The Spirit of Solidarity

OK. It had to happen, didn’t it?

You know what I’m talking about – yet another article on the dreaded Coronavirus!

It’s something we don’t really want to talk about, right?

But bear with me – because despite all the negative feelings and anxiety surrounding this epidemic, there are positive ways we can look at it.

I teach online to students from around the world, including a lot from heavily hit places like Japan and Italy.

And one word keeps coming up in discussions about the situations there: solidarity.

Ironically, despite the fact that we need to keep a physical distance from each other, it seems that people are rediscovering a sense of community, solidarity and mutual support.

So today, I want to take you on a small journey.

We’ll start by describing the crazy, difficult situation we’re in.

Then we’ll look at ways we can talk about our negative feelings associated with it.

We’ll then move on to talk about positive change.

Then, finally, we’ll look at phrases we can use to encourage each other, make each other feel better and move on together.

Let’s call it the spirit of solidarity under the cloud of Coronavirus.

And it looks like this:

Describing a difficult situation

I suppose it was in December when we started to see trouble brewing. We started getting more and reports from China. The numbers were getting higher and higher, and things started to look more and more problematic.

It was clear that, at the very least, China was in a bit of a pickle. However, we didn’t know quite how serious the issue was until the events started to unfold before our very eyes. As the pandemic spread, it was getting clearer and clearer that we were up shit creek without a paddle. The “shit creek” being the pandemic and the lack of paddle being the lack of a vaccine against it. Oh, dear … Houston, we have a problem!

You might even say we were in dire straits. No, not them:

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The band actually got their name from the phrase meaning “in big trouble.” Which is where we are at this part of the journey.

So what can we say at this stage? Well, one phrase I keep hearing again and again is “We live in interesting times.”

And we really, really do. It seems that Stephen King has been tasked with the job of writing the script for 2020. And you know what? He’s really on form.

Feeling stressed and uneasy about the situation

So now we know how bad it is.

And it’s pretty bad.

Uncertainty dominates our lives.

Almost all of my online students are on complete lockdown. They can only really leave their houses to get some food but otherwise have to be there all the time. A lot of them, especially those stuck with their young children 24/7, are completely climbing up the walls, desperate to leave the house – if only for a few hours.

Some people might be at their wits’ end or at the end of their tether. In other words, they might feel like they’re going a little crazy in this new, somewhat intimidating situation.

It may even be worse. Some people might actually be beside themselves – unable to think straight or think rationally.

(I warned you this would be the lowest point of the journey!)

But you know what? There’s reason to be positive.

Change for good

When I was in my late 20s, I decided to get into tarot cards. Don’t ask me why. I think I was a bit lost in those years.

One thing that I liked about them was that each of the 78 cards represented a different facet of the human condition.

Some of them, (the Minor Arcana) represent small, detailed, almost imperceptible states of mind.

Others, (the Major Arcana) represent the big things that affect our lives. Usually from outside.

And there’s one card that’s particularly famous (and particularly misunderstood).

It’s the one that always appears in films.

Yep, you know it … wait for it … THIS ONE:

Ooooohhhh … death! Scary!

Well, this card is completely misunderstood.

Death (the card, not the phenomenon) is actually a good thing.

It represents new beginnings and the death of old, unnecessary habits, lifestyles, mindsets and so on.

And that’s why I want this card to represent where we are now.

Because despite all the inconveniences, uncertainty and stress that Coronavirus is giving us, we can take this opportunity to embrace the change it’ll bring.

The virus has wreaked havoc on our lives and caused a lot of damage, much of which cannot be undone. However, it is also doing a good job of shaking things up. Whenever this happens, it can, if we let it, help give us a new lease of life and breathe new life into our society.

Perhaps it’s time to turn over a new leaf? We can start washing our hands more, getting more in touch with our neighbours and communities and form better, more sustainable habits. We’re really in a position to make a fresh start with our lives. We can adopt a change of pace, start to slow down and see things from a different angle.

Change can be a good thing, right?

But there’s reason to be happy.

So, as you can see from what I wrote above, I’m essentially an optimist.

I’m not a glass-half-full kind of guy.

I’m more a look-how-aesthetically-pleasing-that-glass-is-when-it’s-half-full kind of guy.

But, although mindless optimism can be annoying sometimes, I think it’s important to remember that there’s a silver lining in everything. With this epidemic, the silver lining is the fact that we’ve become more supportive of each other, and we’ve come to understand what’s important in life.

And remember! There’s light at the end of the tunnel! You just need to look to China, where the number of cases has finally dropped, they’ve closed the last of their emergency hospitals and slowly, but cautiously, life is returning to normal.

So here’s my advice for now: Hang on in there! Keep your chin up! Hang tough and together we can see it through this madness.

If you insist, we can even keep a stiff upper lip and keep calm and carry on.

Gabriel Clark, LOS Consultant & Clark and Miller Co-founder