One of the most surprising things that came out of the spread of the COVID19 virus is the way a large number of people reacted during the crisis. Make no mistake that COVID19 was the pressure test of our current systems and the people within those systems. Some people went out in droves to hoard food, and more importantly toilet paper. This behaviour had a ripple effect causing other people, who may not normally have used this approach, to hoard things themselves, leaving shelves empty in stores. There were a number of pictures of elderly people circulating the net showing them unable to get any items for themselves. This, though lead to some amazing acts of compassion by grocery store leaders, and other fellow human beings who rushed to support those more marginalized. I think if anything, COVID19 is showing ultimately that our default setting, when the dust settles, is compassion and that ultimately we will be there for each other when things become challenging.
But what caused this hoarding behaviour in people? What role does the belief in “not enough” play in leading people to act in a way that only benefits themselves? We judge these people as greedy or as assholes, when they really are just scared.
Growing up, I remember hearing a lot about there not being enough. Even if you listen to the media today or listen to the way people speak…there is never enough. There is never enough food, money or water, or resources or love. Life is a ‘zero-sum game’ and you have to get what is yours before someone else gets it. This belief in not enoughness probably has its roots in Darwinism and survival of the fittest. These beliefs in lack always lead to fear. When you believe in lack, you start experiencing it because everything starts to look like lack. If you don’t believe there is enough wealth in the world, you will hoard money, in a constant cycle to attain personal security and maintain your wealth. This behaviour does not lead, unfortunately to greater security for the hoarder and does actually lead to greater poverty in others (income inequality). Ken Honda, the Zen Millionaire who teaches people how to become abundant, interviewed millionaires and billionaires. What he discovered was that the majority of them didn’t feel they had enough. A wise person once told that the “greed is the hoarding of money”. Poverty and greed are two sides of the same coin. Both are based on lack. Jomo Kwame Sundaram (2016) of the World Economic forum shares that we produce enough food in the world to eradicate world hunger and yet people still go hungry. Millions and millions of food is wasted in North America every day. Farmers would historically throw out surpluses of their harvest rather than share it…why? Because of fear. Fear that doing so would drive down the cost of their goods.
So our fear is what is causing division among us and will kill us if we don’t shift our consciousness. Our fear is what causes us to hoard toilet paper, rather than take enough so that everyone can have some and believe that when we need it, it will be at the store or one of our friends will give us some. Fear will also cause us to hoard supplies and try to sell them for ridiculous prizes and take advantage of others. If you don’t understand how this is fear, ponder this…these individuals feel the only way that they can have abundance is by taking advantage of a situation or people. They don’t genuinely believe they can make money AND do something that feels good or help others. But this belief is not based on reality. There is a lot of abundance in the world…the problem is that it is not shared. We forget that our strength lies in community and togetherness.
So what is the solution? Instead of berating people for being afraid, we must be compassionate with them and help tackle the fear that drives the behaviour. Help those people remember their abundance through the practice of gratitude. If they can’t, well, love them anyways and don’t act like them. We may not be hoarding toilet paper but every time we act out of fear we behave in the same way. The more we practice gratitude, the more grateful we will be and the more we will see our abundance. Gratitude shifts our perspective from lack to wealth. Some of us are free, some of us are able to walk, some of us have pets. We have so much to be grateful for in the world. We have air and water and trees which give us life. As my friend Jaisa said in Episode 1 of our Podcasts,
“if you are alive, there is more going right than wrong”.Jaisa Sulit
So remember, you are alive, you are abundant, you have way more to be grateful for than not, you are way more powerful that you believe and you have the power to overcome anything life throws at you. We do not need parachutes in our lives…we have wings. Life pushes us to brink so that we may soar.