Too many of us believe, or are being driven to believe, that this is the end. We are overwhelmed by the unbelievable noise everybody is making around the virus. Fear is eating people from within, making them feel like helpless daffodils in the course of a hurricane. Our minds yearn for an explanation and our eyes desperately seek the light at the end of the tunnel. We all feel deceived, disappointed, and dwarfed by the size of our ongoing calamity. But you know what we need to do? We need to calm down and be more quiet, so that we can hear the message this ordeal is trying to convey to us. We need to take a step back, think clearly, and decide what to do while in this tunnel, before the sun shines again, because when it does – and trust me it will – there will be a heck lot of work to do!
This is a time to build… it is a beginning not an end, and so we should think and behave, while helping everyone around us to do the same. This is a time of great opportunity, a grace period to prepare for the World we want to make. I say ‘make’ because, as far as experience shows, the majority of events in our lives are ones over which we have direct control; events that we choose to happen. Yes, we made the World we were living in, and we’ll have to make the World that we will live in next. The ultimate question however is: “What World do we want to build?”
This is a time to build… a great opportunity to re-imagine our existence, reshape our humanity, and rethink our purpose. We have lately grown so much vicious and ungrateful; vicious about our wants, and ungrateful about what we have, all much to our dissatisfaction. We have long been infested by so many viruses to which we were totally oblivious. But the irony of this universe is that nothing in it is for free. For every action, there is an equal (possibly even disproportional) and opposite reaction; and frankly, we have pushed our luck with this rule to the max! Corona virus was nothing but the Trojan horse that unveiled the viruses which have been gnawing humanity for decades. The most dangerous of those are “The virus of Taking things for Granted”, “The virus of Indifference”, and “The virus of Self Glorification”, all of which are 1 million times more dangerous than Corona.
The Corona virus is just an alarm. Sometime soon, we will stop it, and eventually it will become history. Yet, the above viruses are like cancer. They only get worse, and if we do not stop them, they have the potential to wreck the world beyond anyone’s ability to fix. Before Corona put the world into a full halt, humanity was in advanced stages of this cancer. We have taken all our blessings for granted, including family, friends, work, and possessions, all to the extent that we were no more able to cherish their value. We deserted what matters most and went out seeking treasures that we all had in front of our eyes, at home and under our pillows. We have become so much cold and indifferent to those who are weak, miserable, and in pain, to the extent that we learned to pass by them, every day, without even noticing that they exist. We have went down a swirl of self-glorification to the extent that we turned into self-centered narcissistic creatures who care for nothing but how we look, what we wear, and how many ‘likes’ did we accumulate. We have so much embraced this last virus, boasting with our physical and mental vices, that we began to think we are gods; many of us even driving the real God out of their lives.
However, this is a time to build… it is not a time to pity ourselves over what have we become, nor it is a time to mourn our previous way of life. It is a time to sow the future that we want to see when this endemic is over. Yes, a lot of people will lose their lives; a lot of people will lose their jobs; the world economy will be disrupted, and many economies will fall; there might be violence and crime; poverty will be on the rise, and we will witness a lot of social problems and miseries. But give me a time when humanity was not as disturbed, albeit a fluctuating disturbance. The World in the 17th and 18th centuries was struggling with smallpox and cholera, both of which were morbid diseases. Too many people were dying, thousands of people were jobless, there was no real world economy, wars were littering Earth, and society was not unified around universal values. But despite this gloomy picture, our ancestors didn’t surrender; instead they made it a time to build, and six decades into the 18th century, the Industrial Revolution was marking the turning point of human history.
In the first half of the 20th century, the World was drowning in a sea of antagonism and global hatred that was tearing it apart. Human beings were so much blood thirsty that they managed to fight two world wars, killing more than 115 million people; that reads One Hundred Fifteen Million People! Few more millions also died of Spanish Flu, Cholera, Typhoid, and Hunger in all parts of the world. In the aftermath of these disastrous times, millions of people were jobless, the world economy was literary destroyed, poverty was skyrocketing, and society was dismantled and infested with fear and despair. Still, our grandparents did not surrender. They continued building the modern world that would offer us the means of easy living we are still enjoying today. The second half of the 20th century was an age of breakthroughs in technology, medicine, engineering, transportation, welfare, services, and mass production that changed life on this earth forever.
