Best Wishes from Germany
the current times are tough – worldwide, everywhere. The Corona pandemic affects us all in all aspects of our lives. No matter where you are as you read this article, you will be confronted with similar phenomena, which we will report here in the following.
In these times we are experiencing – in addition to the health and economic crisis caused by the outbreak of the Corona virus worldwide – an unprecedented information overload. A lot of reliable information is circulating – but also many more or less helpful opinions and convictions, speculations, misleading articles, fake news, urban legends and conspiracy theories – in short: a lot of noise in this incessant stream of information and in between reliable information. To inform reliably is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Therefore this crisis, apart from its health and economic aspects, is also a crisis of information and orientation for our thinking, feeling and acting – and for our soul.
In the following, we will use the Corona crisis to show how the Integral Model of the US philosopher Ken Wilber is practically applied to gain more clarity and orientation. Time and again people think that this model is so „theoretical“ – we don’t see any contradiction in this and agree with Kurt Levin: „Nothing is more practical than a good theory!“ We show here how practical it is to be able to systematically analyse the countless pieces of the puzzle of a chaotic-dynamic global situation and to put them together to form a profound overall picture – a decisive cultural practice in our complex world.
We offer you a primarily German perspective on the Corona crisis – and hope that this may be helpful for other countries as well. From an Integral point of view, it must naturally be an „on-the-spot“ perspective. We cannot contribute reliable observations about other places. Such perspectives should be provided by residents in other countries. We are already curious to get to know them and to learn from them. Integral curiosity promotes international, intercultural exchange – and so we are naturally also interested in what the situation is like in other countries of the world like yours.
One more thing – maybe this presentation seems to you to be quite long, maybe too long for your taste. We ask for your indulgence and trust in your curiosity. In the following we try to look at the Corona crisis – a global, „wicked problem“ – from all sides and therefore our summary naturally does not fit on one page. This is also what makes our report different from the countless snippets of information that are currently floating around more or less incoherently and de-contextualized in the social media. „Wicked problems“ such as the current Corona crisis are proving to be protractedly turning into wicked precisely because the overview of accurate, reliable information is lost and people can become additionally panicky as a result – and we want to avoid juust this!.
Who could ever have imagined that?
The global Corona pandemic is currently keeping us all on the edge of our seats. These days, things are spinning all over the world, in Europe and in Germany. Since the end of 2019, the Corona virus SARS-CoV-2, starting from Wuhan in Hubei province in China, has been spreading around the world. On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international health emergency. Only six weeks later, on 11 March 2020, the WHO officially declared the previous epidemic a pandemic (COVID19 pandemic).
In Germany, the first cases of illness did not appear until the end of January 2020, but since the end of February the number of new cases documented every day has grown rapidly and affected more and more federal states. On 17 March 2020, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) rated its assessment of the risks to the health of the population in Germany from „moderate“ to „high“. Since its first appearance in Germany, around 31,554 cases have been reported in recent weeks (as of 25 March 2020), including around 145 deaths. And the number of cases is rising daily, accompanied by an estimated 10-fold increase in the number of unreported cases.
And since a few days a clear change of consciousness can be observed in Germany, which shows itself in the thinking, feeling and acting of the people. We can no longer ignore this crisis or dismiss it as a seasonal flu epidemic. Instead, we all feel the full force of the crisis in our own bodies, minds and souls.
The Corona crisis is a current example of a so-called „wicked problem“, as Alan Watkins & Ken Wilber define it: The crisis is multidimensional – it affects every individual, every culture and our objective life foundations, it has many causes – not only medical – and many symptoms – not only medical – , there are many actors affected and involved in it and there are many solutions to stem the pandemic, and beyond that it is continually evolving so that yesterday’s insights and assessments may already be outdated today.
How are you doing with the Corona crisis right now? How do you keep track of things, how do you keep yourself informed? How do you feel about the Corona crisis? How do you interpret the different reactions of your fellow human beings and your own behaviour? What feelings are you feeling at the moment, with you, with your relatives, in your circle of friends, at work? Which thoughts and beliefs dominate your everyday life these days?
You may wonder about the carelessness and nonchalance of some people – or you may be annoyed by the recklessness of others. Perhaps you find it difficult to follow the political and social discourse attentively. Perhaps your head is full of worried thoughts about the near and distant future. And maybe you spend a lot of time trying to get a clear picture of the current situation and to keep your information up to date on a daily basis.
Polynesian Sailing in uncertain waters
You are probably aware that there can be no clear goals with regard to such a „wicked problem“, that you cannot stand on the edge of all turbulences as an uninvolved observer, but instead are already in the middle of it yourself. That you cannot wait and hope that this crisis will be overcome for you by other fellow human beings or „the government“ or „the health care system“ or „your insurance company“, but that you are in demand with your own creative potential and will actively participate in order to overcome this collective crisis together with your fellow human beings.
Mastering the current challenge is more like what Gunter Schmidt calls Polynesian sailing. For him, Polynesian sailing means setting off into the unknown with a simple boat (there are no reliable landmarks on the horizon, only the vast ocean), having all the necessary resources and skills on board and sailing off independently and on one’s own responsibility – and with confidence but not cockiness.
And to observe reality carefully and soberly look out for orientation hints: in which direction will the next island probably be? What is the weather like, how is the wind? How does the current influence my course? Who can take over which tasks? Who has what resources and skills to make the trip safe despite uncertainties? Which course do I set next and when do I have to steer?
The Integral Map helps you with Navigation
The Integral Approach of the American philosopher Ken Wilber gives you an outstanding – unique – guide to this, the Integral Map. This map integrates all known knowledge, all available knowledge about human development in one meta-model. This gives you a navigation aid that ensures that you can view and understand every situation as comprehensively and completely as possible – including the Corona crisis.
It describes a total of five dimensions in your own field of consciousness, which we will apply practically to the Corona crisis in the following: developmental lines, structures, quadrants, types, states.
When using the Integral Map, it is of course important to not confuse the map with the mapped area. The map is only a map, a model of reality – not reality itself. With regard to the Corona crisis, this map cannot, of course, describe every single detail of this global crisis – but, it can give you helpful, meaningful and directional orientations in these uncertain times.
Now then: Cast off… we set sail and start sailing…
Developmental Lines – Facets of personality
A good start for a better understanding of the Corona crisis are developmental lines.
Developmental lines take into account the fact that we show different aspects – facets – of our personality, each of which can be developed to different degrees and influence or control our thoughts, feelings and actions.
In some of these disciplines that life confronts you with, you will be above average and competent, in others you will be more likely to play in the midfield, and yet others will play a minor or no role at all in your life. Each of these lines describes a particular facet of your personality and answers a particular question.
For a better, more comprehensive understanding of the Corona crisis, you can first answer the following questions for yourself:
- What do I consciously perceive (at all) in relation to the Corona crisis? (Cognition – the degree of cognition determines what can be consciously perceived and understood by the Corona crisis at all)
- What of what I consciously perceive in relation to the Corona crisis do I call my „self“ or „I/me“? How does this change my self? (Self – the degree of self-understanding that expands, matures with increasing life experience);
- Which of the things I consciously perceive in relation to the Corona crisis is particularly important and meaningful to me? (Values – the degree of understanding of values or worldview);
- What should I do or not do in relation to the Corona crisis? (Morals – the degree of moral development);
- How do I want us to deal with each other in relation to the Corona crisis? (Interpersonal – the degree of understanding of effective interpersonal interactions);
- How do I feel emotionally in relation to the Corona crisis? (Emotions – the degree of maturity of emotional intelligence).
