Since my first post dealing with the impact of coronavirus, the death rate in the USA has increased from 93 to 217 (average of 32 deaths a day), while deaths related to the ‘gun virus’ have increased from 8144 to 8460 (105 deaths per day).
The whole world now seems to be in lock down, with border closures preventing the movement of people. In addition, many towns and cities are ghost-like as people have gone into self quarantine, and bunkered down. The family system has now also closed its borders to the outside world.
Over the past week, our global system has gone on a runaway in its efforts to deal with the coronavirus. We have never experienced such a challenge before. We are in an unbalanced state as the domino effect kicks in on all levels of society. When one country closes its border, another follows, with the rest following rapidly. This cascades down further, within each country itself. If one restaurant closes, the domino effect kicks in and the rest follow. If one sporting code decides to cancel a season, other sporting codes follow. No one wants to be seen to not be responding. While these decisions might be imposed by government or reached by the respective institutions, a runaway gets triggered. This is the process of how a system implodes.
Runaways are activated when a system loses its ability to self regulate and to be in balance. Extreme actions and excessive gyrations of extreme reactions are activated as processes get unleashed that impact all levels of the system. Everything that constitutes and defines the system is affected. In this regard, it is interesting to watch the financial markets, since they reflect these uncontrollable swings in a system that is on a runaway.
This runaway is usually internally triggered by an unhealthy system that needs to change.
In time, systems do eventually find a new equilibrium. Ecological systems have a deep wisdom of their own. We need to trust this. New patterns of interaction, new ways of thinking and acting start to emerge as the system searches for a new balance. In the process, the system undergoes a significant change.
Many paradoxes come to the fore when dealing with ecological crises. The reason why paradoxes emerge is that the interdependence, interconnection and circularity of processes that exist in a system, have not been fully understood or respected. Further, these delicate interconnections are not always evident when a system is in equilibrium. In fact, a healthy system seems to function and evolve effortlessly, with checks and balances in motion.
Limiting the movement of people, and reducing contact with others by creating social distance, is the most effective way to tackle any virus (not only the coronavirus). However, the closure of borders (within countries, societies and families) has created a world that feels so unnatural and strange. The imposed restrictions go against our deep need to connect and to feel a sense of belonging with others, since loving touch and physical contact with others is a vital part of remaining healthy.
Closing borders between countries is a necessary global response, but in doing so we are in fact experiencing, first hand, the sort of world that nationalistic, populistic leaders are advocating for, in times when there is no global crisis. The closing of borders in the present crisis, however, does not mean that we are fighting each other, but rather paradoxically we are working with each other. It is not a ‘them versus us’ response. In this regard, we are all in the same boat, existing in our closed political and social systems.
As families close their own little borders, separating themselves from the wider community, internal stresses unfold. As parents try to work from home, work and family dynamics may clash. The line between doing work and dealing with family demands, gets blurred. Depending on the developmental stage of the family, parents will be stressed further as they may need to take on educational duties in order to keep their children busy and stimulated. Allocating time for work, play, study, leisure so that the family system can fully function, is a fundamental challenge for parents during this time. New patterns of interactions and routines will need to be found as the family experiences the challenges of blurred boundaries between work and family demands, fun/play time and ‘school’ time, exercise time and quiet time. This may require parents to work while children are sleeping, which in turn eats into their ‘sleep’ time. This could result in fatigue as time goes on, as the family has only its own internal resources to call on.
At the moment, the medical system is under severe stress and is vulnerable, since no vaccine has been developed yet, to treat the virus. In time, however, the scientific and medical system will ‘catch up’ in its understanding and in the process find the ‘formula’ to treat coronavirus effectively. Until then, we need to wait for science and medicine to unravel the ‘complexity’ of the virus. As we wait, we will encounter our own stresses as we try to deal with the abnormality that every country finds itself in.