By Ziri Rideaux and Brendan Miller
The spiritual and mythological lessons from Covid-19 are still unappreciated. We are confronted with the “Hero’s Journey” as described by Joseph Campbell. Other than in the Hollywood version of heroism, the mythological “hero’s journey” is about the “Dark Night of the Soul”. We are faced with seemingly overwhelming odds and come to our individual and societal breaking points, where we lose hope, abandon our dreams and can’t see a positive way forward.
In indigenous cultures, an initiation ritual is performed during adolescence to induce this breakdown of the ego. The individual realizes s/he has to surrender to nature and accept being a part of it instead of aspiring to rule and control it. Western societies have failed to offer this to us. American society as a whole has reached “grown up age” without ever encouraging a breakdown of the ego that teaches humility. Instead, men are expected to be loud-mouthed leaders and always claim to have the answers. For Western cultures, Covid-19 is the mass-induced initiation ritual into real adulthood. We need to break down to break through.
With excessive aggressiveness, Western societies have forced a male-dominated worldview onto human cultures all over the globe. Science, which is perfectly aligned with the male, reductionist and deductive perspective, is expected to answer all questions. In comparison, the female perspective focuses on the intuitive understanding of complex networks in societies and nature and allows for a wider, inclusive perspective.
By their very nature, men have been conditioned for 1000s of years to be individualists. Traditionally the hunters and warriors of the tribe went out on adventures, while women and children stayed behind. Women created complex social support systems to rear children and care for the old together, to gather, prepare and share food and services. Their natural instinct is to work together, to negotiate and share. The female idea of wealth stands in opposition to the current, male-dominated societies that create value by exclusivity and scarcity, instead of inclusivity and abundance for all.
The Covid-19 challenge has again been handled with an all-male attitude: We are being told by (male) scientists that “we are at war”. We have been ordered to “social distance” and separate from others as the only way to “fight” the virus. No efforts have been made to understand the role of the virus in our evolution. The male warrior approach wants to kill the strange and unknown. It’s the female approach to inquire and negotiate – and eventually integrate. Only a few women-governed countries like Sweden and Iceland have embraced the female approach: they have not shut down. As people are exposed to each other, they develop herd immunity. Strength in numbers, healing through mutual support. Their strategy has been successful and has not caused the trauma of separation, being locked in and scarcity.
True to their exclusive nature, the Western, male approach for how to deal with Covid-19 is only possible for a tiny segment of this world’s population: it only works for the wealthiest societies, dominated by male values of separation and control. It doesn’t work for people that live communally, in close quarters. Social distancing in India and Africa is nearly impossible.
The Covid-19 crisis is a healing crisis that encourages us to question the male approach towards governing, sharing and healing. The current “solution” has brought on loneliness and despair, panic, increased suicide numbers and poverty. The clear message is: “United we stand, Divided we fall.”
Covid-19 has been a very effective teacher to understand that our societies are only as strong as their weakest link: We learned that our health care system is only effective if EVERYONE receives equally adequate care. We learned that we have to guarantee each individual basic supplies of food and shelter. Otherwise, their physical or mental sickness will spill over, into us. We learned that we need to limit greed in the individual for the benefit of all: If the most predatory individuals hoard 100 toilet paper rolls, the rest of us will get nothing. We learned that we can act fast in a crisis – and to apply this resolve to avert global warming.
As above so below: We learned we cannot trust the elites to distribute our wealth evenly to end suffering. They have taken the lion share of our resources for themselves in bailout money and left us with taxable $1200 checks.
The feminine wisdom knows how to intuitively and gracefully act and live in the face of uncertainty. It adjusts with lightning speed. The masculine rigid logic demands certainty in numbers that cannot be obtained quickly enough to navigate fast-changing situations. It’s always a step behind.
The Covid-19 crisis requires a turn towards a feminine-system solution. It is an invitation for men to integrate their denied female side and learn to listen to their intuition. It is an invitation for women to integrate their inner maleness so they garner the courage to speak up and finally be heard. We are faced with the same challenge bacteria faced billions of years ago: to competitively fight each other and all go extinct – or to cooperate and build multicellular organisms (like humans), egalitarian societies and sustainably live together.
The aggressiveness displayed by the male scientists, politicians, media and even FB-commentators shows: they are collectively fighting for survival. To contradict the male interpretation of the Covid-19 experience is to shake the foundation of male absolute power. We are at a watershed moment: we can emerge from this crisis as a more just, green and sharing society. We can integrate feminine wisdom, learn, grow and change. Or we can return to the old masculine status quo and the next crisis (like climate change) will wipe us out. This was an important warning shot to learn from, not an enemy to defeat. Let’s take this opportunity and change!