These are just a few selected lines that can help you to expand your understanding of the Corona crisis – and at the same time they help you to understand that your understanding also depends on how far these lines are developed in detail with you and your fellow human beings.
Structures of Consciousness
The second aspect that will help you to better understand the Corona crisis concerns – simply put – the current expansion of the structures of the space of consciousness (we often speak of levels, stages or waves of consciousness) that you and your fellow human beings can access.
These structures of consciousness, invisible to us, define the various consciousness or „world spaces“ that build upon each other and determine who(i.e. which subject exactly) observes reality and how this reality is interpreted by the observing subject.
In the course of life our individual consciousness develops further and our horizon expands more with every structure we reach. We grow into these new structures, become „grown up“ (at best). Once we have reached a stable stage of growth or development, the full potential of this structure is available to us practically at all times. For example, when we have learned to read, we can read. The ability, once learned, remains with us permanently.
For a more comprehensive understanding of the Corona crisis it is crucial to become aware of the fact that the population of people living in Germany (and also worldwide) can be divided into different sub-populations with regard to the degree of their „being grown up“, i.e. the spaces of consciousness and structures available to them.
This explains to you in one fell swoop (without justifying it) why, in your opinion, some fellow human beings behave very unreasonably, perhaps even recklessly or even egotistically, while others, on the other hand, insist almost exaggeratedly on complying with official rules and regulations.
Ego-centric Self – „I“ (Red)
People with an egocentric, red self are not able to take responsibility for othersbecause they cannot put themselves in the position of others. They simply lack the perspective of the 2nd person, they simply cannot cognitively grasp it. They only know „I/myself/mine“, but not yet „you/yourself/yours“ and therefore not yet „we/us/ours“. The only thing that counts for them is themselves (and their 1st person self-protection and well-being) and the whole world seems to revolve around them. Accordingly, they show themselves to be intransigent and their behaviour is often impulsive and motivated by lust and desire.
Two typical inner attitudes or expressions of such egocentric-red people with regard to the Corona crisis are:
„Nobody has to tell me anything“ – These fellow human beings live according to the motto „I do my thing“, ignore social rules and agreements and behave generally – or as a defiance reaction to the Corona crisis – often without consideration for the interests of other fellow human beings.
„I have to prepare (possibly arm myself)“ – Their need for self-security and their experience of an environment that is threatening and dangerous for them (and which of us currently does not feel threatened or at least impressed by the Corona pandemic?) drives these people to prepare themselves in the face of this threatening environment and to prepare well for all conceivable emergencies. According to the quote by Bertold Brecht: „First comes food, then comes morality“ they stock up on supplies for many weeks by hoarding them (or have done so in wise foresight before the Corona crisis, as is common in the prepper scene). Quite a few of them are latently prepared to use violence, as startling video clips from supermarkets on the Internet show, where people fight over goods as if there were no tomorrow. They also like to arm themselves (if possible) in order to be able to fend off marauding fellow human beings by force of arms if necessary. This is shown in particular by the sharp rise in the turnover of arms sales since the outbreak of the Corona crisis in the USA.
Ethno-centric Self – „We“ (Amber)
People with an ethnocentric, amber self react differently to the Corona crisis. Because they have a 2nd person’s perspective, they are able to take responsibility for their own group (family, clan, community, community, company, ethnicity, culture, nation, etc.), but often not beyond. They tend to show a tendency to be rather intransigent, as they are cognitively unable to recognize and understand (and accept) the connections fully; this would require a 3rd person perspective, which has not been developed so far. However, they usually behave obediently and follow laws, rules and prohibitions from „above“ out of loyalty and obedience to those authorities to which they feel they belong.
Typical inner attitudes or expressions of these ethnocentric, amber-coloured people with regard to the Corona crisis are:
„Only together we can do it!“ – A high degree of connectedness and tackling solidarity with fellow human beings in their immediate environment who are particularly affected by the Corona crisis. The desire to help their fellow human beings is currently giving rise to local and regional citizens’ initiatives everywhere, e.g. neighbourhood help, „Young helps old“, etc.
„We are here for you – for this we ask you to stay at home!“ – the desire to help one’s fellow human beings leads many doctors, nurses, paramedics, but also policemen, government employees, truck drivers and numerous other professional groups to commit or sacrifice themselves for the community to the limit of their own physical and psychological exhaustion.
„I can’t/may not abandon my relatives now!“ – Some ethno-centred fellow human beings are currently struggling with the Dilemma of „belonging through distance“, which Angela Merkel formulated in her appeal to the population on 18 March 2020 as an urgent request: „We must keep our distance out of consideration for each other.“ She said it was „existential“ to reduce public life as much as possible – and by this she meant, among other things, spatial distance between family members, such as between children, parents and grandparents, who up to now, however, have been active in many families and regularly closely involved in everyday life. There is perhaps the grandmother who regularly looks after her grandchildren so that the mother can pursue a job. Or the regular visit of one’s own parents who are dependent on care and nursing etc. – to suddenly have to give up all this and to restrict contact accordingly is „unthinkable“, „unseemly“ or simply „wrong“ for some people (even if they could certainly use other and nevertheless more risk-minimised forms of contact) – and therefore there are still many people who visit their relatives regularly or even daily, and at best take care to ensure that intimate greetings (hugging, kissing, etc.) are avoided, keeping a certain minimum distance and regularly disinfecting themselves.
„We have to stick to the rules!“ – For ethno-centred people, adherence to socially or collectively agreed rules is essential, since the reliability of complying with the rules helps them to orient themselves in this chaotic world, which in view of the Corona crisis seems very confusing. For this reason, some people insist very loudly and vehemently that rules are followed. Delinquents are sometimes confronted by them with their rule violations in a super-teaching, sometimes moralising manner or – in particularly serious cases – even reported. This also includes the aspect of demanding new rules from the responsible authorities where rules do not yet exist, so that no unregulated loopholes remain: „Those up there should say what we may/should do and what is forbidden“. And then these authorities are to make sure that these rules are followed consistently with „full rigour“. However, for some people this attitude also includes a certain self-imposed willingness to create unregulated aspects according to the motto: „As long as nobody officially forbids me to meet with my friends, to visit my fitness center, my hairdresser or a concert, I will continue to do so“.
„We have a right to state support“ – a similar expectation of many ethno-centred, amber-coloured people to the responsible authorities is that these authorities of course have to take care of them. The responsibility for their own care is referred by them to the authorities, and it is inconceivable to them that they themselves are (at least partially) responsible for it. Correspondingly, in the face of every emergency – including the Corona crisis – such fellow human beings are quick to call for social benefits, state aid, guarantees and the demand for social justice (as long as justice relates to their own group).
„We must protect our borders and make sure that infectious people stay outside“ – For fear of infection by „foreigners“, or out of a general fear of foreign infiltration (which can resonate with this, especially in view of the parallel migration crisis in Europe), ethno-centred people are very quickly won over to seal off their own country from the rest of the world and to rigorously close the borders. The hope associated with this mentality to circle the wagons is that this will help to contain outbreaks locally and prevent new infections by people beyond the borders.
„The Chinese / the Italians / the government etc. have screwed up!“ – Such statements of some ethno-centred, amber-coloured people are usually a devastating expression of the desire to be able to name someone responsible for all the bad things. Medical history is full of such attributions, in which a certain scapegoat was blamed for the outbreak or existence of a disease. For example, syphilis has been named as a Neapolitan, Italian, French, Spanish, Castilian, English, Scottish or Polish disease, among others, depending on the country from which the disease was allegedly introduced into the respective language area. Such an attitude justifies appropriate counter-measures against certain groups – an attitude that is frighteningly reminiscent of inhuman thinking and action during the National Socialist era. Accordingly, the attempt of the American President Donald Trump, for example, to rename the Corona virus into a „Chinese virus“ without further ado is to be critically evaluated. With this he wanted to make clear who is responsible for the whole malaise: „China has done this“, as recently reported by CNN and the Washington Post on 20 March 2020, among others.
