Nobody has been left untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the harm being wrought by the disease itself, and the “downstream” impacts of the disease, all of us, every moment, are managing an elevated level of stress, anxiety, and fear. Being a human right now is harder than it usually is.
You might be finding it challenging to focus and generally manage your emotional responses throughout this time, especially as new developments arise and the future remains uncertain. We at CIL are feeling this along with you. In our line of work we are constantly thinking about how our brains and bodies react to ambiguity and unfamiliarity, especially in terms of cultural differences. The same reactions that happen when we encounter cultural differences are happening now, as our brain’s survival response kicks in, flooding our bodies with cortisol and putting us on edge. We are more mindful than ever just how critical it is to interrupt “othering” behaviors like xenophobia, blaming, and stigmatizing the sick, and choose instead to intentionally build a community of belonging.
We’ve also found that, in the midst of limited physical interactions, we are discovering connection in the most unexpected ways. Everyday conversation is often infused with a deeper meaning now — meaning based on our shared experience of going through difficult times together. We’ve been finding that each day offers moments to see one another in the light of our connectedness. From a conversation during the rare trips to the store for necessities, to the smile at a stranger when safely sharing the sidewalk, to acts of service and generosity to support those who are suffering the most, COVID-19 might also offer opportunities to become more mindful of people we might, in calmer times, automatically see as “other.”
We invite you to notice such moments of connection in your daily lives, as the COVID-19 crisis continues — and not only to notice these moments, but to pay a particular kind of attention during these moments: What does it feel like to connect with both strangers and friends in these times? What specific thoughts can we identify as we have these interactions? What can we take from these moments into the post-COVID future we’re heading toward, so that we can collectively transform this horrible event into something that brings humanity closer and builds a “greater us” in the long term?
We are honored to be a part of your world, and we’re grateful that, while going through this crisis is unpleasant in so many ways, at least we get to go through it together.
With all our best wishes,
The CIL Team