Adaptation to Crisis
Heroism or Love
In the Eye of the Storm
An individual response to the Global Crisis
May 12, 2020
Ashok Bedi, M.D., Jungian Psychoanalyst
Robert BJ Jakala PH.D., Jungian Psychotherapist
In a storm, the safest place is in the eye of the storm. My colleague BJ and I will share our daily reflections on this centering process from an Analytical perspective, sharing from the repertoire of our personal and professional experience. BJ is a psychologist and a photographer and will pick an image of the day that catches him in this collective crisis. I will amplify it from a Jungian Analytical perspective. We hope that this may offer you a baby step on the path to your own unique response to this chaos.
The process of adaptation requires a directed conscious function characterized by inner consistency and logical coherence. Because it is directed, everything unsuitable must be excluded in order to maintain the integrity of direction. (Jung, 1960b, p. 35)
The image catches a bird’s take-off from the green fence post. As a photograph, my inner critic tells me several corrections. However, there is value of this moment, a moment I have never caught before or since. It is the opening of a sunlit wing.
The movement of the open wing gives the lift for flight. The feathers show beauty as well as function in the sunlight. Each of them works as a member of the wing team. Then the bird’s feet come off the post and are pulled close. There are so many ingredients that provide balance and movement into the air. Its natural pattern is alive and robust. It can move about freely to explore safe nesting habitats and food. It has a mission in mind as it flies.
In the adaptation to this world of the pandemic, can I find moments of grace and beauty that would have otherwise gone unknown? What aspect of my everyday life, if given proper attention or reflection, would stand out? How can I notice it but not be distracted in a way that would be detrimental? (Like the bird looking at its feathers in the sunlight while flying.)
Adaptation to a crisis thus has two primary facets; what to focus on and what to ignore for now. The goal we must focus on at the present is ENTERPRISE. What we must ignore consciously is SACRIFICE. Life is a balancing act between Enterprise and Sacrifice.
These dynamics are orchestrated by the Archetype of the Inner Hero in each one of us. Everyone must individually choose what is the arena of their Enterprise and what is the sector of their life that calls for Sacrifice. All of us must Enterprise in taking initiative to learn new digital skills, creatively manage social isolation without soul deprivation, connect virtually, emotionally and spiritually which sacrificing physical proximity, stay engaged in our chosen field of life and make necessary Sacrifices to work in limited space while making rooms for others, honoring their personal boundaries.
We are blessed to have our grown-up grandson safe harbor with us as he is required to work online in another city where is office has gone virtual. We are sharing office space. One evening I barged into his office space to grab a reference book while he was on an important conference call. He very diplomatically helped me to set up a mutually acceptable system to access my previous office without interrupting him. I have of course set up my office in the spacious attic. We are both enterprising but have learned to make necessary sacrifices to coexist!
At a societal level, there is similar call for balance between the Enterprise group and the Sacrifice group. Enterprising large corporations have innovated new systems to make online and virtual work possible, keeping offices, clinics, schools, banking, commerce humming in midst of the pandemic. Zoom, Google meet, Microsoft teams among others have kept us connected, Amazon and others have kept us supplied by home delivery of goods, and on and on it goes from these maestros of Enterprise of our great nation.
But none of this Enterprise and innovation would be possible without the Magnum Opus of the Sacrifice group. These are our heroic first responders: the Medics, the physicians, nurses and rest of the medical teams, the police, the firefighter, the grocery store workers, the garbage collectors and the road and infrastructure maintenance crews, the pilots and the airlines cabin and ground crew among many other unsung heroes working behind the scenes to keep rest of us safe and functional.
While the archetype of Hero/Heroine is the pace maker of our response to this crisis, it cannot really function optimally without the inspiration of the archetype of the Lover – a matter of our hearts. We are driven to heights of enterprise and depths of Sacrifice out of Love. Love of our lovers, children, parents, family, community, society, nation and humanity. Love is the fuel in the vehicle of Heroism. Heroism is the action in the movie, Love is the background music which gives it depth, gravitas and a soul.
Those who are unwilling to make necessary sacrifices are Love Deficient. They see no value in making sacrifices like social distancing, face masking, party postponement, delaying celebrations, staying six feet apart etc. They see that as weakness and capitulation to rules rather than a loving sacrifice for good of community. Hubris crushes humility. Narcissism overrides Altruism. Every man for himself replaces “One for all and All for One” dynamic of
“We are in this Together”.
Each one of us must decide: Do you want to be Light or claim the Shadow? History has taught us that we will survive. This too shall pass. As a society, we will emerge stronger, smarter and wiser. However, some of us will carry the Karma of the Dark Side. But each one of us have this opportunity to claim the Light and be tempered by this crisis to be the best version of ourselves. The choice is yours to make. Society has its alchemic ways to assimilating the Shadow, but those who choose the dark side will have to carry the stain on their soul for the rest of their lives, perhaps even passing this dark legacy downstream to four generations.(Bedi & Matthews, 2003)
Exodus 20:5-6 English Standard Version (ESV)
5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Another facet of this adaptation is focus on the task and sacrifice the hubris of the magnificence of our enterprise. This calls for Humility. These are the pairs of opposites. Every leader, every individual, every group needs to stay humbly focused on our specific task at hand and sacrifice the hubris that may arise out of our particular spot in the chain.
Some Points to Ponder:
- What adaptations have you made in the pandemic?
- How have those adaptations influence your direction in life?
- What have you learned about the essentials of your life during this time?
- Have you discerned your particular task in this pandemic?
- Does it call primarily for Enterprise of Sacrifice?
- List your sector of Enterprise in this pandemic?
- Describe your personal Sacrifice to support your family and community in this pandemic?
- What do you consider your Heroism in this crisis?
- Whose LOVE motivates you to Enterprise and Sacrifice as necessary?
- Do you consider yourself a Hero/Heroine, a Lover or Both?
Photo taken in Kerala, India
Bedi, A., & Matthews, B. (2003). Retire your family karma : decode your family pattern and find your soul path. Berwick, Me.: Nicolas-Hays.
Jung, C. G. (1960b). The structure and dynamics of the psyche. New York: Pantheon Books.
Exodus 20:5-6 English Standard Version (ESV)
© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH.D.