World-centric Self – „All of us (humans)“ (Orange)
People react to the Corona crisis with a world-centric, orange-coloured self in a completely different way. They have a 3rd person’s perspective at their disposal, and thus the ability to cognitively and intellectually abstract rationally and „reasonably“ from concrete circumstances and thus to mentally think through and evaluate different future scenarios. With this perspective they are also able to feel responsible for all people. Accordingly, their benevolent attention and care is not only for those people who surround them directly, but for all people. In addition, these world-centric, rational-orange people trust in the insight and reason of their fellow human beings and the reliability and unstoppable progress of scientific knowledge, which is of decisive importance for the development of effective forms of therapy and a vaccine against the Corona virus SARS-CoV-2.
Typical inner attitudes or expressions of such world-centric, orange-colored people with regard to the Corona crisis are:
„The Corona pandemic (and also other epidemics / pandemics) can be effectively contained with reason, education and science.“ – such an attitude expresses the conviction of world-centric people that there are definitely effective solutions to the Corona crisis, if the limited resources available to cope with this crisis are efficiently and effectively and used with reason, if intensive research is carried out and if the reason of our fellow human beings prevails in these extraordinarily difficult times.
„The only way to slow this epidemic down is to play by the rules: Distance, keep at distance! The virus is primarily transmitted from person to person. Everyone must understand that they must keep at least 1.5 m of decency so that they do not infect others!“ – this emotional appeal was made by the President of the Robert Koch Institute, Prof. Lothar H. Wieler, at a press conference on 20 March 2020 to the German population, obviously moved by emotion: „We are all in a crisis of a magnitude that I could never have imagined myself – and we are doing everything possible to really master the crisis.“ – Especially world-centric fellow human beings, among whom many otherwise very sober-looking, leading virologists and other experts can be counted, who inform in the media about the current state of the Corona crisis, become extremely emotional when they complain about the, in their view, „incomprehensible“ and „irresponsible“ actions of many fellow human beings, who obviously still have not „understood the severity of the situation“. What these orange people cognitively overlook (because it is inconceivable to them) is that they assume that all their fellow human beings have a similarly developed 3rd person’s perspective of „understanding“ the world as they do. And this is unfortunately not the case, as we have already shown with the example of ego-centric and ethnocentric fellow human beings – we are talking about a considerable sub-population of the German population, which simply cannot understand this (even if it wanted to), because it does not have at its disposal precisely this perspective of the 3rd person, on the basis of which also that self-understanding, self-awareness and thus also that self-responsibility arises, which orange-coloured, rational and reasonable people typically embody and also express in their behaviour. World-centric people are able to cognitively penetrate the dilemma of „belonging through distance“ and can understand and accept a necessary, spatial distance to their fellow human beings.
„The world is a (global) village.“ – world-centric, orange-coloured people know about the complex and dynamic political, economic, social, ecological and technological interconnections of countries, cultures, institutions, contexts, systems and infrastructures in a globalised world. In this respect, these orange people are also less surprised than other fellow human beings by the fast, rapid intercontinental spread of the Corona virus as well as by the global effects on all living environments globally – and this of course also fills them with great concern for all people.
„International cooperation is crucial and has already proven itself many times.“ – from their own professional or personal experience, world-centric people greatly appreciate the value of cross-border and interdisciplinary cooperation. Since „every human life counts“, because from their point of view each person is important and valuable as a unique individual (human rights), they try to use the limited resources for a quick and efficient development of effective forms of therapy and vaccines and to contain the consequences of the Corona crisis effectively and responsibly in many other places in politics, economy and society etc.
„Social peace must be maintained.“ – world-centric, orange-coloured people also understand that the social peace of a society is much more than the absence (or even the suppression) of unrest. They see their fellow human beings as responsible fellow citizens who understand the consequences and necessary restrictions as a result of the Corona crisis and who will accordingly carry them with self-confidence and responsibility – and this across all particular interest groups.
„Stay healthy and fit“ – with a view to their own well-being and maintaining their own health, world-centric people often already pay general attention to a healthy nutrition (vegetables, fruit, fibre etc.) and to sufficient and regular physical activity, sport and fitness. The Corona crisis has ambivalent consequences for them in this respect: On the one hand, many people have more time than usual available for sporting activities, among other things. On the other hand, many of their training opportunities are restricted by official orders, e.g. the closure of fitness studios.
Kosmos-centric Self – „All sentient beings“ (Green)
The last segment of the German population considered here includes all postmodern people with a Kosmos-centric, green self. Among them are many freelance artists and other creative people as well as many people who aspire to or lead an alternative way of life.
Together they have a perspective of the 4th person at their disposal. This perspective, also called „systemic“, enables them not only to observe and mentally anticipate themselves and their interactions with other fellow human beings (as observers), but also – as observers of the observer – to observe themselves in this process of observation. They acknowledge that every human being has an individual, unique perspective and idea of the world and that all interpersonal concerns and relationships are essentially about exploring and understanding this individual model of their counterpart (and also of themselves) in order to finally enable a successful, constructive and at best salutary understanding.
In their manner and behaviour Kosmos-centric, green people show themselves to be sensitive, compassionate and they are very interested in a dialogue and a deep and empathic connection with their fellow human beings and also other sentient beings. Among other things, environmental protection and nature conservation, human rights, equal rights, women’s rights, gender aspects, the protection of minorities and multicultural diversity are very important to them, whereas all forms of open, covert or even imputed hierarchies and evaluations are strictly and vehemently rejected (in the sense of: „Who do you think you are, presuming that your opinion counts more than my opinion – or that of a particular minority?!“).
Typical inner attitudes or expressions of such Kosmos-centric, green people with regard to the Corona crisis are:
„We want to help where we can!“ – As world savers with a sometimes severe helper syndrome, Kosmos-centric people easily overtax themselves (and their environment) with their desperate attempts to take responsibility for (really) allsentient beings. In the face of the Corona crisis, they are offered many opportunities and chances to live out their full potential in this respect – also secretly suspecting that they will fail this time too in their attempt to save the world and eliminate all suffering.
„Let me do it.“ – due to their relativistic attitude towards so-called facts, official announcements and scientifically based recommendations, which are mainly brought into the world by orange experts, Kosmos-centric people often tend to rely on their own intuition, their belly feeling instead of following these expert „advices“ („advices“ are often interpreted here as „blows“due to a strange feature of the German language). For personal coping with the Corona crisis, especially with Corona diseases in one’s own family circle, therefore often exclusively (at least additionally) alternative remedies (among others homeopathy, shamanism, distance healing, energetic medicine) are used.
„If I fall ill, then I fall ill, then this is probably my karmic fate.“ – some Kosmos-centric, green people, especially when they are engaged in spiritual practices (regardless of which spiritual tradition), are of the opinion that a Corona disease – if it occurs – has been determined for them by fate or another higher powerand therefore it does not matter whether they protect themselves especially against it – or simply leave it. In this respect, these people behave sometimes more recklessly than people of other consciousness structures, and like to explain their own behaviour towards themselves and others with questions of the kind „Who knows what it is good for?“ or „Who knows what I am supposed to learn from it?“
„Through the Corona crisis, the environment is recovering“ – with all the sympathy and appreciation that the Kosmos-centric people have for the affected Corona infected and other people affected by the Corona crisis (e.g. hospital staff working to exhaustion), many of them are pleased to note that, for example, nature and the environment are recovering quickly due to the decline in economic performance and logistics traffic. In China, for example, people in urban areas are able to breathe (comparatively) smog-free air for the first time in a long time, and in Venice, suddenly dolphins and fish are romping in the city’s lagoon and canals – in waters close to transparent water, to name just two examples of many.
