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Silver linings & hopeful thinking

By Shari Spiro

Social changes & working from home. Silver lining?

We have been hearing a lot about silver linings in the past week as we watch our governors close all non essential businesses, encourage people to stay home, forbid gatherings, weddings, parties, funerals and encourage a new thing called “social distancing”. We have seen our children homeschooling online, and some of us have had to become much more proficient amateur psychologists, cooks and house keepers (good thing I was at least already in the habit of making my bed) in a hurry, on top of already being over stressed CEO’s or bosses. We have begun to fear people coming in contact with us or loved ones who may be ill or carriers. Some people are totally without work to do. But in spite of all this – you still hear that if you look hard enough you can find a silver lining. Businesses everywhere who are able, are quickly making changes in order to try to advance carefully forward during this surreal crisis. Fortunately many companies have been setup for people to work from home for quite a while, and in theory, working from home should take some stress off of people. Being in and out of the office on different days, and driving sometimes hours to work is not easy on top of a full day of work. I’ve always felt that if people want to work from home they should be able to, but it was never fair, because in order to keep a business open, some people still had to show up physically.

New Work Culture, silver lining.

Now that we have no choice I cannot help but feel it forces those of us still busy with ongoing work, to focus even more on how to make our businesses survive. I know how productive I am from home, and I know how sidetracked I get when I’m around other people in the office. I also know and respect the people I work with enough to trust they know how to best to control their time. For now, under the circumstances, I hope they find some solace in not having to be in a place away from home for hours a day. I find myself thinking far more deeply and at length about what we need to cover in meetings, in the hope this will keep us all focused on staying on top of our changing business environment.

Freedom within limitations, silver lining.

Sometimes we craved the social atmosphere of the office and sometimes we really didn’t want that. But most people never had a choice and had to show up each day. Now, our collective plates are now more similar than not. This is a kind of new freedom, within limitations. I already see a lot of productive people accomplishing a great deal from home. I am so grateful to them all for everything they do and I encourage everyone I can to stay calm and push ahead. This also goes for our amazing and unstoppable clients

Faith in people not fear of people

I know we can’t help everyone. But simply because we can’t help everyone doesn’t mean we can’t help anyone. Social and human evolution has made a step forward, as our society that was not introspective as a rule, now becomes a society that is far more introspective. And while the human spirit is indomitable, sometimes so is fear. I believe that if, in your heart, you have lost your faith in people, then you succumb to fear. It’s hard to have faith IN people when people are in a panic. People in panic are at their worst. But that is when we need to help the most. I have had to talk some people down, more than once already. Also, I decided to setup a food share pod within my good friend Janit’s Purple Dragon Food Co-op in order to help allay people’s fears about the sudden lack of abundance at he grocery store. It is frightening to see empty shelves after taking for granted the abundance of full shelves for decades. Fortunately there are some people, like Janit, who are expert at farm to table foods and the food supply chain. This co-op now offers us an alternative way to source great organic food. I really hope that by setting up this food sorting pod in our warehouse, the arrangement for bi weekly food shares for the people I reached out to will help to dispel some fear.

Change in the world, silver lining

When each individual can clearly and linearly see where they are and what they are doing in the overarching scheme of things, do we get closer to having everyone understand a wider mission statement? As Peter Coleman from Columbia University said, “The extraordinary shock(s) to our system that the coronavirus pandemic is bringing has the potential to break America out of the 50-plus year pattern of escalating political and cultural polarization”. I assume this might be true as well. Of course THAT would be a silver lining. I prefer discussions about real things to rhetoric any day – except I wish we did not have to get to this point for people to realize how unimportant their online disagreements (with members of their own FAMILY even) really are. Can these circumstances make it easier to define our collective vision? Will we stop taking sides made up by others, and instead mix our individual views and goals symbiotically with the larger group energy? When combined without judgement, will a clear path appear for all of us? That may be a tall order, but it is a satisfying concept. Maybe this will be part of the change in the world that people want to believe is possible. I saw this quote today from a Politico Article that gave me pause: “Perhaps, … we will finally start to understand patriotism more as cultivating the health and life of your community, rather than blowing up someone else’s community. Maybe the de-militarization of American patriotism and love of community will be one of the benefits to come out of this whole awful mess”.

For me – I am just hopeful to see any one of these shiny silver linings materialize. “MAYBE SHMAYBE”, as my brother Tim likes to say. Maybe shmaybe the silver linings are what we have to look forward to.

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