Feelings, Faith and Innovation in a Pandemic
Last Sunday was a particularly difficult day for me, Mother’s Day. Before this pandemic began, I would have celebrated it with the hope of adopting kids in the near future. Now our process is on hold indefinitely, and we have no idea what will happen.
I decided to stay home and give in to some tears, let some grief pass. Even though we have not given up, and my husband still talks about different options, there is a chance that this virus will have long-term effects which could cause our adoption to fall through.
I am sharing this because I believe many of us are experiencing losses indirectly linked to this virus, and it is important to meet our depressive moments with compassion and patience. I used to make the mistake of criticizing myself when I felt low or even questioning my faith, but as I near fifty, I believe that human nature opens us to a rainbow of experience. Just as we are all unique in our appearances and behaviors, we all experience feelings at different levels in different situations.
Also, I have come to believe that low feelings have nothing to do with one’s level of faith, but our faith can have everything to do with how we react to our feelings. When I feel depressed, I choose to treat myself as God would treat me. God is a loving father who would not say, hey, why are you feeling like that? Why don’t you just get back to work?or Hmm, seems like you don’t believe in me very much.
When we treat ourselves as our loving father does, we cannot help but smile after some time.
Having let those feelings pass through me, I did find some new creative energy. This morning while reading through the local news, I realized how bothered I have become by the absence of leadership in one key place: innovation.
Everywhere, we read polls indicating that people approve of staying home and are fearful of reopening the economy. We read about wearing face masks and the increased necessity for social distancing while businesses reopen.
I think we have been through a shocking experience, and some recovery from this shock is natural.
However, as we recover, I believe we all need some fight-back creativity.
Does international travel need to collapse? Or can travel be promoted to places where people gather in smaller clusters, such as cabin-style resorts? Can certain industries have online order forms in which people check boxes indicating whether or not they are high-risk for the virus or come into contact with high-risk people? These are just a few quickly brainstormed ideas, the beginnings of speculation.
My feeling is that social distancing and wearing masks are fine as short-term, emergency situation remedies, but those who are promoting this lifestyle as the new normal are not fighting back. That is troubling. When Steve Jobs was leading his company in the creation of quality products, I hardly think he accepted demoralizing practices as long-term solutions. He fought, and he created products that have empowered people. Please do not get me wrong. I am not saying we should suddenly intermingle as before. However, I do believe we need HOPE.
Innovative thinking creates HOPE.
Passivity breeds despair.
So I wrote my governor this morning. I told him that I do not believe social distancing should be the new normal in a state that employs so many of the top math-science minds in the world, and that people need to be led with hope and ingenuity. I also plan to write the mayor and my senator and representative. From now on, when I chat about the virus with my husband or my online students, I plan to chat about smart solutions that can be used soon and in case of a future outbreak. Who knows? Maybe one of us will suddenly have a grand idea, and I’ll be writing the governor again—or calling his office.
Or maybe that person will be you. Or your friend.
One thing is certain. When the creative wheels are turning, life returns.
Erica Rosi Tham