„I respect your opinion on the Corona crisis and I have a different opinion from yours – and both are undeniably valid_“ – Cosmic-centric people are by nature very tolerant of other opinions, even if they differ greatly from their own. Since there are no „righter“ or „wronger“ opinions from their relativistic viewpoint, they quickly tire of any form of argumentation and instead often (but not always) seek their salvation in the (re-)establishment of a harmonious atmosphere of a shared sense of „we“: „It’s good that we talked about it“ – but often there remains a queasy feeling among those involved that somehow they have not completely reached the other person or that they have not made their own point of view clear enough that the other person can agree with it.
Stopover – to summarise what has happened so far
So – now you are informed about the developmental lines and the structures of consciousness that guide our thinking, acting and feeling in all situations of our life – also in relation to the Corona crisis. Let us summarise briefly with regard to the Corona crisis under consideration:
The Corona crisis is a „wicked problem“ – the crisis is multidimensional, has many causes and many symptoms, many actors, many solutions and is constantly evolving.
Developmental lines help you to understand which facets of the personality in your fellow human beings are particularly well developed in view of the Corona crisis, which are pronounced in the midfield and which are hardly or not at all developed. The development of these facets leads to very different reactions to the events of the Corona crisis regarding the cognitive, self-evident, value-related, moral, interpersonal and emotional possibilities of your counterpart.
Structures help you to understand that in a heterogeneous society, different sub-populations will always co-exist with completely different and sometimes even incompatible spaces of consciousness or „spaces of the world“. If you sometimes have the impression during your interpersonal encounters that an understanding with your counterpart is hardly possible or only possible with a very strenuous and power-sapping commitment, it may be that you simply – metaphorically speaking – come from two different „worlds“ and that a conscious translation work is required for an understanding to succeed at all.
What has been said about developmental lines and structures is of course also true for yourself.
Now we turn to the third aspect, the quadrants. Afterwards we will briefly (promised) look at types and states before we reach our port of destination of our common journey to a better, extended understanding of Corona crisis.
Quadrants – Four basic perspectives on the reality of the Corona crisis
The reality as it appears to you at the moment is essentially determined by your current perspective, the focus of your attention. And depending on which section of reality you focus on, e.g. the Corona crisis, the more different your impressions and your interpretations of reality based on them will be. By focusing on certain parts of reality, you emphasise certain aspects of reality, while hiding or ignoring other aspects.
Your attention is directed either to the objective outside world (matter) or to your subjective inside world (mind) – both at the same time is not possible. And on the one hand you experience yourself as an individual and at the same time you are connected as a part of collectives with the rest of the world – the diverse cultures, contexts and systems that surround you. And again, you are usually only able to focus your attention on one of the two aspects – individual or collective – of reality.
From these two fields of tension – subjective vs. objective and individual vs. collective – result four fundamental perspectives on reality, the so-called quadrants. These determine which section of reality, i.e. what you as a subjective observer consider:
- Individual experience – denotes the individual-subjective perspective of the observer (the upper left or „I“ quadrant; UL abbreviated). This quadrant includes your inner world, your thoughts, feelings, beliefs etc. and is further subdivided into somatic and psychic experiences.
- Individual behaviour – refers to the individual-objective perspective of the observer (the upper right or „IT“ quadrant; UR). This quadrant includes your exterior, your body, and all your exterior expressions, your movements, your behaviour, your appearance etc. – everything that others can perceive through observing you. Here we differentiate between movements and (intentional) actions.
- Social systems – refers to the observer’s inter-objective perspective (the lower right or „ITS“ quadrant; LR). This quadrant includes all contexts, systems, institutions, infrastructures, technologies and environments you interact with, e.g. your professional context, your circle of friends, your family of origin, your place of residence, etc. Here we further differentiate between interactions and so-called noetic systems (the latter are social systems based on social agreements about mental, abstract ideas and conceptions, e.g. „money“, „government“ or „corporation“).
- Cultures – denotes inter-subjective perspective of the observer (the lower left or „WE“ quadrant; UL). This quadrant includes all cultures that influence and shape you, e.g. the culture of your family of origin, your place of residence, your profession, etc. A further distinction is made here between communion (social practices) and communities.
With regard to the Corona crisis, this gives rise to four fundamental, meaningful questions that help you to better understand yourself and your fellow human beings in relation to this crisis. Feel free to take a moment to reflect on these questions and find your own answer:
- How do my self-understanding and my thoughts, feelings, convictions, values, motivation and physical sensations – that is, I – contribute individually-subjectively to the Corona crisis? (individual experience)
- How does my own behaviour – that is, IT – contribute individually-objectively to the Corona crisis? (individual behaviour)
- How do the various social systems – that is, THEY (respectively ITS) – inter-objectively prevent or enable the Corona crisis? (social systems)
- How do the various cultures – that is, WE – inter-subjectively prevent or enable the Corona crisis? (cultures)
Really take a moment to answer these questions before you get to know our provisional and certainly not conclusive answers to these questions – it would be a pity if, in the heat of the moment, you simply adopted our answers without reflection, even if perhaps many of them agree with your own observations and answers.
Individual Experience – Your individual-subjective perspective on the Corona crisis
How do your self-image and your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, motivation and physical sensations subjectively contribute to the Corona crisis?
Soma – Individual somatic experience
This refers to our somatic realities, i.e. our physical sensations, which we experience in relation to the Corona crisis.
Especially the concern for our own health in the face of a possible Corona infection directs our attention with magnetic compulsiveness to introspecting into our body. Do I notice in my body one of the previously known symptoms of a COVID19 disease caused by the Corona virus SARS-CoV-2? Do I currently suffer from fever, cough or shortness of breath, or is my sense of smell or taste reduced or insensitive?
The fear of a COVID19 virus disease leads to an overall increased sensitivity for our own body, not only in hypochondriacs.
Also physically noticeable consequences of the Corona crisis (less of a direct infection) can be various stress-related psychosomatic sufferings (e.g. tension-related headaches or back pain, digestive disorders, high blood pressure, neurodermatitis, etc.), which occur as a result of the continuous psychological and physical stress. A depressive dynamic can also become noticeable, through the absence of previously habitual everyday routines or the high level of insecurity due to suddenly no longer functioning structures in one’s own life. A corresponding lack of emotion and drive can arise in the lives of those affected during these days.
Psyche – Individual psychic experience
Here we look at the psychic dynamics of our mind in the face of the Corona crisis: how the crisis affects our identity, our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and motivation.
These psychic experiences take place mainly in our thinking consciousness. Below are some typical thoughts (in disorderly order), which will currently upset you and certainly many other people, including us:
- „Do I have Corona?“ – as an expression of concern for my own health and uncertainty as to whether I am unknowingly already infected and if so, infecting other people and what course the disease might take in myself.
- „How does my further job progress?“ – as an expression of concern for my own workplace, the existence of my company or my self-employment, the job situation, the jobs of my employees, etc.
- „How will things continue for me personally?“ – many people are personally concerned about their families, about their livelihoods, including reserves for retirement provisions, about their relatives, friends, etc. These worries are often linked to the uncertainty that nobody can say at present how long this tense situation will last.
