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That afternoon, it had been as though an unseen hand had drawn back a curtain and, for the briefest moment, I had seen through such a window. In a flash of “outsight” I had known timelessness and quiet ecstasy, sensed a truth of which mainstream science is merely a small fraction. And I knew that the revelation would be with me for the rest of my life, imperfectly remembered yet always within. A source of strength on which I could draw when life seemed harsh or cruel or desperate.” — Jane Goodall

“The self that we defend in isolation is just a shadow of our true self. And the connection that we make by attempting to merge with other people is just a fraction of our capacity for intimacy.

It is through inward contact with our own organism that we become capable of true contact with other people. We grow toward our true distance from other people and our true oneness with them at the same time. — Judith Blackstone

If there is one thing this pandemic is making abundantly clear it is that our individual health is interconnected — to each other, to our political and economic systems, to the broader ecology, and the other species we share the planet with. — Sunaura Taylor

The pandemic, after all, has made disturbingly visible that we are all only as healthy as our societal support systems. As the writer Anand Giridharadas put it: “Your health is as safe as that of the worst-insured, worst-cared-for person in your society.” In the United States, decades of cuts to our nation’s social safety net have left us struggling to respond to COVID-19 with an appallingly inadequate public health sector, almost nonexistent job security, and a government more concerned with maintaining profits than saving people’s lives. — Rebecca Solnit

This pandemic is a mirror of who we are and the crisis of empathy we have created. The system we took for normal that is crashing around us was also a crisis of empathy. The task of restoring a liveable future is not only a technical task, it will involve the work of becoming better humans. Empathy is central to our catastrophe and to our solution.

Shallow humans cannot save us. Technocrats should not be driving this bus. I won’t even mention the money-hungry, flim-flam politicians and captains of industry. We have to somehow connect more deeply to other people and the natural world, which means we must look inward and learn who and what we are. The shallow person has a shallow vision. That shallow, unempathetic vision threatens life on Earth.

It’s a daunting task. Humans of depth are needed now in every capacity, to speak, to write, to create, to organize and to inspire. I don’t see any other way forward. We have seen what shortsighted, greedy people can do in small and large groups — nothing less than destroy the world. We philosophers will have to step up and lend a hand to create a better world.

Yes, we are in the minority, but the world is crying out for deep connection to beauty and meaning. Letting go of the tendency for sensitive people to assume a modest profile is a small matter of life or death at the moment. We don’t have the luxury of letting the world go to hell in a hand basket while we construct our own beautiful little world.

We’re all in this together, living on the same Mother Earth.

It can be dangerous to insist we only need a better, more rational organization of life. I insist on pointing out that we desperately need to look inward, to learn what kind of heart and mind we each have, what kind of beings we are, because that’s the source of our troubles.

Keeping our vision focused on externals is why we have come to this pass. I hope those who survive the current debacle will reflect past the situation itself to their own contribution to it, and to what they can offer now that will help.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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