Immediately following the 9/11 attacks, beloved author Clarissa Pinkola Estés said, “We were made for these times.”
A multitude of folks showed up to demonstrate just how right she was. People joined hearts to help, support, listen, share, and most of all—love. Hope was born anew as people in New York, America, and the world came together to grieve in the wake of the incomprehensible truth: terrorists had masterminded a preposterously evil scheme, which claimed the lives of 265 passengers on four planes (including the terrorists themselves), 2,606 in the World Trade Center and surrounding area, and 125 at the Pentagon. In the aftermath, support from all corners emerged, helping the stricken city to rise out of the ashes of despair that tragically claimed the lives of those at the wrong place at the wrong time. We wept together and healed together while droves “made for those times” rallied to demonstrate the sheer power of compassion and connection.
Over the course of human history, our species has shown remarkable strength and resiliency through hardship. This year’s Golden Globe winner, 1917—highlighting the astonishing courage of 2 brave WWII soldiers that crossed enemy lines to deliver orders—proves the point. (If you are tempted to get all swept up in the current turbulence, now might be a good time to pull that film up.)
Or maybe you saw Hacksaw Ridge, which shares the story of another outstanding soldier, who single handedly rescued 75 fallen soldiers, one-by-one in the battle of Okinawa. That PFC, initially ridiculed for his refusal to bear arms due to his religious standards, was eventually praised and decorated as a hero. And speaking of WWII movies, how about The Zookeepers Wife, which tells the gripping true story of Jan and Antonina Zabinski, who rescued hundreds of Jews by hiding them in the Warsaw Zoo—or Midway, about brave fighter pilots who participated in winning one of the most decisive battles in the Pacific?
All of these films, as well as the events that unfolded immediately following 9/11, highlight two extraordinary human tendencies—our remarkable capacity to cultivate courage and strength when we need to, and our innate desire to help our fellow comrades in need—even if it involves the risk of putting ourselves in great peril to do so.
Facing an invisible enemy…
Look, I know this whole “virus thing” and all of the scary news accompanying it has some of us in a spin. We don’t like wondering where that boogeyman germ is hiding out, and wondering when it’s going to raise its ugly head for attack. We don’t like being out of control. And we don’t like not knowing what’s going to happen to us.
Nonetheless, not unlike what Clarissa Pinkola Estés said nineteen years ago, we were made for these times too. We know how to overcome our fear of the unknown by gathering the facts, focusing on the positive and putting into practice all that we can do, rather than what we can’t– then surrendering everything that’s beyond our control to a Force greater than ourselves. We know this is a time to strengthen our connection to those we love (and even the ones we don’t) while letting go of our resistance and anything that separates us—regardless of our political persuasions or personal biases. We know how to cultivate our grit and gumption while avoiding caving to our weaknesses. We know that if we don’t like what the leadership is doing, then it is incumbent upon us to become the leaders, who aren’t measuring up to our standards. History not only shows us that all of these statements are true, but it also demonstrates the power and momentum behind them.
In my own little Alpine community, I am awed by the dedication of the local grocery store employees, who keep greeting us with smiles and nods as we empty the shelves that they dutifully keep stocking—repeatedly exposing themselves to possible harm. And how about the front-line health care workers, who are standing by to serve us in our moments of need, or the faithful staff of our county road crew, devotedly clearing the springtime slush, or the sheriff, police officers and first responders whose service we rely on to keep us safe or rescue us from harm’s way?
When you get right down to it, we are a culture utterly immersed in loving kindness—it’s just not widely publicized. Though now, more than ever, there are examples of it everywhere. So how about we lighten up, laugh a little, and count our immense blessings, while considering where we too, can pitch in, if we haven’t already? There are many ways you can do so without ever coming in contact with another human if you’d rather not do so at the moment. Some of you are writers/bloggers. Please contemplate sending out messages of encouragement and love.
Oh yes, on a final note …
Speaking of dropping our differences, maybe this is a good time to recognize the powerful reminder that we all belong to one living organism (however terrifying and beautiful) on this glorious blue planet of ours. And reflecting on such—since it would appear that what affects you may also affect me–perhaps we should consider forgiving any and all of those we’ve held hostage for not measuring up to our expectations. Now you might have already done that, and if so, good for you. But, maybe there are a few scoundrels still buried alive in the archives of your past (or perhaps even current ones like presidents, senators, or Congressional leaders?), who get you all riled up when you think about them. Want to join me in attempting another run at letting go?
“All the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally insoluble…they can never be solved, but only outgrown. This outgrowing proves on further investigation to require a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest appears on your horizon, and through this broadening of your outlook the insoluble problem loses its urgency. It is not solved logically in its own terms but fades away when confronted with a new and stronger Life Urge.”— Carl Gustav Jung
Shall we join forces and focus on that “Life Urge,” while considering what really matters to us?”
Believing in you…
(Lucky) Friday, March 13, 2020