- „What am I doing, what are my partner and my children doing at home all day?“ – the Corona crisis is forcing many people to make home office or to stay at home alone, with partner and/or their children for an unforeseeable period of time and to leave their own four walls only in exceptional cases. This unfamiliar confinement of children and/or partners, other residents of the house and possibly pets can quickly lead to camp fever of those involved and the search for inspiring and creative answers to the question of how I can keep my children (or my partner or my pets) meaningfully occupied at home sooner or later takes on a drastically increasing and emotionally accompanied turn. Other people, especially singles who enjoy spending time with other people, can quickly suffer from enforced loneliness due to the need to avoid contact – even though social media provide them with opportunities to stay in touch with their friends and acquaintances.
- „How can I combine work and family/children?“ – many people who have to do home office work for professional reasons and at the same time look after their children at home because kindergartens and schools are closed are in a difficult dilemma to reconcile work and family without one suffering from the other. And it often turns out to be difficult if, for example, both professionals take part in two different telephone or video conferences that take place at the same time in the same work room.
- „Will I receive promised support services announced by politicians in time?“ – many people have considerable concerns about their financial existence in view of the Corona crisis. Especially freelance creatives, freelancers and self-employed persons, but also many employees and entrepreneurs of small and medium-sized companies often have only small reserves, the foreseeable consumption of which will drive them into a financial emergency situation, perhaps even insolvency, as soon as they see it. The support services promised by politicians are in a crass race against the foreseeable consumption of the individual financial reserves of those affected – and they hope that the state announced aid will cross the finish line before a possible personal insolvency does. Other people, especially in the health care sector, on the other hand, also urgently need protective equipment, respirators, intensive care beds, medication, treatment material and rapid tests, which have been promised by politicians, in order to be able to quickly and effectively counter the growing flood of Corona-infected people every day. And, of course, many people – whether justified or not – are worried about maintaining the food supply. In the face of hoarding and empty supermarket shelves that have been unknown in Germany for a long time, many people are wondering whether they will still be supplied with the essential food tomorrow.
- „I don’t know how X works!“ (X can be replaced by: technology, costs, regulations, rules of conduct etc.) – this extraordinary time demands extraordinary activities from all of us. Some examples of this: How do I set up a video conferencing application in my home office myself, when my IT specialist has usually done this for me? What is currently still allowed and what is now forbidden in view of the daily changing and regionally varying recommendations for behaviour and official directives? Am I entitled to claim short-time work compensation and how do I apply for it? What other financial support services can I currently claim? Google does have some and current answers, but not all.
- „What am I supposed to believe?“ – the flood of information that has continued since the beginning of the Corona crisis and that reaches us all via the social media and the Internet is driving all kinds of strange blossoms into people’s heads, in addition to a lot of well-researched, useful information and remarkably clear and understandable press releases. Of these, the countless more or less funny or serious postings on Facebook and elsewhere are still the most harmless spam – in contrast to the currently circulating conspiracy theories, which seem to „battle“ against each other in a secret contest known only to insiders, trying to outdo each other in originality and inconceivability. It has become extremely difficult for individuals to separate the wheat from the chaff quickly and efficiently. We ourselves, for example, concentrate only on official sources and have drastically limited our consumption of information ourselves – in order to have time for other things ourselves, especially for meaningful action in these times.
- Fears and stress – many people suffer from numerous fears and constant stress due to the unique and therefore very unfamiliar situation. The concrete triggers can be very diverse and several can occur together, e.g. because they feel restricted in their freedom; because they involuntarily find themselves in previously unknown situations where they cannot fall back on already existing experiences; because the future development per se is unpredictable; because they are bored in view of the „free time“ suddenly available to them and do not know what they want or have to do next; because other people do not follow rules or otherwise maltreat their already strained nerves.
- „I create stable structures for myself“ – but there are also many people who manage to „flip the psychic switch“ and take advantage of the opportunities they recognise during the Corona crisis. This includes, for example, creating new routines for oneself that help to structure the otherwise unregulated everyday life; finally starting with long postponed homework or projects; talking on the phone with old friends you haven’t heard from for a long time; reading a good book etc.
- Humour – many people also use a latently dormant or even openly practiced humour to cope with the current inconveniences of the crisis. Studies show that humour is one of the most effective and sustainable coping strategies available to us humans.
Individual Behaviour – Your individual-objective perspective on the Corona crisis
How does your behaviour objectively contribute to the Corona crisis?
Movement – Physical movements
This refers to concrete physical activities, physical movement sequences that help to promote or contain the Corona crisis:
- Touching contaminated objects (e.g. door handles, foreign smartphones), grasping the face, hugging or kissing other people – since the Corona virus apparently transmits mainly via droplet infection, possibly also as a smear infection, such physical activities tend to increase the risk of infection.
- Coughing, fever, shortness of breath as well as a reduced sense of smell and taste – are known signs of a possible Corona infection which should be clarified medically immediately.
- Wash hands regularly and thoroughly (at least 20 sec.), disinfect surfaces and hands regularly, wear mouth protection, avoid physical contact, keep a distance from other people (at least 1.5 m) – are known and proven physical activities which reduce the risk of Corona infection.
Action – Intentional behaviour
Actions are all human activities guided by motives and directed towards a goal. In view of the current Corona crisis, there are numerous actions that were previously hardly or only to a much lesser extent found in the everyday life of many people. Here are a few examples:
- Helping their own children at home with homeschooling (distance learning).
- To arrange the time at home for themselves or with their partner or children, including playing, crafts, tidying up, painting / drawing, making music or singing, cooking, watching television or films etc.
- Staying at home for an unknown period of time, with only short interruptions in your own four walls.
- Get informed daily about the current situation and the latest recommendations for behaviour.
- Keep important, long-lasting food and everyday necessities in stock and ration or portion them if necessary. Provide or set up appropriate, suitable storage space for these supplies.
- Avoid multi-person contexts, including supermarkets, shops, DIY stores, hotels, restaurants, bars, cinemas, theatres, museums, parks, discos, clubs, training in sports clubs, parties, celebrations, holidays, birthdays, weddings, funerals, flights, bus trips, train trips, public transport, etc. (and many more contexts).
- Keeping physically and mentally consciously fit and healthy, e.g. doing fitness exercises or yoga asanas at home, going jogging alone in the nearby forest, reading a book, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep etc.
Social Systems – Your inter-objective perspective on the Corona crisis
How do the various social systems – that is, YOU – inter-objectively prevent or enable the Corona crisis?
Interactions – Physical and natural systems
Under interactions we summarize all interactions and networks, structures of physical and natural systems. The following are just a few examples of many that may immediately catch the attention of the attentive observer of the environment:
- Recovery of the natural environment – due to the crises, a strong decrease in traffic and industrial production etc. and the associated spontaneous decrease in CO2 pollution, many people observe an equally spontaneous incipient recovery of nature (as already described above).
- Cities and public places are almost „deserted“ – due to the measures recommended or even officially ordered in many cities and regions not to be in public, many cities and places seem to be extinct. In most cities there are only a few cars and hardly any passers-by on the streets.
- Heavy load on the Internet and communications infrastructure – Due to the relocation of a large part of business-related computer activities from the company’s own local networks to the Internet and a parallel jump in private Internet activities – especially through home video streaming – many Internet providers can hardly keep up with the unexpected increase in Internet load and a corresponding upgrade of their infrastructures. This applies equally to Internet-bound services „in the cloud“, whose performance often also suffers noticeably under the ongoing Internet load.
