The Silver Lining: A Respect for Time and Possibility

We remain ever-grateful to physicians and health professionals, first responders, front line workers, companies and corporations, friends, neighbors and perfect strangers for their swift and decisive actions, tireless efforts, countless updates and generous spirit. And to those who have unconditionally extended themselves ... as well as those who have remained confined and duly quarantined to help us get through this “never before” pandemic that has brazenly descended upon us crippling our world economy, compromising health, lives and quality of life, we thank you.

Although the American economy has been provisionally incapacitated and countless lives and livelihoods continue to be lost, we are so fortunate that our government has stepped up like never before to offer financial assistance and relief to so many small companies and individuals.

Silver Lining. Our formerly notorious fast-paced frenetic life/style and demanding routines have come to an abrupt halt. They say, that out of every tragedy comes renewed strength and rectitude. The good news: the destructive, insidious pandemic aimed at destroying us is actually bringing our society closer together and enabling us to re-assess the quality of our lives. After so much suffering and devastating loss of health, loved ones, jobs and entire businesses, we are going through a metamorphosis of sorts, gaining a new appreciation and respect for time and possibly, life itself. Re-examining how we spend our time, reevaluating priorities, purpose and life-plans abound.

This pause is helping us reclaim our sense of life-balance and perhaps even some of our souls. As the virus persists and people are homebound, the formerly elusive concept of work/life balance is being unearthed and may actually be attainable. We cherish and celebrate the new-found gift that time affords specifically as it pertains to enriching relationships with family, friends and loved ones, once an anomaly. Slowing down also helps alleviate stress which triggers and exacerbates many of life’s illnesses including heart attacks.

We are reading more, exercising, meditating, cooking, singing, fashioning new hobbies, creating new businesses and re-shaping daily routines; connecting/reconnecting and reaching out to perfect strangers is rampant. Air pollution and related health problems, especially respiratory issues ... are down.  Theft, murder, crime, bulling, road-rage, complaints, lawsuits, traffic jams and gas prices ... are all down. We are taking better care of our own health and perhaps more sensitive to the fragility of loved ones’ physical and mental states. And, who among us has not relished NOT sitting in traffic jams and dashing to the next appointment?

Timeless Cultural Traditions Are Changing

To Americans living in Monochronic Time, the emphasis has always been “ time is money.” Our North American Low-Context cultural mind-set notably encourages individual achievement... the “ I” “ me” and “ mine” mentality has prevailed. We now appear to be borrowing a page from our High Context Cross-Cultural neighbors who embrace collective achievement, collaborative mentality, “team” spirit, family, community, syncopated time, etc.

The vile viral war is a game-changer, only reinforcing American exceptionalism. Going forward, new protocols governing behavior, hygiene and social distancing are forthcoming. Moreover, measured words and matching actions when interacting with others is not a nicety, but rather an obligation.

Immediate considerations:

Handshaking - formerly the universal sign of greeting, saying farewell, promise or sealing a bargain is in abeyance, for now.

Bowing – a custom stemming from High-Context cultures such as China and Japan may well become the new world-wide universal standard of greeting. Remember: the three levels of bow: the 15%, 35% and 50% angle: the elder (socially) or more senior (professionally) the other person, the lower the bow. Typically in business, executives meet “level to level.” Note: as opposed to idioms in Japan, great attention to eye-contact is imperative!!

Personal Space – once a cross-cultural issue now follows Social Distancing protocols, also in the global spotlight. Historically, where one arm’s length of distance has typically been the appropriate comfort zone for those in North America, the British typically prefer two arm’s length of distance for their comfort zone while those in High Context Cultures e.g. China and Japan prefer more like three arm’s length of distance. Interestingly, the 6’ -medically-recommended social-distancing protocol is approximately three arm’s length distance.

In Conclusion 

As Americans adjust to a ‘New Normal’ we are learning new ways to communicate, acknowledge others and respect boundaries of personal space.  Respectful Behavior today is no longer an option but rather, a requirement. Making conscious choices involving core tenets of caring, consideration, sensitivity and elan is everyone’s responsibility because our actions critically affect others.

They say, “When a dove flaps its wings in China, the wind currents shift for thousands of miles across mountains and seas,” … which is just a poetic way of saying that everything we do has a ripple effect and that we are all interconnected. We here in North America have felt the ripple effects and have responsibility to fiercely guard and protect our free society and look out for each other and future generations.

In today’s chilling Covid-viral world, boundaries - and promises - once taken for granted have been broken. Going forward we realize that we can take nothing for granted. Entering yet another stage imminently filled with challenge, our commitment to helping our Country function again - - economically and health-wise - - for ourselves, our families and future generations has only been reinforced; re-energized. American exceptionalism cannot be under-valued or over-stated.

Remember, “everything we do - - and say has a ripple effect - - as we are all interconnected. - We can’t take anyone or anything for granted, especially each other.

Related: A Call for Civility: The Power of the Human Potential and Thoughtfulness