More than 18 months in the running, this pandemic rages on with its chronic breakthrough infections. The strict lockdowns have led to the closures of millions of small and medium-sized enterprises, thereby inflicting widespread suffering across the globe. Many have lost their jobs. As a result, many families now are experiencing not only physical hunger but also mental anguish, if not downright depression. To survive this crisis, one has to get a grip of oneself and strive to develop “antibodies” that would enable one to confront adversities.
Incipient Spiritual Malady
At the early onset of the pandemic on March 27, 2020, I recall that fateful night when Pope Francis gave his Urbi et Orbi message in front of an empty St. Peter’s Square. Admonishing humankind, the Holy Father aptly remarked that:
“We have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything. Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste. We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick.”Pope francis, Urbi et Orbi Address at St. peter’s square, 27 March 2020
Based on the remarks above, the Holy Father decried the spiritual malady that inevitably bedeviled humankind. Sadly, it confirms that the unhampered rise in economic prosperity during the last five decades of rapid technological development has only engendered a culture of indifference fuelled by greed and self-assertion. Clearly, the pandemic has exposed man’s vulnerabilities. Hence, in order to survive this crisis, it is vital to get a grip of oneself.
Back then, life was simple and easy. Everything was fairly stable with little or no disruptions at all. Today, however, we are witnessing unprecedented events: rising infections, intermittent lock-downs, extreme weather events, global capital market collapses, human migration problems, widening gap between the haves and have-nots, etc. Indeed, the 21st Century has ushered in a VUCA world, where volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity prevail. In one fell swoop, the pandemic has shattered the realities and dreams man has aspired for.
As the horizon begins to clear up, it would do well to take time out to consider adopting the antidote, VUCA 2.0 (Vision, Understanding, Courage, Adaptability), as coined by Bill George, a senior fellow at Harvard Business School. In a nutshell, it involves the following considerations, namely:
- Vision – Given the dark clouds of uncertainty, one cannot afford to mindlessly go with the ebbs and flows of the pandemic. On the contrary, one should take stock of the current chaos and strive to see through it in order to establish a clear vision of one’s future. As such, one needs to do a deep dive into one’s inner desires and aspirations. By doing so, one is able to craft a clear mission statement that will serve as a guide in the attainment of such vision. For example, a young man aspires to do good as a protagonist in the climate change movement. To be effective, he would need to integrate his daily life in conformity with the laws of God, man, and nature. To disregard one facet out of the three integral values would eventually frustrate the attainment of the vision.
- Understanding – One needs to go into a deep dive into one’s inner strengths and weaknesses; and, analyse the threats and opportunities surrounding one’s particular circumstances. This would require a daily schedule for self-reflection. Moreover, one would need to engage in regular dialogue with peers. This will enable one to assess the essential vis a vis the non-essential data. Due to the proliferation of fake news in social media, one needs to exercise due diligence in reviewing data.
- Courage – One needs to muster strength of the will in order to confront adversities which could disrupt the plan moving forward. Simply put, a “can do” attitude could surmount any adversity that could challenge the vision. To survive this crisis, one needs to get a grip of oneself by launching audacious plans. Such passion will enable one to forge ahead coupled with patience and perseverance to endure the pains and difficulties ahead.
- Adaptability – Given the volatility and unpredictably of the times, one needs to have the ability to “roll with the punches.” In other words, fostering agility when push comes to shove will make all the difference in the attainment of the goal. Whilst changes in tactics are done in the short run, it nevertheless proves vital to remain steadfast in adhering to the vision/ mission statement and the core values already established.
Preparing for the New Normal
In anticipation of the new normal, one simply cannot afford to relax within the confines of one’s comfort zone. Rather, it behooves us to be prepared for battle, to struggle against one’s inner demons in order to win this crisis. We march on ahead with the confidence that we are children of our Father God.
Finally, always be reminded that one is never alone in this journey of life. St. Josemaria Escriva intercedes for us with his simple aphorism, as follows:
“Pray that I may never be satisfied with what is easy,” you say. I’ve already prayed. Now it is up to you to carry out that fine resolution.St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, 39