by learning about diversity and inclusion. Diversity values race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, culture, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability, and perspectives. Inclusion, which goes hand in hand with diversity, encourages the contribution and integration of individuals and groups with cultural, ideologic, and philosophical differences.
Interestingly, we are connecting with others at a global scale and we are seeing the borders between us vanish. As walls come down, we are given an opportunity to co-create a movement for social change that honors our past, recognizes our present and traces a new path into the future. We can choose to change our focus from the what, to the how, so that we present and act on solutions together with synchronicity and with equity, in a single global heartbeat.
The great news is that all of this can be learned. We can change our way of viewing things and learn to relate better with each other to address both small and big issues we share. This wonderful book poses a marvelous question that provokes my intellect every time I read it: How do we cultivate the muscle of radical imagination needed to dream together beyond fear? I rejoice as I think about the potential of new ideas that are favorable to me, but that can only exist in the context of collective ideation and social benefit for all.
The economy moves in micro-systems that sometime cause us to isolate ourselves and assume individualistic positions that protect our interests. Covid-19 is showing us that we are not infallible, and our own frailty has knocked on our door. But like Jennifer Lopez’s song, Let’s Get Loud, we can all become part of a fractal movement that allows us to build a new worldwide community where we are accountable to each other and do so with equity, collective respect, inclusion, diversity and healthy actions for all.