T H I S
quote by Mr Palahniuk,
Author of the FIGHT CLUB
isn’t the nicest or classiest way
to open up
A Caring Catalyst
Monday Morning Blog
about growing older
which some equate to
d e c a y i n g
d y i n g. . .
It’s like choosing:
YOU LOOK LIKE THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING
THE LAST DAY OF WINTER
we’re not doing the choosing. . .
So kick back
and exhale loudly
W A T C H
(I think you’ll agree, not just in this blog…but often THE ENDING is better than
A SIMPLE QUESTION :
JUST HOW DO YOU USUALLY READ A SITUATION. . .
FROM THE TOP
D O W N
FROM THE DOWN
s i m p l e
A N S W E R. . .
IT’S BEEN THAT KIND OF YEAR
. . .the kind of year that makes you a little afraid to look
ARE YOU FOR THE BETTER
ARE YOU FOR THE WORSE
The Rear View Mirror
speculation is already underway
and it may not stop for at least
a real good
LET’S TAKE A LOOK BACK
some fifty years down the road
but here’s what we kind of know
FOR BETTER FOR WORSE
question just over the past
of this still
not-completely-over-pandemic. . .
Fifty-seven scientists make predictions about potential positive and negative consequences of the pandemic.
How do pandemics change our societies? It is tempting to believe that there will not be a single sector of society untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a quick look at previous pandemics in the 20th century reveals that such negative forecasts may be vastly exaggerated.
Prior pandemics have corresponded to changes in architecture and urban planning, and a greater awareness of public health. Yet the psychological and societal effects of the Spanish flu, the worst pandemic of the 20th century, were later perceived as less dramatic than anticipated, perhaps because it originated in the shadow of WWI. Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud described Spanish flu as a “Nebenschauplatz”—a sideshow in his life of that time, even though he eventually lost one of his daughters to the disease. Neither do we recall much more recent pandemics: the Asian flu of 1957 and the Hong Kong flu from 1968.
Imagining and planning for the future can be a powerful coping mechanism to gain some sense of control in an increasingly unpredictable pandemic life. Over the past year, some experts proclaimed that the world after COVID would be a completely different place, with changed values and a new map of international relations. The opinions of oracles who were not downplaying the virus were mostly negative. Societal unrest and the rise of totalitarian regimes, stunted child social development, mental health crises, exacerbated inequality, and the worst economic recession since the Great Depression were just a few worries discussed by pundits and on the news.
Other predictions were brighter—the disruptive force of the pandemic would provide an opportunity to reshape the world for the better, some said. To complement the voices of journalists, pundits, and policymakers, one of us (Igor Grossman) embarked on a quest to gather opinions from the world’s leading scholars on behavioral and social science, founding the World after COVID project.
The World after COVID project is a multimedia collection of expert visions for the post-pandemic world, including scientists’ hopes, worries, and recommendations. In a series of 57 interviews, we invited scientists, along with futurists, to reflect on the positive and negative societal or psychological change that might occur after the pandemic, and the type of wisdom we need right now. Our team used a range of methodological techniques to quantify general sentiment, along with common and unique themes in scientists’ responses.
The results of this interview series were surprising, both in terms of the variability and ambivalence in expert predictions. Though the pandemic has and will continue to create adverse effects for many aspects of our society, the experts observed, there are also opportunities for positive change, if we are deliberate about learning from this experience.
Three opportunities after COVID-19
Scientists’ opinions about positive consequences were highly diverse. As the graph shows, we identified 20 distinct themes in their predictions. These predictions ranged from better care for elders, to improved critical thinking about misinformation, to greater appreciation of nature. But the three most common categories concerned social and societal issues.
1. Solidarity. Experts predicted that the shared struggles and experiences that we face due to the pandemic could foster solidarity and bring us closer together, both within our communities and globally. As clinical psychologist Katie A. McLaughlin from Harvard University pointed out, the pandemic could be “an opportunity for us to become more committed to supporting and helping one another.”
Similarly, sociologist Monika Ardelt from the University of Florida noted the possibility that “we realize these kinds of global events can only be solved if we work together as a world community.” Social identities—such as group memberships, nationality, or those that form in response to significant events such as pandemics or natural disasters—play an important role in fostering collective action. The shared experience of the pandemic could help foster a more global, inclusive identity that could promote international solidarity.