- Empty supermarket shelves and warehouses, disruption and bottlenecks in the supply chains, long delivery times – the empty supermarket shelves caused by panicky hoarding purchases are still fresh and impressively remembered by many people. Less visible is the fact that the numerous logistic supply chains, some of which operate globally, that are working in the background have already been considerably disrupted and in some cases even interrupted due to the Corona crisis. While some production companies have to fill up their outgoing warehouses to the last place because the manufactured goods are no longer being transported away sufficiently, some wholesalers are complaining about empty warehouses in some cases because the replenishment of goods has been stopped for the same reasons. Transcontinental and intercontinental sea freight traffic is also extremely disrupted at present, with the result that many ships are sometimes sailing with considerable empty capacities (too few or no containers) or cannot discharge their cargo in time because bottlenecks in port logistics capacities do not allow this.
Noetic Systems – Social Systems
Noetic systems (from ancient Greek nous, „spirit, mind, reason“) include all social systems based on mental, abstract ideas, concepts and conceptions and on social agreements that ensure their permanent maintenance. They can be recognized only intellectually, although many of these noetic systems produce quite sensually experiencable, material expressions, e.g. „money“, „government“, „laws“, „legal entities“, „the NASDAQ“ or „the economy“. The clou about noetic systems is that all or as many people as possible have to believe in the (non-material) existence of these entities and trust them and accordingly coordinate their individual actions accordingly in order to remain assessable for their fellow human beings.
Let us briefly consider „money“ as an example to illustrate the characteristics of a noetic system: „Money“ manifests itself in the form of coins and banknotes of a currency in the material world, although the value of this currency is based solely on the confidence that the same (or an approximately similar) quantity of goods and services can be paid for with it, as in the past. All buyers and sellers rely on the stability of their currency, even though it is based on complete fiction– which can collapse at any time or be summarily terminated by a few people or selected institutions (for their part, noetic systems operating on the basis of contracts, which in turn are noetic entities) or replaced or supplemented by other fictitious means of payment (e.g. crypto-currencies, jelly beans, shells, glass beads, etc.).
With a view to overcoming the worldwide Corona crisis, a confusing number of noetic systems are actively involved, of which we can name only a few.
Let us start with some exemplary institutions of the health care system, which are primarily involved in the research of the Corona virus SARS-CoV-2 and in the medical care of Corona patients (with a focus on the German situation):
- Robert Koch-Institut based in Berlin – which continuously records the current situation, evaluates all information, assesses the risk for the population in Germany and provides recommendations for the expert public.
- John Hopkins University based in Baltimore, Maryland (USA) – the world’s leading medical Corona virus resource center, which statistically records and monitors Corona cases worldwide and coordinates the latest information and current studies on the COVID19 pandemic.
- Clinics and Hospitals that can provide intensive medical care for people who are seriously ill with a Corona infection, e.g. the Universitäts-Klinikum Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, the Charité in Berlin or the Medizinische Hochschule Hannover (MHH) – to mention just a few among many others – as well as doctors’ surgeries in which slightly ill patients receive medical care.
- Medical Emergency Service (i.e. telephone number 116117 of the Kassenärztliche Vereinigung Hamburg) – telephone contact point and initial consultation if a Corona infection is suspected and coordination of initial measures.
- Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) based in Berlin – the highest federal authority of the Federal Republic of Germany for the German public health care system.
- World Health Organization (WHO) based in Geneva (Switzerland) – United Nations coordinating authority for international public health, significantly involved in the worldwide coordination of national and international efforts to combat the COVID19 pandemic.
The situation in the German public health care system in the face of the Corona crisis is extremely critical and will probably continue to deteriorate in the coming days, weeks and perhaps months. Here are a few exemplary aspects:
- Doctors’ surgeries, hospitals, test laboratories, pharmacies, nursing services, health authorities, etc. are currently heavily overloaded, partly due to staff shortages caused by illness.
- The medical staff are working relentlessly around the clock in many areas – to the limits of their own physical and mental capacity (and often beyond).
- At the same time, medical personnel are exposed to an increased risk of infection due to the high-frequency, intensive and close contact with patients.
- There are still and again and again bottlenecks in medical care, e.g. medical facilities require, among other things, sufficient protective equipment, respirators, intensive care beds, medication, test materials and test capacities etc., which are lacking or decreasing in some places.
- According to leading experts, an effective vaccine approved by the health authorities can be expected in a few months at the earliest. The same applies to the development and approval of drugs for the effective treatment of a CoVID19 virus disease. Until then, the situation of patients and the health care system may deteriorate further.
- In addition to the continuously increasing number of patients, medical staff must create time to exchange information with colleagues on detailed aspects of the therapies used, etc. and to keep up to date with new findings on reliable diagnostic and effective therapeutic methods on a daily basis
In addition, numerous political and state institutions are also involved in coping with and containing the Corona crisis in Germany, of which we can mention just a few examples of many:
- The Federal Government, based in Berlin, consists of the Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Federal Ministers. In the context of the Corona crisis, the Federal Government coordinates nationwide necessary government measures to contain the Corona crisis, also in cooperation with other nations.
- Federal states and city states, administrative districts, counties and independent cities, associations of municipalities and communities – partly sovereign and territorially limited, federal administrative and self-governing units. In the course of the Corona crisis with the local and regional implementation and compliance of necessary containment measures „on site“ responsible.
- Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) based in Berlin – responsible, among other things, for German economic, energy, industrial and SME policy. In view of the expected economic consequences of the Corona crisis, is currently coordinating aid measures for German companies, e.g. short-time working allowance and other financial aid.
- Federal Ministry of the Interior, for Building and Heritage (BMI) with headquarters in Berlin – responsible for internal security (police, border guards), passports, identity cards and registration, public service and the organisation of public administration. With regard to the Corona crisis, currently primarily responsible for maintaining public order and enforcing necessary containment measures at federal level.
- Federal Foreign Office (AA) based in Berlin – Head Office of the Federal Foreign Service and responsible for German foreign and European policy. With a view to the Corona crisis, currently charged with, among other things, repatriating German holidaymakers „stranded“ abroad to Germany.
There are numerous other institutions (universities, research institutes, etc.), corporations (chambers of industry and commerce, guilds, associations, stock corporations, etc.), associations (e.g. employers’, employees’, sectoral and sports associations, trade unions, etc.) and other noetic systems which are also involved in managing the Corona crisis, but which cannot possibly all be mentioned here.
Many of the decided and initiated measures of these noetic systems – especially with regard to the health consequences of this crisis – aim at stopping the exponential growth of Corona infections, which entails a doubling of the number of cases in ever shorter time intervals. The overall dynamics of the Corona epidemic should thus be slowed in order to keep the limited resources of the public health care system operational and prevent it from collapsing.
In Germany, the Infection Protection Act (IfSG) forms the essential legal basis for the official measures to contain the current virus epidemic to be initiated and implemented. Since these measures in part massively interfere with the personal rights enshrined in the Basic Law (e.g. curfews), the authorities must always consider and keep in mind the proportionality of the measures in question.
Since the current development of the COVID19 epidemic differs from one federal state to another, the measures are correspondingly (meaningfully) inconsistent. Among others, North Rhine-Westphalia currently provides for the following measures (selection), which can be adopted or adapted to the changed circumstances depending on the development of the situation:
- Prohibition of entry for returnees from risk areas;
- Visiting bans on hospitals and nursing homes;
- Opening bans for pubs, bars, cafes, discotheques, theatres, trade fairs, exhibitions, fitness studios, swimming pools, amusement arcades and many other facilities;
- Prohibitions on opening retail outlets (with certain exceptions that ensure the basic supply of the population);
- Extended opening on Sundays and public holidays for certain retail and wholesale businesses;
- Restricted access, for example to libraries, canteens, restaurants, cafeterias and hotels;
- Limited access to shopping centres;
- Prohibition of tourist accommodation;
- General ban on events.
There is also a legal obligation to report Corona infections.