This is a time to build… Although politicians, ill-mannered lobbies, and disturbed theorists still manage to wreck the party every time it gets going, this is no excuse to fall into surrender and despair, because the alternative is mere nihilism. We are living beings, and ‘Life’ is our nature. Life means energy, movement, action, initiative, adaptation, and growth. Choosing not to act, means that we are opting to drown into emptiness. If we are alive, then we need to keep showing signs of life, else we would be good for nothing but a cold grave. It is in the dark of early dawn that bakers prepare the dough, and travelers set for their trips. It is in the cold of the winter that lumberjacks sharpen their saws, and hunters oil their guns. Beirut was destroyed and rebuilt 7 times; Rome and London were burnt down to ashes; San Francisco, Lisbon, and Tokyo were all destroyed by earthquakes, yet rebuilt to the vibrant cities we see today. These are historical facts not myths; they are a demonstration of how human will contracts life every time it passes through the valley of the shadows of death. The most pressing question for humanity today is not whether we will rise again – because we will – rather it is “What World are we going to build tomorrow, in light of the experience we are going through today?”
The future is in our hands, and that is why today is a time to build.
As Individuals, this is a time to build our immunity against shallowness, trivia, indifference, and greed. It is a time to nurture a mindset of abundance, and train our brain to embrace positivity. This is a time to reflect on our past choices and decide on what needs to stop, what needs to start, and what needs to change in the future. This is a time to entice our thinking with new perspectives, and explore opportunities on how we want to contribute to the new world. This is a time to get closer to each other, and reconnect with true love. This is a time to make peace with ourselves, and let go of our grudges and disappointments. This is a time to fix what was broken, and declutter our homes, hearts, and minds. This is a time to envision and strategize; a time to plan and sharpen the saw for the tough mission that awaits us all after the endemic is over. It will not be easy by any means; tomorrow seems woeful and scary because we are finding it extremely difficult to learn what will happen next. But one thing we should not forget, is that we determine what happens next. Today, each one of us is holding a brick, and it is up to him or her to determine whether to build a wall, or a better future.
This is a time to build a new World…
Parents, discover your gems and enjoy their presence for tomorrow they will go their way;
Teachers, stay connected with your students, they are your lifetime projects and need you to help them;
Students, it may not be the ideal time to study, but it sure is a perfect time to observe, read, and learn;
Authors, start writing your new book to tell stories of inspiration and courage, and share lessons from one of the most intense episodes of human history;
Professors of Medicine, prepare the lessons you will deliver to your students on how to beat Endemics;
Engineers prepare blue prints of affordable decent houses that can be built in 10 days for poor people all over the world;
Researchers, triple your efforts to find cures in much shorter times. We know it is extremely difficult, but so was our landing on Mars. Please try to find creative unconventional ways, there must be some;
Economists, start working a way out of the recession to come, while embracing a mindset of abundance. There is plenty for all, Ethiopia is fertile enough to feed bread to the whole world, let alone Ukraine;
Lawmakers, draft proactive laws; those that help organize the lives of people during and after crises;
International Organizations, reconsider you raison d’étre, and if any, transform yourselves into more resilient and agile bodies with an upgraded purpose for a post endemic world;
Consultants, conceive operating models, structures, and strategies for developing more responsive, innovative, and unconventional organizations and governments;
Artists, prepare for your next hearts’ winning movie, play, song, exhibition, or act today, so that you present them to the world tomorrow;
Developers design Apps and Games of peace that help people come closer not apart;
Business people, prepare to manage prudently, and accept humble profit margins as a gesture of contribution to a more financially humble world;
Priests, Sheikhs, and Cohens give plenty of what you have, and prepare for healing the wounds of broken souls. Most critical, pour respect and love to all humans into the minds and hearts of your followers;
This too shall pass. We are blessed with forgetfulness, and time takes care of our wounds, leaving behind mere scars. However, what matters today are the thoughts dominating our minds, and the actions we will take in preparation for the future. Choosing to back down and surrender is always an option, but it is a painful one, because it will determine who will live and who will die, both literary and metaphorically. This is a time to build; a time to make good choices for a future that will not be as friendly as our past. Reminiscing on the good old days is not wrong, but it will bear no fruits for tomorrow. Focusing on what is yet to come, and reflecting on the future we want to build will definitely be rewarding. The future will be for those who remain sober, keep their composure, maintain their positivity, think abundantly, and plan what is next clearly. Choosing today to be busy about tomorrow, will make all the difference in our lives. Most of our current circumstances are not at hand, but they will once this time is over. Most important after this ends, is to learn two major lessons: how not to repeat our mistakes, and how to build a ‘better’ new world. This will be our legacy for coming generations; they will say: “people who lived through the age of Corona, did not surrender on us”. This is why it is a time to build.
Charles S. Saliba
Organizational, Leadership & HR Expert
Copyright – Charles Saliba © 2020