I’ve watched how nervous we have become this past week — spinning into a retail apocalypse, hoarding canned goods, frozen foods, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer like it’s the end of the world. It’s made me think long and hard about the way we are dealing with this coronavirus crisis. The tremendous amount of uncertainty has made people very anxious, which makes it the perfect storm.
The media’s constant coverage of consumers frantically buying supplies in insane amounts scares many of us into doing the same, but what is the bigger picture here? People are trying to get a sense of control by going into a buying frenzy, which can be a false sense of control. Don’t get me wrong. We all need to prepare with food and supplies, but stockpiling to the extremes shows our privileged mindset when we don’t allow there to be enough for others.
“Hoarding and stockpiling in excess can’t relieve our anxiety. In fact, it may make it worse.”
How do we avoid the pitfall of all this anxiety? Digging deeper into consumerism may not be what is good for us right now. Maybe there can be a clearer vision adopted during this outbreak so we are not perturbed by the uncertainty of what’s happening.
We can use this time we are working from home or quarantining ourselves to contemplate and think more deeply about the meaningful message we are being forced to face. How do we avoid the pitfall of all this anxiety? The Baha’i Writings clearly tell us that there is a spiritual lesson in everything we face as humanity. This coronavirus crisis can be an impetus to get spiritually prepared for any emergency or disaster that may happen. Hoarding and stockpiling in excess can’t relieve our anxiety. In fact, it may make it worse.
The Bahai writings also give us the understanding that there is a spiritual force at play. The obvious force right now is the force of the oneness of humanity. Baha’u’llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith wrote that “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established” (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah).
We see around us that the affliction of one is an affliction of all. As Baha’u’llah wrote, “we are all the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.”
So, let me start with me: I’ve been asking myself, how can I put my spiritual principles into practice right now with my own family and our neighborhood? How can each of us choose to react differently at this moment?
“this virus is a reminder that we are all in this together”
Instead of hoarding, we can continue to build communities and neighborhoods that share kindness, wisdom, food, and supplies to help each other through this difficult time. Our family decided to reach out to our neighbors, open our pantry to the community, and let them know that it is better for all of us to suffer a little than for one family to suffer a lot. We let our neighbors know that we love them, and this virus is a reminder that we are all in this together. The Baha’i writings tell us:
The interdependence of the peoples and nations of the earth, whatever the leaders of the divisive forces of the world may say or do, is already an accomplished fact. Its unity in the economic sphere is now understood and recognized. The welfare of the part means the welfare of the whole, and the distress of the part brings distress to the whole. – Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day Is Come
Let’s face it — it is with unity, love, empathy, and spiritual awareness that we relieve ourselves of the fear and anxiety we see around us. It’s with love that we can face the greatest obstacles in this world, even when it comes to coronavirus.