Violations of the official measures are subject to fines, in some federal states – in severe cases – up to € 25,000 or imprisonment.
Many German enterprises – from small and medium-sized companies to large corporations – across all industries are also suffering considerably from the economic consequences of the Corona crisis, including the closure of shops, restaurants and shopping centres, the cancellation of events, order cancellations, production and delivery bottlenecks, etc. For the foreseeable future, many companies will have to resort to state support services to secure their existence and the jobs of their employees.
With a view to the German foreign trade and the international dynamics of the Corona crisis and its effects, here are also a few exemplary examples:
- Many countries around the world close their external borders and have entry restrictions to reduce the risk of infection by infected immigrants. In Europe, for the first time in 25 years, the Schengen Agreement is being massively and almost completely suspended. The border closures of many EU countries during the Corona crisis not only lead to massive traffic problems, but increasingly jeopardize the supply of vital goods. Living and working in neighbouring countries has become considerably more difficult or impossible for many people.
- Many countries also impose travel restrictions on tourists. Within Germany, for example, all northern German islands have been closed to tourists and tourists are no longer allowed to enter Schleswig-Holstein.
- The charter flight and scheduled flight traffic has meanwhile almost come to a standstill on many routes worldwide. On the initiative of the Federal Government, and coordinated by the Federal Foreign Office, German holidaymakers who are „stranded“ abroad are therefore flown back to Germany from their holiday destinations in aircraft chartered directly by the Federal Government.
- The economic crash of many national real economies as a result of the Corona crisis has caused the financial markets to suffer the most severe losses in decades. The massive price losses are fuelling fears of a new financial crisis.
Cultures – Your inter-subjective perspective on the Corona crisis
How do the various cultures – that is, WE – inter-subjectively prevent or enable the Corona crisis?
Communion – Interbody Dimensions
By communion we mean concrete cultural practices with others and somatic experiences shared between people. In the face of the current Corona crisis, there are many such practices and shared experiences that are directly related to this crisis, or that have been changed accordingly by the crisis. Here are some examples:
- Dating and meeting friends (in a physical place) – should be avoided at present due to the risk of infection.
- Celebrating with other people – should also be avoided, but unfortunately it happens again and again. Especially so-called „Corona parties“ show that the participants of such events have not really grasped the seriousness of the situation or simply ignore it.
- Doing sport – most fitness centres and clubs currently do not offer any possibilities to pursue the usual sports activities due to the Corona crisis. Sports can and should currently be pursued alone, e.g. jogging, yoga or fitness exercises at home or in your own garden.
- Dining out – most restaurants, bars, cafés and bistros are closed until further notice. Therefore it is hardly possible to go out to eat in public anymore. Instead, in many households, cooking for oneself is enjoying a new popularity. Delivery services still partly supply their customers with food.
- Attending cultural events – most events have now been cancelled. Instead, many artists, musicians, and clubs are moving to make their artistic offerings available to a large Internet community via streaming, sometimes for free.
- Visiting the family – due to the high risk of infection, this is currently also not useful and helpful for those involved. In some cases, however, it is necessary and unavoidable for relatives to care for those in need of care.
- Television, streaming – enjoys massive popularity due to the limited alternatives for leisure activities.
- Use of social media, „surfing“ on the Internet – the already intensive use is becoming more and more popular, especially as this is a good way to keep informed and to be in exchange with others.
- Taking a holiday, travelling – as long as the holiday does not take place at home, it is now difficult to travel, as many tour operators cancel offered trips and many tourism centres have now closed down. It has been shown that tourism destinations have played an underestimated, significant role in the spread of the COVID19 virus, as many people have become infected with each other in a very short space of time in a small area (e.g. in an après-ski bar in the ski resort Ischgl in Tyrol, where an infected bartender unknowingly infected many guests).
- Going out, visiting certain places (e.g. the park, the city, the garden, etc.) – alone or with people living in the household is possible and reasonable, as long as sufficient distance to other people is maintained and there are no exit restrictions. Many places with gastronomic offers outside, e.g. beer gardens or ice cream parlours, are currently closed for safety reasons.
Community – Common horizons
Of course, the Corona crisis also has a significant impact on almost all communities. By a community we mean a group of people who together follow a common purpose or meaning, or – more technically speaking – whose communications revolve primarily around a common topic (we also speak of a „predominant mode of discourse“). Characteristic of each community is that it shapes a determined worldview, certain ideas, and a certain sense of „we“ that is different from other communities. For example, a diving club attracts different people (namely people with an interest in diving) than a particular political party or religious community.
In view of the Corona crisis, the predominant mode of discourse has changed considerably in most communities. Current leading questions of some exemplary communities make this clear:
- Neighbourhoods – because many people are currently at home, you get to know your fellow human beings in the immediate neighbourhood in a new, more intensive way, or for the first time. The key question that concerns most of these neighbours is currently: „How can we help each other in and through this crisis?“ Accordingly, this crisis has greatly increased neighbourly solidarity and gratitude in many places. People thank their neighbours, shop owners, supermarket employees, etc., for the fact that, despite the crisis that also affects them, they are doing their community service, helping others in medical practices, giving comfort, going shopping for elderly neighbours (who are among the risk groups), selling food, filling shelves.
- Doctors and nurses – these communities in doctor’s surgeries, hospitals and other medical facilities suffer considerably from the extreme overload that accompanies the medical measures to contain the COVID19 pandemic. Their thoughts and actions revolve in particular around essential issues, such as:
- „How can we maintain our own medical operation?“
- „How do we make difficult decisions? And which ones do we make?“
- „How can we further improve or change our treatment procedures, diagnostic methods etc. in order to be able to treat people even better tomorrow?“
- „How can we maintain the health system as a whole?“
- Corona patients – many of these people who are directly (more or less severely) affected by a Corona infection are driven by remorse, shame and self-reproach: „If only I had done X (or refrained from doing Y), I would not have infected myself / other people“, often with the desire for a comprehensive and rapid information of their fellow human beings. Depending on the severity of the disease, these people fight with the Corona virus and sometimes for their survival. If they have survived the Corona infection, they now belong to those people who are immune to this virus.
- Risk groups – especially older people and people with certain pre-existing diseases are regarded as risk groups because they are exposed to higher health risks due to the COVID19 pandemic (infection, severe disease progression). These risk groups also enjoy the solidarity shown to them, where, for example, fellow human beings do the shopping for them so that they can stay at home for their own health security. Telephone, Internet and other social media are often welcome as this allows them to stay in touch with their relatives, friends and acquaintances. Knowing the serious consequences of an illness, they also voluntarily avoid social contacts in order to stay healthy. The situation is difficult in nursing homes where visiting is prohibited, so that the social contact of these people in need of care is kept to a minimum.
- Employees, entrepreneurs, managers in companies – many employees, managers, entrepreneurs and shareholders of companies of all sizes feel the economic consequences of the Corona crisis considerably. Many of the communications between them revolve around issues such as:
- „How can we remain (at least sufficiently) productive despite the tense situation? How can we organise short-time work, for example?“
- „How can we secure the existence of our company and jobs beyond the crisis?“
- „How can we maintain our liquidity to avoid bankruptcy?“
- Self-employed people, freelancers, small entrepreneurs, artists, etc. – the consequences of the Corona crisis hit this group particularly hard, as most of them have little or no financial reserves and in view of the Corona crisis are suddenly confronted with numerous cancellations of orders, e.g. because performances are cancelled, clients themselves are in need, etc. Their thinking is currently centred around the question of how they manage to maintain their livelihoods.
