After almost 2 months of strict social distancing restrictions, our state government announced last week that some restrictions were being relaxed. For some, it was straight back into doing the activities that they couldn’t do before like going on hikes and visiting friends (no more than five at a time under one roof of course).
For me, I actually felt unsettled by it. I didn’t know how to feel.
For the first time in a long while, I was feeling more rested than ever before, I felt like I was making better decisions about how I used my time and I felt like I wasn’t being pulled in by consumerism because well, we all didn’t have as much to spend or we were spending our time and energy in more meaningful ways. I definitely recognised that I was being more intentional about what I bought or did not buy.
The lifting of restrictions felt like things were going back to the way it was and deep down, I knew that “the way it was” was not the best way to live or love the world or others.
What if I didn’t want life just to snap back to normal? What if “normal” wasn’t working? Something significant has just taken place and if we don’t stop and reflect, we might miss the lessons that were revealed during this time of isolation.
What I’ve realised is that during the height of the COVID pandemic, at least in Australia, our world was forced to stop for a moment and reconsider how it had been operating, work out what had gone wrong and how do we get out of it. From a medical perspective, it was pretty clear – there was now a virus that was spreading and we had to contain it and/or find a vaccine.
What has also been revealed is a lot subtler but perhaps just as sinister. A silent disease was plaguing our communities underneath the surface and if you did not stop to think about it, you might just miss it. What was this disease? Self-focus and excessive consumerism.
Our obsession with ourselves and consuming is being bred in our society by non-stop ads on TVs, computer screens and wherever you went when you left the house until it was stopped in its tracks by COVID (though admittedly, COVID has not stopped the marketing products –the products have just changed to masks and hand sanitisers!).
Whilst there have been many examples of acts of kindness and mateship shining through during this time of isolation, it has also shown that for many of us, our default is usually to think of ourselves first rather than others (remember the toilet paper fights in the aisles at Woolworths or Coles?). We’d look the other way if it meant that we didn’t have to deal with other people’s problems. We’d also try to find the quickest and cheapest way to get what we want etc.
If the COVID pandemic has taught us anything it is that when by living with a self-centric mindset, there is usually someone else who pays the price for our way of living and in the long term, we all suffer because of it.
So how can we make sure that we don’t just go back to “the ways things were” now that we can go out more and we’ll start to feel that pull to consume more again and fill our lives with more stuff?
My encouragement is to take time to pause and think.
Be intentional. Think a bit deeper about the things you are buying and who it is supporting.
Question to reflect on: Am I being selfish or am I making a difference and contribution to society by the things I choose to consume or purchase?
Taking the time to pause and reflect gives us perspective and helps us to look beyond just the “here and now” and see the bigger picture, recognise that the decisions we make today actually will impact someone else’s tomorrow.
Join me again on this journey next Monday...