2. Structural and political changes. Early in the pandemic, experts also believed that we might also see proactive efforts and societal will to bring about structural and political changes toward a more just and diversity-inclusive society. Experts observed that the pandemic had exposed inequalities and injustices in our societies and hoped that their visibility might encourage societies to address them.
Philosopher Valerie Tiberius from the University of Minnesota suggested that the pandemic might bring about an “increased awareness of our vulnerability and mutual dependence.”
Fellow of the Royal Institute for International Affairs in the U.K. Anand Menon proposed that the pandemic might lead to growing awareness of economic inequality, which could lead to “greater sustained public and political attention paid to that issue.” Cultural psychologist Ayse Uskul from Kent University in the U.K. shared this sentiment and predicted that this awareness “will motivate us to pick up a stronger fight against the unfair distribution of resources and rights not just where we live, but much more globally.”
3. Renewed social connections. Finally, the most common positive consequence discussed was that we might see an increased awareness of the importance of our social connections. The pandemic has limited our ability to connect face to face with friends and families, and it has highlighted just how vulnerable some of our family members and neighbors might be. Greater Good Science Center founding director and UC Berkeley professor Dacher Keltner suggested that the pandemic might teach us “how absolutely sacred our best relationships are” and that the value of these relationships would be much higher in the post-pandemic world. Past president of the Society of Evolution and Human Behavior Douglas Kenrick echoed this sentiment by predicting that “tighter family relationships would be the most positive outcome of this [pandemic].”
Similarly, Jennifer Lerner—professor of decision-making from Harvard University—discussed how the pandemic had led people to “learn who their neighbors are, even though they didn’t know their neighbors before, because we’ve discovered that we need them.” These kinds of social relationships have been tied to a range of benefits, such as increased well-being and health, and could provide lasting benefits to individuals.
How about predictions for negative consequences of the pandemic? Again, opinions were variable, with more than half of the themes were mentioned by less than 10% of our interviewees. Only two predictions were mentioned by at least ten experts: the potential for political unrest and increased prejudice or racism. These predictions highlight a tension in expert predictions: Whereas some scholars viewed the future bright and “diversity-inclusive,” others fear the rise in racism and prejudice. Before we discuss this tension, let us examine what exactly scholars meant by these two worries.
1. Increased prejudice or racism. Many experts discussed how the conditions brought about by the pandemic could lead us to focus on our in-group and become more dismissive of those outside our circles. Incheol Choi, professor of cultural and positive psychology from Seoul National University, discussed that his main area of concern was that “stereotypes, prejudices against other group members might arise.” Lisa Feldman Barrett, fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the Royal Society of Canada, echoed this sentiment, noting that previous epidemics saw “people become more entrenched in their in-group and out-group beliefs.”
2. Political unrest. Similarly, many experts discussed how a greater focus on our in-groups might also exacerbate existing political divisions. Past president of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology Paul Bloom discussed how a greater dismissiveness toward out-groups was visible both within countries and internationally, where “countries are blaming other countries and not working together enough.” Dilip Jeste, past president of the American Psychiatric Association, discussed his concerns that the tendency to view both candidates and supporters as winners and losers in elections could mean that the “political polarization that we are observing today in the U.S. and the world will only increase.”
These predictions were not surprising—pundits and other public figures have been discussing these topics, too. However, as we analyzed and compared predictions for positive and negative consequences, we found something unexpected.
The yin and yang of COVID’s effects
Almost half of the interviewees spontaneously mentioned that the same change could be a force for good and for bad. In other words, they were dialectical, recognizing the multidetermined nature of predictions and acknowledging that context matters—context that determines who may be the winners and losers in the years to come. For example, experts predicted that we may see greater acceptance of digital technologies at home and at work. But besides the benefits of this—flexible work schedules, reduced commutes—they also mentioned likely costs, such as missing social information in virtual communication and disadvantages for people who cannot afford high-speed internet or digital devices.
Amid this complexity, experts weighed in on what type of wisdom we need to help bring about more positive changes ahead. Not only do we need the will to sustain political and structural change, many argued, but also a certain set of psychological strategies promoting sound judgment: perspective taking, critical thinking, recognizing the limits of our knowledge, and sympathy and compassion.
