Our Collective Moment of Awakening Has Arrived
By: Forrest Rivers
(Originally published on the mindfulword.org)
Amid all the fearful media coverage and chaos surrounding the current COVID-19 pandemic lies a hidden truth that is just beginning to come to light: from a spiritual perspective, the current health crisis is something of a collective blessing in disguise.
Let me explain. While the world has been hit hard with both existential and economic catastrophes, something beautiful beneath the surface has emerged… unity and compassion.
Exposing societal injustice
On the surface, it might appear that mounting death tolls (particularly, among the elderly and those with per-existing conditions) and runaway unemployment have, so far, defined the narrative of this virus’s fallout.
However, what has not been adequately accounted for by the media is the fact that this ordeal has pulled us all closer together. For the first time since possibly the Second World War, the whole of humanity has been forced to confront the painful truth that ignorance, intolerance, hate and greed wind up producing terrible effects for all inhabitants of this glorious planet.
The COVID-19 crisis has exposed societal injustices that have many re-questioning the values that are guiding humanity. For example, in countries like America, the health crisis has made it crystal-clear that the needs of living, breathing people should be placed before the profit of a wealthy few.
Basic social benefits that most industrialized nations enjoy, like comprehensive paid sick leave and universal health care, have long been absent in the United States. This is due to the fact that the U.S. government has long prioritized the political and economic interests of corporations over the well-being of its own citizens.
Gratefully, all of this is starting to change. In only one month (since the outbreak of the virus in North America), the number of ordinary Americans and politicians demanding the implementation of both programs has increased.
It now seems more likely than ever that paid sick leave and universal health care will become permanent fixtures in the U.S. system, long after the crisis ends. This is a positive move in the direction of a kinder and gentler society.
Caring for others
There is further evidence of our globe’s growing unity and compassion in response to the crisis
It has been widely reported that numerous retired doctors and nurses in the United States, Canada and Europe have been coming out of retirement to courageously put their lives at risk in service of their fellow brethren. Clearly, many medical professionals are taking their Hippocratic Oath seriously. Thank you to those brave souls.
In several U.S. and Canadian cities, such as Vancouver, B.C. and Portland, Oregon, groups of private citizens have even begun organizing to provide health care and shelter to the homeless in response to the pandemic.
Portland’s Jupiter Hotel has gotten in on the act of caring for this highly marginalized group by donating several of its rooms for the homeless to self-quarantine in. Numerous reports have also begun to surface, in both the mainstream and alternative presses, that donations to local food banks and pantries have seen substantial increases since the start of government-mandated shutdowns of businesses.
This is encouraging news that sparks the hope that we may soon shift from a mindset of ‘consumer hoarding’ of essential foodstuffs and supplies to that of giving what we don’t need in this time of mass suffering. As the pandemic continues to unfold, it is inevitable that further inspiring acts of love and kindness will be on display for us all to point to and say, “See, there are signs that we are growing in our loving awareness.”
The Hindus have long believed that the entire Cosmos moves in a perpetual cycle between dark ages (those defined by ego, discord, quarrel and contention) and ages of enlightenment in which spirit, unity, compassion and faith in our divine nature prevail.
It is entirely possible that we are in the initial stages of a planetary shift in consciousness, from such a dark age to one of enlightenment. (The Hindus believe we are still in a dark age that they call the Kali Yuga, although the approximate start and end date of this era are debated by Hindu scholars.) If this is so, the current health crisis is not some cruel twist of fate or a cosmic ‘hiccup,’ but it has karmically appeared to jolt us out of our egotism and heartless complacency.
Despite the huge and tragic loss of life left in its wake, COVID-19 may well become regarded as one of our light posts on the path of a collective awakening. Perhaps, the age of enlightenment that Hindus allude to is just around the corner. All we have to do is awaken enough to recognize the signs.