As you walk around the neighborhoods of Rohnert Park, many of the houses now have Teddy Bears in their windows!
What’s going on?
It began with a Facebook group encouraging a Teddy Bear Hunt during the shelter in place. Parents and kids across California are now scrambling to find things to do with children in this time of social distancing and shelter-in-place restrictions. Neighborhood walks — inspired, perhaps, by Michael Rosen’s 1989 children’s book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” — are suddenly popping up everywhere in the COVID-19 age.
Friendly neighbors put teddy bears in their front windows. Then families take walks through their neighborhood searching for bears.
And while the Coronavirus is tragic by its very nature, some wonderful things are happening. Let's look at just a few!
We are finally slowing down!
From poor mental health to pollution, our societies’ addiction to over-production, over-consumption and over-acheivement was becoming a disaster. But as social distancing measures are being implemented around the world, a sharp increase in life-saving air quality has already been documented from China to Italy with carbon emissions reaching new lows each day because of reduced air travel.
And during this time of enforced slowness and distancing, we can now:
• Work less and spend more time with our loved ones
• Find the time to chat, read, play music and cook
• Go for long walks and engage in all the pleasures we had forgotten to cultivate
• Return to the pleasures of worship and celebrate our shared humanity and a common search for meaning.
For instance, yesterday using our Portal, Mary and I had our Easter dinner with our daughters: one in Sonoma and the other in Ireland.
Mary made up a board game for our three grandchildren to play from across the world, which all of us loved.
We are finding meaning and connections
We are striking a balance between slowness and isolation. And we are cherishing the connections we have now. Cooperation is spreading on an unprecedented global scale.
Before COVID-19, the western world was facing an epidemic of anxiety, loneliness, mental illness and rising uncertainty about the future.
According to Psychology Today, the conditions for a global panic and mental health crisis were already in place.
The COVID-19 epidemic is becoming an antidote to all this.
Mankind around the world is focusing on what matters most and cooperation has become a reality again.
What never gets reported is:
• People patiently waiting their turn and taking precautions to protect the weak
• Ongoing acts of kindness among strangers
• Friends checking in on each other
• Families spending time together
• Volunteers delivering food to elders.
• AT&T reports that phone calls have risen by 30 percent and the amount of time spent talking has also risen by 30 percent.
On a far larger scale, world governments are now coordinating preventive measures with a degree of cooperation never seen before.
• China has deployed and public health experts to assist Italy with the ongoing crisis.
• And governments around the world are implementing economic measures to assist the economically vulnerable.
Israelis and Palestinians are united to fight the epidemic.
We are paying attention to what really matters.
Illnesses and accidents always trigger a cascade of unexpected positive events. First, they tend to channel our attention toward things we usually take for granted. Paradoxically, it is not until things break down that we start appreciating them – or even remembering that they exist.
• People with asthma, for example, speak of how grateful they are for the wonders of air and breathing.
• A broken leg makes us appreciate the privilege of free movement.
• Or an unexpected inability to move effortlessly can trigger a wave of friends and relatives offering to help with a ride or a grocery store run.
It is from these minor mishaps that we come to remember our loved ones, and create or renew rituals like car-pooling, long walks with friends, or having meals together. Illnesses and accidents are also blessings for bringing families, friends and communities together.
We are now more mindful of our health and thankful for our bodies. We are reminded of all the vulnerable populations in our societies, and how much we care about them.
Most crucially, we are returning to a global society. After all, caring for one another has enabled us to thrive in the first place.
In remembering that our lives are intrinsically connected, and in taking note of the fragility of the world we took for granted, we are being reminded of how precious we are to one another.
Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent.” His seminar “Taming Your Mind, Unleashing Your Life” is now available on line at stevenrcampbell.teachable.com. For more information, call Steven Campbell at 707-480-5507.