Virus Economics & How to Stay Generous
The Editorial Board of The New York Times is not known for its alarmist tendencies. I quote from this morning’s “How to Avoid Complete Economic Destruction.”
“Employers, facing a revenue drought, are laying off workers at a record pace. Preliminary data indicates that more people filed for unemployment benefits last week than in any previous week in the nation’s history, shattering a record set back in 1982.”
Are you surprised?
Another article, called “Coronavirus and Poverty” had a subtitle that says it all, “A Mother Skips Meals So Her Children Can Eat.”
It’s not just one mother either. You know it.
Opinion columnist David Leonhardt’s offering is so full of righteous outrage that I wanted to applaud. “They. Sold. Their. Stock.”
Two U. S. senators, privy to closed-door briefings, profited by selling off stock in industries that would be affected by the virus. One of them invested in a technology that allows people to work from home. As Mr. Leonhardt wrote, “They could have made a difference, but they made a profit.”
Okay, that’s enough. That’s enough. We get it. The coronavirus will have an effect on the world economy; we’re already seeing it at home in the U.S. Okay.
I am afraid, but I’m not.
Every single client I have has either cancelled or postponed their appointment.
No one knows what’s going to happen.
Except, on one level, I do.
One of my blessed inspirations, Sufi Master Teacher Mark Silver (heartofbusiness.com) writes, “What the mind is absolutely not good at is taking in the unknown. When something new comes to you, the mind’s instinct is to say: ‘Hmmm, I don’t know what this is, but it’s kinda like this other thing over here. So we’ll call it that.’”
There was an article in this morning’s news about the incredible difference the nuns made in Philadelphia during the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918. The Spanish Flu Epidemic is not the Trump Coronavirus Pandemic.
What I know for sure, as Oprah Winfrey would say, is that we will get through this. It sounds so pat, doesn’t it? But I do know it, not at the level of mind, not at the level of body, not at the level even of heart, but at the level of spirit, of course.
What I do not know, and cannot know, is how EXACTLY (yes, I’m yelling) we will get through it, but no one had any idea how to get through 9.11 either, and we did. I know, I was there.
The most incredible thing to me is that every single day, I get a little more of a heart glimpse into how, and that’s why I write these essays. To share the how with you.
Today I’d like to invite you into Mystery. Not in the sense of cozies, or the intuitive investigator mysteries I write, (oh, I am giving away three books on Smashwords for a month!) but in the cosmic sense. There is a cosmic mystery that is too big to wrap our minds around. I don’t know why we insist upon trying.
Really. Think about this.
Whatever created the duckbill platypus had a use for it.W
hatever makes the sun rise and set is continuing to do so.
Whatever causes people to be attracted to one another has a purpose.
And what I am sure that means is that the coronavirus, too, has a reason.
And we haven’t a clue, yet, as to what that is.
What I know for sure, though, is that there are some basic principles of decency that obtain to all people in all situations at all times everywhere.
As David Brooks so beautifully wrote in “Screw This Virus!” yesterday, “I’m beginning to appreciate the wisdom that cancer patients share: We just can’t know. Don’t expect life to be predictable or fair. Don’t try to tame the situation with some feel-good lie or confident prediction. Embrace the uncertainty of this whole life-or-death deal. There’s a weird clarity that comes with that embrace. There is a humility that comes with realizing you’re not the glorious plans you made for your life. When the plans are upset, there’s a quieter and better you beneath them.”
That quieter, better you is inherently generous.
Like most three year olds, the best you shares naturally, is compassionate from the inside out, cares about everyone.
It’s what we learn about the world that makes us stockpile, hoard, and not share.
It’s what we learn about how the world is that makes us cruel and exceptionalist.
It’s what the leadership of the world, such as it is, tells us that makes us xenophobic.
And resistant to change.
But today, Beloved, we cannot afford such resistance. It’s too dear. Because we’re all in this together.
So here are some spiritual defaults that could help you get through this time if you’ll adopt them, and let them soothe you.
First, as Madonna sings, “Life is a mystery.”
Let your days make time and space for wonder and discovery of what you didn’t know till now. Share the wonder please.
Second, as John Bucchino sings, be “Grateful.” This is one of my top-five favorite songs.
Beloved, find excuses to be grateful. Be silly about it, be inventive, be willing to discover things you’ve never been grateful for before. Go to gratitude on the micro-level. Then tell us all about it.
Third, and this is the key to staying generous, I Must Want For You What I Want For Myself. Yes, I know I wrote it as a headline. It is.
If I want so much as a dandelion, a shoelace, or a band-aid that I am unwilling to share with you, it will only and ever hurt me.
So all those clients who called, texted, emailed, I smiled at them, and blessed them.
I know it’s a mystery as to why.
I know it’s a mystery that will be revealed.
I also know that it’s made remarkable space for me to write these essays, and the emails I’m getting that are full of gratitude — and even one complaining — tell me that these words are helping you discover new ways to be, new ways to dig deep, and new ways to give during an uncertain time.
That I may serve in this way is an honor and a privilege.