The Lifting of the Veil
The word Apocalypse is derived from the Greek apokálypsis, meaning “uncovering, disclosure, revelation.” This is in stark contrast to our contemporary use of the word as some mass destruction of the world. We can thank Hollywood and religion for that perception. Or perhaps it’s something that’s just embedded in our human psyche, a belief that in imagining the worst we are somehow better prepared for it.
Alas, the worst has arrived. We are under threat and we are not sure what from….a virus? self destruction? That a “revelation” has come, in our minds, to be associated with “destruction”, perhaps points to our stubborn human nature and our dogged determination to remain fixed in our ideas. We have to be brought to our knees, faced with annihilation, emotionally and mentally destroyed, before we can open our minds to a revealing of the truth. Many who make it to the other side of their personal apocalypse, consider the experience to be the biggest blessing of their lives. It opens their eyes to what really matters — the relationships in their lives.
What the pandemic and recent protests over the murder of George Floyd have in common is this: we are being asked to examine the relationships in our lives. The pandemic and subsequent lockdown forced us to be with ourselves and with others in very confined and constrained circumstances. The protests brought to the fore our relationships with the “other” within our white, patriarchal societal structures.
Examining our relationships with ourselves is hard work in itself. Add to that the realization which the lockdown ensures we can no longer deny — relationships with family, spouses and children are far from the ideal for which we aspire. Add to that the protests forcing us to acknowledge, in a way that we perhaps haven’t previously, that our relationships with the “other” are constrained within visible and invisible barriers constructed around our places of birth, our education or lack of, our jobs or lack of, our wealth or lack of, our beliefs.
Suddenly we are being forced to deal with all the relationships in our lives, all at once. But beyond that, we are being forced — perhaps for the first time — to consider the societal constructs that have dictated these relationships. We are experiencing a revealing of these constructs to not be as sturdy as we have been conditioned to believe.
Prior to the pandemic, we trusted our social constructs to provide us with some form of security…mostly to maintain our status quo. Nothing like a pandemic to upset the status quo, with its lack of respect for wealth, class, race, gender or sexual orientation. Nothing like country-wide protests and riots to upset our sense of security in systems that do nothing to prevent them.
And that’s just the personal level of deep revelation. On a national level, we have been bombarded with clear evidence that the United States of America is an oxymoron, a contradiction in itself. It is not united in wealth or health, two markers that should define a country with the world’s highest GDP. The country’s divisions seem deeper than ever. Political lines seem more deeply entrenched as, unlike any of his predecessors, the president is either blindly supported as a savior or derided as a fraud.
On an international level, we are called to acknowledge that a virus respects no borders and that climate change is unbiased. We are learning that humanity is in this catastrophe together, that we are indeed one, even as world leaders denounce globalism.
And to shake things up just a little, the U.S. Navy declassified videos of “unidentified aerial phenomena”, followed by the president saying he knows something “interesting” about Area 51. Earlier in the year we were told that regularly repeating radio signals were coming to us from outer space. As if what is going on down here isn’t enough to worry about.
To describe this apocalypse — this revealing — as intense, seems an understatement. Perfect vision is referred to as 20/20 vision. Oh, the irony of the year 2020 asking us to fully see so many things that have been swept under the rug, hidden in plain sight or simply ignored.
Plato’s allegory of the cave calls on us to not continue believing in the shadows to which we have become accustomed, but to embrace the reality of things as they are revealed in full light. At the beginning of the pandemic, we yearned for things to return to the “normal” that dictated our everyday lives. That normal incorporated deeply divided politics, racial disparities, poverty levels wholly unacceptable in one of the richest countries, an inept healthcare system. Shadows indeed.
Now that the light has been shone on the things creating these shadows, the future is very much for our making. Do we return to the accustomed comforts of our caves and continue believing in the shadows?
The light has been been shone on so much that needs to be made better. It is a daunting prospect to find the will to address each of these things, but perhaps we underestimate our power. We should have learnt by now that governments have little interest in ensuring every individual receives equal opportunities to education, wealth and health. A thriving population, utilizing its various skills to ensure that every individual is cared for, has little need for a government driven by greed.
The Ubuntu movement envisages a society based on “contributionism”, in stark contrast to the competition which has brought us to where we are now. What we may consider too idealistic, could quickly become reality with some collective effort. Contributionism values everyone in a society for the skills they bring and it encourages each person to be a contributor to the greater good.
In my own neighborhood, neighbors are reaching out to barter with other neighbors. Entrepreneurs are advertising their wares, reaching out for support and receiving it. Neighbors are discussing ways of cooperating to manage home schooling and activities to keep children entertained and creative.
As jobs become more uncertain, entrepreneurship will increase and that’s a positive thing. Supporting local entrepreneurs enriches our community and makes more economic sense than supporting large corporations that pay no tax. The knock-on effect of local entrepreneurship that involves a re-connection with nature (the growing of vegetables, the production of eggs, milk, honey for e.g.) is that we become kinder to the earth, righting a wrong that we have tolerated for far too long.
That re-connection with nature will lead to a greater respect for the plants and animals with whom we share the earth. The changes in our ways of living will be passed to our children and be improved upon by future generations. Change is uncomfortable and we resist it ferociously. Embracing change is where growth happens.
It’s been a rough year and we’re only half way through it. We should be working on ways to ensure that the lessons provided in this year of revealing are not squandered. We should see these lessons as the huge opportunity for positive change that they present. By doing so, we may be ensuring that when we look back on the 2020 apocalypse, we can say that it was indeed one of humanity’s greatest blessings.