In other words, experts’ recommended wisdom focuses on meta-cognition, which underlies successful emotion regulation, mindfulness, and wiser judgment about complex social issues. The good news is that these psychological strategies are malleable and trainable; one way we can cultivate wisdom and perspective, for example, is by adopting a third-person, observer perspective on our challenges.
On the surface, the “it depends” attitude of many experts about the world after COVID may be dissatisfying. However, as research on forecasting shows, such a dialectical attitude is exactly what distinguishes more accurate forecasters from the rest of the population. Forecasting is hard and predictions are often uncertain and likely wrong. In fact, despite some hopes for the future, it is equally possible that the change after the pandemic will not even be noticeable. Not because changes will not happen, but because people quickly adjust to their immediate circumstances.
The future will tell whether and how the current pandemic has altered our societies. In the meantime, the World after COVID project provides a time-stamped window into experts’ apartments and their minds. As we embrace another pandemic spring, these insights can serve as a reminder that the pandemic may lead not only to worries but also to hopes for the years ahead.
FOR BETTER OR WORSE. . .
that’s not really the biggest question, is it. . . ?
The BIGGER question is
What’s been the greatest take aways
that’s made you list all of the
. . .that’s right,
WHAT SAY YOU?
(That’s what matters most going forward in your World History Book)
Has it been the kind of year that’s had you being more
(fill in the blank)__________________________
It most likely won’t take 50 years of review
T H A T
o u t. . .
Some Coffee Commercial, huh. . . ?
When I saw it this past week
somehow the first thought that came to my mind wasn’t,
“WOW, DO I WANT A CUP OF HOT COFFEE AT THIS VERY MOMENT!”
and then I researched it a little bit
AND THEN I RESEARCHED IT A LITTLE BIT MORE
and saw that it was Charlie Chaplin that actually made the speech
AND SAW THAT IT WAS CHARLIE CHAPLIN THAT ACTUALLY MADE THE SPEECH AS A CHARACTER THAT RESEMBLED HITLER
AND THEN I SAW THAT
“In “The Great Dictator”, Chaplin plays two identical characters – the Jewish Barber and Adenoid Hynkel. Hynkel is a stand-in for Hitler. At the end of the movie, the Barber has replaced Hynkel and delivers the speech we hear in the commercial. Therefore, it’s not Hynkel/Hitler delivering the speech, it’s the Barber. Of course, the speech is really Chaplin’s plea for understanding.”
IT IS WAY MORE THAN JUST
IT IS WAY MORE THAN JUST
HOW YOU SEE THINGS
IT IS JUST THE WAY
(and that may be the toughest way of all to see things)
Without a doubt
. . .our life doesn’t come
(BUT IT DOES HAVE INSTRUCTORS)
or subtitles. . .
the seemingly non-existent subtitles
are ones you can’t read
or are in a foreign language
or much like life
. . .comes at you upside down
When all we really want to do is read
as we are read
We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You the people have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Let us all unite!
as we are
. . .but that just might be too much to ask for
TOO MUCH TO
. . .rub your eyes again
b l i n k
(no subtitles necessary)
It’s real easy to feel
over these past few weeks;
there aren’t many that feel the
they did three months ago
six months ago
twelve months ago. . .
IS THAT A GOOD THING?
I have long had to give up one of my favorite things in life:
R U N N I N G
even walking is no small task
but I’m able to get out
in spite of the sore knees
at the pace of a ruptured turtle
and it’s come with a blessing:
S I G H T
it’s almost as if I was blind all of those years
when I would run
always trying to beat the day before’s
T I M E
and only caring about
in personal record times
but now I see
what I never looked for
what I never cared about observing
S E E
not just with my Lasik improved eyes
but my ever sensing soul
A FALLEN ROTTING TREE:
Once a Provider of Shadows
not I lay in them
in a veil
that doesn’t quite hide me
but conceals who I was once
Even not never Breaking
by elements over time
that wears no watch
keeps no seconds
and can’t be stopped
never again to suck from the earth
only to be sucked into
with the harsh gravity of decay
I use to reach tall
for the sun
now I soil myself
A caster of shadows
A Shade provider
A silhouette maker
now a mere holder of nuances
A Barkless whimper
an unoffered whispered prayer
A silent shout
knowing they can never grow
last long enough
and wild flowers
I once grew
now I make grow
Ever to remain
in one Season
A New One
It’s amazing what you see when
W A T C H I N G
sometimes means to
N O U R I S H
instead of being
n o u r i s h e d
f e e l i n g
lately. . .
