Corona & the limits of the current paradigm

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

There is something profound in the Coronavirus – a lurking recognition in our collective consciousness that we are in some way reaching the limits of a world paradigm.  

For the past 500 years, it is the heroic mode of humankind that has demonstrated its glory – the conquering of nature, the conquering of distance itself, the conquering of many resource-based limits through the invention of new materials, and the making available of comfort and consumption to millions more than ever before.  

It is this heroic mode that has heralded –

  • the rise of individualism, and the primacy of personal freedom at the cost of family and community ecosystems,  
  • the growth of an almost infinite and often misplaced faith in our capacity to find solutions for any challenge,  
  • the theory that we are entitled to disrupt and destroy all of nature if we must, in our quest for meeting human desires 
  • the idea of competitiveness and winning at any cost

It is this heroic mode that has fueled and driven “growth” & “development”, as we narrowly understand it today, for the past five centuries.

The corona crisis may be an inflection point where the heroic mode is being called into question.  

While the heroic mode continues to remain important – in the way we find a cure, in the way brave individuals address the mounting human & social cost, in the way institutions & government organize themselves to deal with something unprecedented… a new mode is also beginning to make its presence felt. 

Let us call this new mode – the collective mode.  

If we must battle the crisis – we must act collectively rather than individually.  

If we want individuals to deal with the cost of this crisis, we must help them connect not just to institutions, but to “mutual support ecosystems” like families and communities who can give each other courage & strength, and help build collective resilience.  

If we want governments to be effective, then we need more than lock downs. We need a step-up of enlightened citizenship – where we act as responsible members of a larger collective.  

This crisis will soon pass – just as many others have passed. But this time round, we have the possibility of emerging from the crisis with a different mode – a collective mode.  

In a collective mode – we accept individualism but we also accept the importance of community & collaboration.  

In a collective mode – we seek to win, but we want others to win too, and we want the planet & society to win. We want not just personal success, but we also want collective success. 

In a collective mode – we want governments & institutional systems to be effective but we also want mutual responsibility to each other and to the planet.  

The corona crisis is a time for the evolution of a whole species from a blind individualism mode to a greater, more aware, more responsible collectivism.  

Related Readings

This article is part of an ongoing series of articles on the Coronavirus crisis. Here are the links:

Part 1 – Corona and the limits of the current paradigm

Part 2 – Fighting Covid: the missing link

Part 3 – Beyond Social Distancing & Lockdowns: It’s time to harness ‘Capacity to Respond’ in our communities