Symptom: an indication of the existence of something, especially of an undesirable situation
Source: A body or process by which energy or a particular component enters a system. A place, person, or thing from which something originates
As we look with awareness around, what we have been seeing, feeling and experiencing right now, in India and across the world – be it the pandemic of coronavirus; migrant workers and the economically poor in India being treated in a heart-wrenching manner; large number of locusts attacking crops in India; typhoons; lives being taken of several black people in the USA that makes our stomachs go weak; each of these that we are witnessing are symptoms.
Symptoms of systemic issues/challenges/failure across societies, communities, organizations, local governmental bodies, countries, and several human-designs, at large.
The fear, the anxiety, the stress, the uncertainty, the anticipation, the irritation, the anger, the frustration, the helplessness, all that we negatively hold in our body under different emotional names, are also symptoms.
Each time we are forced to come up with vaccines; each time a local government sanctions a few crores for the economically challenged; each time pesticides/chemicals are sprayed to get rid of the `so-called’ pests; each time we rehabilitate people who lose homes to natural disasters that are frequently occurring; each time policemen are fired or questioned for taking black lives; we are silencing the issue for that moment, for just some time. We are addressing them – but for the short term.
Where do we start? How can we make sense of it all? What can I do?
I wish to share with you the one way I am able to see this.
It is by learning from nature. With 3.8 billion years of time-tested wisdom, and over four million organisms on this earth today from whom we can borrow, let us use a simple analogy to understand this.
Nature teaches us that in order to respond appropriately to any situation/challenge, we need to use our antennae to pick-up the right signal. In what can be termed the `SIGNAL-ANTENNAE-RESPONSE’, organisms are constantly engaged in this, when out there in the open savannah, jungles, oceans and such habitats. When they respond appropriately to the right signal, there are better results, than if they hurriedly and impatiently responded to the wrong one. That can lead to trouble.
To understand this better, let us look at one of the amazing designs of nature that we inhabit every moment of our life, an incredible system, which is the human body:
Symptomatic approach: When we are in discomfort, pain, sickness, emotional imbalance – we might pop in a paracetamol, a pain killer, an anti-depressant, take a vaccine (if it is a larger issue), or we might use any alternate form too (Ayurveda, homeopathy, etc); OR we might take a holiday to calm our emotions, relax, rejuvenate and return. Each of these are symptomatic approaches to the actual problem. No matter what we are using, we are using it to get immediate relief. A short term cure. Something immediate.
Do we need the symptomatic approach?
Depending on the nature of the issue and the intensity of it, yes, we might need them. We might need an opening at that moment to step out of it for the short term, for there might be some important things to be addressed on an immediate basis for which we need that relief – whether it is with oneself; whether it is with the company we are working; whether it is to be able to take care of someone who is totally dependent on us in that phase of our life; maybe to handle a crisis/emergency on hand, and therefore we sought out the most `harmless’ but immediately effective band-aid solutions, that can help us hold ourselves together, at that point in time.
The danger is, this is not the right/real signal picked up, and is therefore not the right response. This is a habitual response, and it doesn’t tune our antennae to the heart of the matter. We become satisfied with these quick-fix, band-aid solutions. This is when the organism/system moves from symptomatic signals, to DIS-EASE. It could be a physical manifestation or an emotional manifestation, and in most cases it is a combination of both, as the organism/organization/systems all, function as a whole.
Dis-ease too is a symptom. It is one of the highest forms of communication the body engages in, to tell us, `hello, you now have to pay attention, I have tried in all ways to communicate to you, tried to keep you going, but the system is about to collapse. Please help me to help you. This is as loud as I can get’. It is a calling to take us to the SIGNAL, the body truly wants us to respond to.
Which is why the SYMPTOMS across the globe, are signalling louder and louder across several systems – be it agriculture; fossil fuel usage; environment; education; economy under the guise of growth; democracy as oligarchy; systems across are in RED – showing crisis, lack of resilience, and are dis-eased.
What happens in the microcosm (our human body) is happening at the macrocosm (at the level of the organization) and beyond (planetary level), and what happens at the macrocosm, happens to us within.
It isn’t easy to walk to the heart of the matter. It is messy, it requires courage, it requires facing several truths, it needs gentleness and love, and deep collaborations.
However, we need to start at the bottom. By assessing the environment and giving language to the truth. That’s how thriving ecosystems are built by nature. From the bottom up, by understanding the nature of the place:
This pause, this gift of lockdown to humanity, this space, is probably for each of us to truly SEE AND ACKNOWLEDGE:
- What we are SEEING across the world are symptoms. Symptoms that indicate several systems need our deepest attention right now.
- The band-aid, quick-fix approaches are becoming a dangerous habit of humanity, that is resulting in systemic collapses.
- The symptoms are so loud, that several of them have turned into dis-eases.
- We are now being called upon to make the journey to the heart of the matter.
- And like Dr. Dayna Baumeister and Dr. Janine Benyus, co-founders of Biomimicry 3.8, and visionary leaders in awakening the world to sustainable designs and communities say, `we need to start by quieting the human cleverness’
- When we quieten the cleverness, our antennae can take us to the true signal, to SEE AND ACKNOWLEDGE, so then the heart can then show us the truth, the actual response.
I invite and request that we each reflect, and please do share what comes up for you.
Then we can all collectively tell the Earth, tell our systems – WE SEE AND WE ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THESE ARE SYMPTOMS.
It will then give us the awareness and courage, to prepare for our walk collectively to the heart of the matter. To prepare ourselves for the journey ahead.
Celebrates & Connects all Life as:
Writer | Custodian of Circles | Biomimicry Professional