With the recent bout of social distancing and stay at home orders, we’ve discovered something unexpected – something that has nothing at all to do with the cause. We’ve found we can have a richer world.
A Frightening Pandemic
People are shuttered inside. Businesses are halting. Employees are working from home. It’s a situation we’ve never seen before.
For that reason it’s also highlighting something we haven’t noticed before. It’s something that we’ve wondered about and discussed, but never had the opportunity to see in real life. And it’s something that has no relation to the virus itself, only our response to it.
It’s uncovering the fact that we could have a richer world.
A Different Kind of Rich
Now I’m not talking about rich in money. We have plenty of money and maybe that’s what’s kept us from seeing what’s right in front of us all along.
We have so much money that we not only spend it frivolously we spend it on things that make our world poorer and not richer. It reminds me of when I had to sell nearly everything I owned.
Selling Off Everything
There was a point in my life I hit a real low. I was separated from my kids by 1,000 miles, and I was trying to figure out how to close the gap when there were no jobs to be had. I ended up negotiating a work from home agreement with my employer, but would end up making Tennessee wages while living in New York. Money would be tight.
I decided to sell almost everything I had. I had a computer, the clothes on my back, and little else. I sold so much there was little for me to take. When I moved to New York I had no car and most of my furniture was borrowed.
But surprisingly it didn’t scare me. It left me feeling free. It broke the attachment I had to “stuff”, and it made me realize I didn’t need a lot of things to be happy. It changed my whole perspective.
I’ve never been so thankful or felt so rich, not because I had too much, but because I realized I didn’t need so much. All the stress and fear of trying to “make it” was replaced by a realization that most of what I was doing wasn’t helping me at all, just leaving me stressed and fearful.
I think we are at a place where we may be discovering the same thing if we just pay attention. If we look around, we can see a richer world.
A Cleaner World
It doesn’t take long to see the impact our isolation has had on the planet. The air pollution drop in China was evident almost immediately:
Not only can you see the fish in Venice, you can see animals all over. You can see deer roaming the streets in Japan; boars, horses, and sheep, heading downtown in Italy, and monkeys swarming in Thailand.
A Better World
Not only are we seeing a cleaner world and a world where animals feel freer, we’re seeing a richer world in how we interact.
We see owners of a small shop in Scotland spending £2,000 on masks and alcohol gel for the elderly, companies making free supplies like hand sanitizer and masks, people in Italy singing together on their balconies, and fitness instructors giving free lessons on their roof to those nearby.
The fact is we’re seeing so much of what we could have: a cleaner world, a more natural world, and a better world. In short we’re seeing a richer world.
But, like me when I sold off nearly all my stuff, I didn’t get it because I planned it. I got it out of necessity.
The question is: are we willing to sacrifice to change the way we live to have a better world?
A Richer World
If you want a richer world, there are a few simple things you can do. It all comes down to whether you want a world that you work so hard to try to be rich enough to “live the good life” or you simply realize the good life is all around you and you just need to slow down and enjoy it.
If you want a richer world, do these three things:
- Focus on the Group: One of the things we have become less focused on over time is our impact on the group. We’ve become so focused on individualism that we’ve neglected our responsibility to each other. If we want a richer world, we need to focus on what we can do for each other and the resources we share instead of focusing solely on what we get out of it.
- Focus on the Supply Chain: Who made your clothes? Do you know? Was it someone who earned a fair wage or someone who worked ungodly hours for just enough to eat? Do you want a world where you live well on the backs of people who suffer or are you willing to buy products that treat everyone humanely?
- Focus on Your Impact: How much do you throw away? How much pollution do you create? Just like the clearing of the waters in Venice and the skies over China, would you be able to make the world better by changing how you live? What would it take for you to make a richer world? Just because you don’t see how your actions impact our world, doesn’t mean it doesn’t make an impact.
We can have a richer world. We don’t have to guess if it’s true; the evidence is right in front of us. In order to have it, we have to do what it takes to make it happen.
Which do you want: the status quo or a better world? We know we can’t have both, we just have to decide what’s more important to us: a hollow life or a richer world.