- Sceptics, Corona deniers, conspiracy theorists – this spectrum of people is quite heterogeneous and ranges from people with a pronounced scepticism towards politics and government to abuse these chaotic times to extend their own power, to people who play down the Corona crisis, consider the measures taken to be drastically exaggerated, and publish many articles about it in the social media, up to people who „know“ that the Corona crisis with all its consequences was intentionally (at choice) triggered by the Chinese, the Russians, the USA or the extraterrestrials who conspired against us for their benefit.
- Prepper scene – People who stocked up on weeks of food, water and other daily necessities for possible catastrophes – so-called preppers – were long smiled at as a bizarre community of paranoid, quirky birds. They feel that the Corona pandemic has confirmed this and now they are reassured that they are doing the right thing.
Types – Eros and Agape
The fourth considered aspect of the Integral Model are types. Types are classes of aspects of a personality which can manifest themselves at virtually any stage of development and in any state – and which essentially determine how you perceive, structure, interpret and evaluate yourself and the world around you. The special thing about types is their stability, i.e. they not change „typically“, but remain characteristic over time. The biological sex given to every human being is a good example: it typically remains as such for a lifetime.
In psychology, numerous typologies have been proposed and researched. Many of them could also be applied to the Corona crisis. However, here we would like to discuss two basic types which are involved in each of us and which influence accordingly what drives us unconsciously – namely Eros and Agape.
Eros and Agape denote the two forces or principles inherent in every human being, which unconsciously influence our thinking, acting and feeling in a decisive way. Eros represents the male power, which wants to act and be able to act, while Agape embodies the female energy to keep communities together and to stay in contact with other people.
Both forces act in each of us and they do not correspond to the biological sex. You probably know very masculine men and very feminine women – but you probably also know quite feminine men and quite masculine women. That which makes these men (and women) appear „feminine“ or „masculine“ is caused by Eros or Agape.
In view of the Corona crisis, the forces of Eros and Agape, which work in each of us in a specific balance, tend to be reinforced.
The energy of Eros, which tends to strive and act forward, may not have enough opportunities to express itself due to the current situation – thus has a problem with being not sufficiently active. Instead, this energy is confronted with feelings of impotence and lack of freedom, which can take the urge to act to the extreme. People with such pronounced Eros tendencies find it difficult in these times to calm themselves or to keep calm or even to wait idly. For them it can be useful to look for projects that they can actively promote in these times, e.g. to renovate their home, to work in the garden, to make repairs etc.
The energy of Agape, which tends to keep communities together and in contact with other people, is also suffering greatly from the current crisis – but for other reasons. Rather, it has a big problem with the spatial distance to fellow human beings recommended by all experts, which goes completely against its nature. People with a pronounced agape tendency often suffer these days from the frustration of not being allowed to „connect“ as well as from emotional overloadcaused by an empathic resonance with fellow human beings who are also suffering. For them it can be very healing to actively maintain contact and exchange with friends, relatives and other people via telephone, Skype or other social media or to help fellow people in the neighbourhood.
States of Consciousness
The fifth and last aspect of the Integral Model considered are states, and here especially states of consciousness, which determine in which state range phenomena appear in your consciousness, e.g. waking, dreaming or deep sleep.
The Integral Model distinguishes five distinct states of consciousness:
- Waking state – the manifest waking state of consciousness represents the material, „objective“, sensorimotor world of forms, „matter“ and the simple perception/recognition of these via the senses.
- Dream state – the subtle dream state of consciousness represents the world of the mind with all its mental abilities, images and feelings and its higher insights and intuitions. This state is experienced every night during sleep, in the so-called dream sleep or REM (rapid eye movement) phase, but can also be experienced in the waking state itself, e.g. during daydreams, in creative situations, improvisation etc.
- Causal, dreamless state of deep sleep – the causal state of deep sleep represents the world of the first forms of manifestation that emerge from emptiness, formlessness. This state is hidden and unknown to most people because their „I“ is not conscious during deep sleep and therefore cannot consciously observe this state. It requires a consistent meditation practice to consciously perceive this state as a state.
- Witnessing or Turiya-Consciousness – this state, also accessible to most people only after consequent meditation practice, represents a pure empty witnessing or unqualifiable pure awareness. This awareness is even without object, but always present to be aware of all manifest, subtle or causal objects.
- Non-dual Consciousness or Turiyatita-Consciousness – this state, also this one accessible to most people only after consequent meditation practice, is sometimes called „ultimate unity consciousness“. This consciousness means the union of the empty witness with all witnessed objects, the union of emptiness with all forms, the union of the witnessing self or true seer with all that is witnessed. This state of mind denotes the final enlightenment or awakening. The interpretation of this non-dual consciousness is determined by consciousness structures that have been achieved so far.
So how is the Corona crisis in all its aspects perceived from the perspective of these different states of consciousness?
In the waking state the simple perception and recognition of aspects of this crisis via the senses can be limited by the ongoing stress and lead to a narrowed tunnel vision. So we tend to perceive less and hide more aspects of the crisis than under normal circumstances – because our organism is currently primarily in a „fight or flight“ mode.
The subtle dream state is highly active for many people in view of the crisis. The current tumbling events and impressions and the overwhelming flood of information puts many people into a kind of permanent trance, in which they focus on their subtle inner world and the fears, expectations, hopes and worries that are constantly circulating in their minds – but also on constructive considerations, creative solution ideas for current problems, etc.
The three states of causal, dreamless deep sleep, witness and non-dual consciousness, which are primarily accessible through meditation, will _not be discussed here _ as they are not accessible to the majority of people affected by the crisis and would cause more confusion than clarity in this description of the crisis.
The Corona crisis – More clarity, more orientation!
We have now reached the destination of our journey together. How do you feel at the destination? How does this journey affect you? Let us briefly look back at the highlights of our journey.
The Corona crisis affects all of us – without exception.
This crisis is a „wicked problem“ which certainly cannot be solved by conventional means, because it is multidimensional, has many causes and many symptoms, involves many actors and has many different solutions, and is also constantly evolving.
Just a few weeks ago, we were all still lacking a great deal of information to understand many aspects of this crisis – presumably this has also led many people to wait passively for how things will develop. Well – in retrospect, we are all a little bit smarter.
In the meantime, there is also a lot of really helpful and reliable information on the many aspects of this crisis. However, up to now we have lacked overviews that would provide orientation and help us to put the many pieces of the puzzle together to form an overall picture. That is why we have written this article.
Together with you we applied Ken Wilber’s Integral Approach to the Corona crisis and looked at it from all possible angles of the Integral Model – developmental lines, structures, quadrants, types and states. The result is a coherent, complete overall picture.
This report of our journey together is very detailed and comprehensive – perhaps it seems overly detailed to you. At the same time, the application of the Integral Approach to such a „wicked problem“ shows the strength of the Integral Approach – despite the detailed description, this is still a very condensed and above all structured overall view of the Corona crisis.
With the Integral Model, you can structure chaotic and complex problems as you wish and thereby obtain new, meaningful orientations for your understanding of unclear situations and for your own actions.
We hope that you were able to broaden and deepen your understanding of the Corona crisis during our journey together. And thus gain more orientation and clarity in these chaotic and confusing times.
We are very interested in your opinion on this overall view. Feel free to give us feedback on it.
If this article has helped you, please share it with your relatives, friends and other interested people – we want to help as many people as possible to gain more clarity and orientation.
We are here for you! If you yourself currently need help and support due to the current crisis, please contact us. We also offer coaching, consulting and therapeutic support online for current reasons.
We wish you and your dearest fellow human beings many good experiences in these difficult times, great encounters with your fellow human beings, sufficient prudence – and above all:
Stay tuned, stay healthy – and stay at home if possible!
Isa & Julian.