This pandemic we are experiencing has created a massive social and economic crisis. It has brought great suffering and disruption to daily life. If we want to overcome the impact it has had on so many around the world, it seems to me, we have to look more at how we are all connected rather than how we are different from one another. This virus does not discriminate between Republicans or Democrats, conservative or liberal, race, religion or sexual orientation. No one is immune from being a carrier or a receiver of the virus. We are all at risk.
We have seen how various countries around the world have responded to this pandemic. Some seem to have met the challenge better than others. Two countries immediately come to mind: New Zealand and Germany, both lead by women. Their leaders worked collaboratively with elected officials, civic leaders and scientific experts to create a unified approach to the crisis. They communicated honestly and directly to the general public. Their efforts significantly mitigated the impact of the virus in their countries. They stayed focused on the complex challenges facing their citizens. This is also true of some of the states in America. Massachusetts, Ohio and California, headed by men, are three examples of effective, collaborative leadership. The leaders in these states also relied on consensus building, medical science and inclusiveness.
I am reminded of the work of Mark Gunger, “The Tale of Two Brains”, posted on YouTube. He teaches how the thinking processes of men and women are different. He uses his examples to increase understanding about relationships and how these differences can create conflict when they are not understood. In a humorous way, he illustrates how men’s thought process tends to focus on one issue at a time to be resolved before another can be taken up while women’s thinking tends to be more about how all thoughts, feelings and actions are connected through a network of relationships to those around them. As a man who has lived with an exceptionally intelligent woman for a very long time, I have experienced this on a daily basis. This is where the title for today’s essay came from: “Right Now the World needs to Think Like a Woman”.
If anything good comes from this terrible pandemic, I sincerely hope it is a sense that we are all dependent on each other in more ways than we may have ever considered. If the clerk, the waitress, the teller, the office worker, the Uber driver cannot pay their rent, buy clothes, ride the subway, afford groceries, or worse, becomes infected with the virus, the ripple effect grows like a tsunami. The poem quoted, (with a gender update), in my subtitle, is from John Donne’s* poem, “No Man is an Island”. In it he writes about humanity as one body that cannot escape from the reality that what happens to one of us can and does impact all of us.
This virus has especially hit those in the service industry who make our daily life more convenient and healthy but are so often under paid, under appreciated and often without health care. Who would have thought, before COVID-19, that grocery clerks, meat cutters or delivery drivers would be essential to our survival? When I was a food truck operator, bringing food to workers on the waterfront of Oakland, as I wrote about in, “La Cucaracha”, (bruceking.substack.com), would I have been considered an essential worker? Would I have been willing to risk my life to sell cheese burritos and Dr. Pepper?
This is a good time for the world to think more like a woman. Everything is connected to everything, in some way. When one of us falls, all of us are affected whether we realize it or not. No one is immune from this virus or its impact on our lives. “And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”.
You don’t have to be a woman to think like a woman. You just have to be willing to embrace the complexity of this pandemic and the collaborative effort it will take to meet the challenges it presents.
The inspiration for this essay came from a podcast presented by the Foreign Press Association of New York. The featured guest was Janine Shafiroff, a philanthropist and author. She spoke about the urgency of addressing hunger in America. In spite of the moderator’s attempts to politicize the topic, she steadfastly returned to her central theme of the pressing need to help those who are struggling with the impact of this pandemic. She recognized how their lives were connected to hers and all those in the country.
I am enclosing two links to charities that are dedicated to feeding the hungry. One link is for an organization focused on America and the other is focused on world hunger. If you feel inspired to send a contribution, as I did, please do so.
Thank you for being on this journey with me. As always, I welcome your feedback. Be safe. Be well. Be generous. Love the ones you are with. Life is short even when there isn’t a pandemic.
*John Donne, 24 January 1572 - 31 March 1631