With so many conspiracy theories, self-ordained prophets portending the end of the world, and so much fake news, what can we realistically, practically, and responsibly glean from this unprecedented experience?
Here are three important lessons we can learn.
1. Love or Fear:
The pandemic has caused a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety, and it has affected us all differently, whether in terms of our livelihoods, in terms of quarantining, or perhaps there is someone we know who has contracted the virus. We each respond to crises in different ways and we each develop our own mechanisms for coping with change and the unknown. In times of crisis, when survival—both physical and mental—is essential, we reveal our core values, our beliefs, our resilience.
Some people have reacted out of fear, whether in the form of selfishly panic buying foodstuffs and other household amenities, or in the form of inventing unfounded conspiracy theories regarding the origin of the virus.
The point is that both of these reactions are born out of fear and serve only to perpetuate fear. Some self-ordained prophets who profess to be “spiritual” or a “light worker” have even gone so far as to say that the coronavirus portends the end of the world. If that is not fearmongering, then what is?
For me, the role of the so-called light worker is to promote a mindset of love and compassion that is underpinned by reason and grounded in reality, not to promote panic and to shroud facts in imagined conspiracies that only serve to perpetuate falsity and exacerbate fear and uncertainty. The point is to attenuate fear, not perpetuate it.
Many people have responded to the crisis with love and gratitude: love for their friends and families who they are separated from; and gratitude for the authorities and frontline workers who are working tirelessly to save lives, to ensure the economy does not collapse, and to guide us through these unprecedented times, not as one society, not as one nation, but as one world.
Some conspiracy theorists celebrate the idea of a new world born from the old—a world after coronavirus whereby those people in authority are stripped of their power and capitalism has come to an end. But it is a fine line between new order and anarchy.
These people seemingly have an issue with any sort of authority or hierarchy; but authority and hierarchy are absolutely essential for the safe functioning of society, for law, for order, and for civility: the police, the justice system, healthcare professions, and indeed anyone with a specialist area of knowledge or skill. If you were on a plane that were about to crash, and there were a pilot, a lawyer, and a doctor on board, then you would ask the pilot to save you: that is hierarchy. Not everyone can fly a plane, perform brain surgery, run a corporation, or lead a country. For the functioning of society, we need specialists that form part of institutional hierarchies. To celebrate the fall of authority is to celebrate the rise of anarchy. Yes, some people in positions of power are corrupt, but not everyone. Conspiracy theorists have a habit of making sweeping statements that implicate everyone, which is not “spiritual;” rather, it is grossly unfair, irresponsible, and judgmental.
Where do you stand: love or fear, authority or anarchy?
2. Responsibility or Gullibility:
Many self-ordained light workers profess to have privileged knowledge, which some claim is “channeled” from spirit or other inter-dimensional beings: they claim the world is ending, that the coronavirus is a man-made biological weapon, or linked to 5G wireless technology.
Whatever their unfounded claims are, they are rooted in fear, suspicion, and paranoia. What is more, their claims are flimsy at best, with no robust, empirical evidence to corroborate their accusations. For me, this is irresponsible. Let’s take a recent example: the conspiracy theorist David Icke has claimed in an interview with London Real that “there is no COVID-19.” Try telling that to the millions of healthcare workers across the globe who battle the virus daily, or try telling that to the thousands of families who have lost loved ones to the virus. To make such absurd claims is insulting and disrespectful to those workers and families (and this guy calls himself “spiritual”). What is more, it is downright irresponsible and dangerous to spread such misinformation.
At the one time in our human history when we need to come together, these claims are dangerous and divisive, they perpetuate panic and fear, and they are hugely irresponsible. This is not the calling of a light worker or anyone else who wishes to serve humankind. These people criticize the government, the media, and pretty much any authoritative figure or organization for fabricating half-truths, engendering fear, and spreading panic; but they are, hypocritically, doing the very same. Light workers have a responsibility not to spread fear, especially when their claims have no basis in truth or reality.
What is more, and what is incredibly disconcerting, is that many people believe the bullsh*t and follow in suit—the very herd mentality that some “light workers” criticize the “unawakened” masses for. Some conspiracy theorists claiming to be spiritual can be aggressively outspoken in their assertions, and brand anyone who does not agree with their claims as “ignorant,” “unawakened,” or trapped in fear: who are they to judge who is awake and who isn’t; and does that not sound like the ego-centered attitude of the very figures of authority they purport to undermine?
The conspiracy theorist would claim that the government has invented lies to create fear, and that the impressionable masses have fallen for it. But the mirror of this is that the conspiracy theorist has also invented lies and has spread fear (in the name of “truth” or “light” or whatever spin they put on it) and there are masses of gullible people who believe it. It is blatant hypocrisy.
At what point does responsibility descend into gullibility?
3. Your Truth or Their Truth:
With so much fear, uncertainty, and false news in the world at this time, people are prone to anxiety and suspicion. As already mentioned, the widespread fear is manifesting in different ways: in panic buying; in self-ordained prophets heralding the end of the world; and in the invention of conspiracy theories and other spurious claims that have no basis in fact or reality. These reactions to the pandemic are rooted in fear and serve only to perpetuate a mindset of fear.
It may seem as though the world is falling apart. Reason and realism are being overtaken by suspicion and scepticism: some would call it a “shift;” others would call it a backward step. We need to decide for ourselves what is true amidst the fear and the fabrication. As the pandemic affects us all in different ways, we each develop our own coping mechanisms. But it is important to rise above the bullsh*t and not be led astray. What is the reality of the situation? What do you know to be true? Forget what you have read or heard. Forget what other spiritual people believe in. Trust your instincts and have the courage of your convictions.
It is important to detach from anything that does not resonate with you and that does not align with your innermost beliefs and values. There are many people—both “spiritual” and otherwise—who are claiming to know the “truth” behind the pandemic, but all that matters is what you know in your heart to be true. What matters is how we develop our inner resilience in the face of fear, change, and the unknown in order to survive these uncertain times.
That is why it is so imperative that we are not gullibly swept up in the fear; why it is so important to detach from the media and social media; and why it is crucial to focus instead on what you know, instinctively, to be true.
You might ask yourself whom can I trust? Who is following the herd mentality? Who is reacting out of fear and who is reacting out of love? Are people’s claims attenuating or perpetuating fear? Whatever the answers, follow your truth, not someone else’s.
Please stay safe, and please stay sane.