Such Wonderful Human Beings in the Face of Adversity

Karim Maarek

2nd of April, 2020

A lot has been said and written about the way we are all reacting to these first weeks of the crisis we find ourselves in. And it’s heartwarming that most of the messages we are seeing are positive because so much of what we see around us is exactly that. In a new series #timeslikethese, I want to share our perspective at WEAVE the Future on what we are seeing around us and what this means for times of major change. In the past few weeks, we have overwhelmingly proven ourselves to be loving, caring, helping, sharing, friendly, hopeful, positive, compassionate, considerate (etc.) human beings. At once, what it means to be human becomes crystal clear. And the being part of it does too: it’s not about what we do but how we show up, who we are for those around us and what we emphasize in these times of need. 

This is not to deny that in times of adversity, crisis and loss, there is also all the pain, anxiety and uncertainty about life and livelihood that go with it. But instead of resorting to fear, and detaching ourselves from our neighbors and community, we mostly turn to hope and we reach out to help. Rutger Bregman, a Dutch historian, journalist and author, recently wrote the bestseller ‘De meeste mensen deugen’, loosely translated: Most people are just good people. (The English translation under the title HumanKind is available here from May 19). It’s a wonderful book where he demonstrates quite clearly how the dominant worldview, especially in our institutions and organizations, in our policies and economies, decisions and incentives, is that people are basically bad people and cannot be trusted to do the right thing. He convincingly lays out that exactly the opposite is true (get yourself a copy!). And we are seeing that play out all around us hat most people are wonderful, decent and loving human beings that just want to do the right thing. 

And I think it can be of value to make that abundantly clear. 

Because you know what that really means? First of all, what makes us happy and content and immensely powerful and incredibly successful as a species is that we have each other’s back and are deeply connected to each other. And on the inside – sometimes we have to dig for it – we know that to be true. We know what we want is to feel that connection. And actually, science too has spelled that out for us: we thrive as a human being when we feel strongly connected to those around us. In fact we are wired to try ‘to understand the thoughts and feelings bouncing around’ in others around us in order to connect effectively.

Secondly, we see we are no different than our neighbor, our fellow citizen, an immigrant, the refugee knocking at our borders or frankly any other person on the planet. It really doesn’t matter if you’re educated or not, how successful you are in your chosen career, or if you dress ‘normal’ or weird, whatever your color, creed, gender or orientation. We all are revealed to be human in times of crisis.

I think that what makes this crisis so profoundly unique is that for the first time in our existence as a species we are 1/ at least minimally aware of everyone else, 2/ connected to each other via media and the internet and 3/ most importantly all going through more or less the exact same lived experience. I really wonder where that will lead us and how we might use that to bring us all more together. 

More on that in my next take on the times we live in. Let me know your perspective on what you see unfolding all around us, I would love to hear it. And you could use the #timeslikethese if you feel so inclined. 

At WEAVE the Future, this perspective on fundamental human interconnectedness and connection being fundamental to our own and collective wellbeing is core to how we approach every human challenge, including the current pandemic.