maybe it’s not so much a question
that needs to be asked
in another way. . .
also mean time, mid-14c., mene-time, “interim, interval between one specified time and another” (now only in in the mean time), from mean (adj.2) “middle, intermediate” + time (n.). Late 14c. as an adverb, “during the interval (between one specified time and another).” As a noun, properly written as two words but commonly as one, after the adverb. In the mean space “meanwhile” was in use 16c.-18c.
Have you ever done that. . . ?
. . .Actually used a word or a phrase
thinking it to be one thing
but having it literally have a different
d e f i n i t i o n
. . .u s e
Maybe it’s just all about
P E R S P E C T I V E
of not just how we see things
SHARE THEM. . .
“IN THE MEANTIME,”
I’ve said that a million of times
seemingly using it in the right way
as defined from above
but these past two weeks
with the World
literally being turned on its axis
it’s taken on another
M E A N
Are we living in the
M E A N
(Did I miss any?)
Over toilet paper
Personal Protective Equipment
(Did I miss any?)
But in the
I choose to be
(Did I miss any?)
Then. . .
Help me fill in the
but in the
M E A N
It severely makes me wonder. . .
makes me question. . .
By now, you likely know that Prince William and Kate Middleton had their third child, Louis, who joins older siblings George and Charlotte. You likely also know that Prince Harry is set to marry American actor Meghan Markle next month. Perhaps you even know that the royal wedding will be held at St. George’s Chapel, and will include a lemon- and elderflower-flavored cake and a teenage cellist.
In short: The royals have infiltrated our collective consciousness.
The question is, W H Y?
“We’re social animals,” says Dr. Frank Farley, a professor and psychologist at Temple University and a former American Psychological Association president. “With famous media figures, people we learn about, celebrities, et cetera, we often live some of our lives through them.”
Celebrities, in particular, may capture this sort of attention because they illustrate the things we’ve been taught to covet, however subconsciously. “We all have dreams of wealth and fame and happiness and style and social influence and so on, which starts early with fairy tales and the way we raise our kids,” Farley says, adding that it plays into our deep-seated attraction to heroism. “That stays with us, to some extent, through our lives. Royals and other people, like Hollywood figures and Kardashian types, keep that phenomenon alive.”
“We live in a media-saturated time,” Farley says. “In a sense, there’s no escape. Some people will become interested in the details.”
While social media has likely only exacerbated this effect, the concept of celebrity worship is a long-standing one. Lynn McCutcheon, editor of the North American Journal of Psychology, began researching the phenomenon in 2001, and since then more than 50 studies have been dedicated to the topic.
In McCutcheon’s seminal paper on celebrity worship, published in 2002 by the British Journal of Psychology, he and his colleagues sorted fans into four categories, based on their responses to a 23-point Celebrity Attitude Scale. Those on the lowest end of the spectrum, according to the research, merely watched or read about celebrities on their own. Those in the first category of true celebrity worship turned the activity into a social pursuit, sharing and discussing it with others. This type of behavior is usually harmless, McCutcheon says, and “most of the people that we call celebrity worshippers never get beyond this.”
Certain traits may predispose people to higher levels of celebrity worship, including anxiety, general irresponsibility and difficulty forming close relationships, McCutcheon says. (Loneliness and lower intelligence may also be related, albeit to a lesser extent.) Evidence also suggests that gambling addicts are more likely to be celebrity worshippers, McCutcheon says.
The media also plays a part. “All the latest media have contributed to [celebrity worship],” McCutcheon says. “It makes it easier for people to feel like they are really attached to somebody, other than a mere parasocial attachment.”
The language and history shared by the U.S. and the U.K. is important. “The very fact that [the monarchy] has continued [in Britain] is a curiosity for us: That’s the royal family we got rid of, in a sense,” Farley says.
But unlike in Farley’s native Canada — a former British colony where monarchical influence is still present, if largely symbolic — Americans, who “threw the bums out a long time ago,” are able to look back on this history purely with curiosity, he says. “You can view it as entertainment, an interesting story we’ve got going here” — especially now, as Markle, a divorced American and a woman of color, marries into the British monarchy.
“Life is hard, and becoming a success is difficult,” Farley says. “Look at these people: They inherited wealth, and social influence, and style, and fame, and they live this fairy tale life in castles — all the stuff that we grow up on.”
Interesting Word, huh:
P E R S P E C T I V E
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm of the DAY:
P E R S P E C T I V E
Just how is that we can pay so much attention
to people we don’t even know
but know of
and not the people
we know of
and actually know. . .
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. . .
but we don’t have a
C A R I N G
(or lack thereof)
Problem in our World. . .
May their greatest memories
be those they’ve yet to create. . .
O U R ‘ S, T O O
It was an early Saturday morning
at Ames Family Hospice House
an Inpatient Unit for
Hospice of Western Reserve;
I was meeting a group of under graduate students from
Case Western Reserve University
to talk with them about
End of Life Issues
and what Hospice means
and could mean for them in their life times.
It’s a tour I have conducted with Dr. Maryjo Prince-Paul,
their Professor for the last three years,
an excellent Educator/Informer
A former Certified Hospice Nurse
and an even better Friend. . .
I had just began talking with the students
having asking them to tell me
Their Reason for taking this class;
Dr Prince-Paul asked me to share a few
of which I have a Memory Field of them:
Spiritual and Emotional
and all of the Psycho-Social dynamics
intermeshed into the fabric of these
death and dying issues. . .
I noticed as I was talking to these students
before the tour of the facility
a man walked into the back of the community living room
we had gathered
and sat, drinking his coffee;
THEN IT HAPPENED. . .
I asked the students if they had any questions
and Dr. Prince-Paul if she had any further comments
before we began the tour
and this brother of a patient at the inpatient Unit
stood with his hand raised and asked if he could make a comment;
Out all the tours and talks I had ever presented since beginning my
Hospice career in 1994,
this had never happened. . .
He began with:
“LISTEN TO WHAT THIS MAN IS TELLING YOU”
He continued by stating that he has seen death up close and personal
having served three tours in Vietnam
but seeing his younger brother dying of brain cancer
was an indescribable tour he’d never thought he’d have to journey;
he went on the praise
what an unbelievable healing experience this had been for he
and his other family members
who no longer could effectively take care of his brother
like the inpatient unit was now doing;
most valuably allowing them to be
to their brother, the patient
instead of Caregivers.
After speaking for nearly ten minutes
of which he had a very engaged and captive audience,
Dr Prince-Paul asked him his name:
“J o h n”
He apologized for ‘butting’ in;
but we thanked him for
TEACHING US ALL
what a lecture
what a book
what a class
what a measly tour
could never promise
AUTHENTIC, HONEST, HEARTFELT, MEANINGFUL
T E S T I M O N Y
J o h n
spoke from his heart
and we each heard with ours. . .
I couldn’t have hit a secret remote control button
that could have made it any more timely;
that could have made it any more significant. . .
My take away
no doubt was different than the students
that gathered together on that early Saturday morning. . .
As a veteran hospice employee
he taught me out of our vast resources
and our willingness to use and
our expertise to implement them
It’s not that it’s NOT
It’s not that it’s NOT
It’s not that it’s NOT
Our Particular Sounds
It’s not that it’s not our Surroundings and Perspectives
And not even so much as the Story
that needs Sharing
So much as a Willingness
to give that VOICE
An open Ear
A P L A T F O R M. . .
To be A Caring Catalyst
is to be the Hearer of THAT Story
Are you THAT Person?
I told dozens of stories
but it’s the one that I heard
(and now re-tell)
that was experienced
the most. . .
“You’re young,” John told the group.
“You have your whole lives in front of you,” he continued; “that you are here this morning to learn; that you’re here to do something great with your lives for others is good.”
for writing on a previously blank page of our books
that which will never be blank again;
nor will the pages we now will write following. . .
Amazing, isn’t it?
. . .There’s one thing to Seeing a Wave;
. . .There’s another thing to Catching a Wave;
. . .There’s another thing to Being a Wave;
. . .There’s another thing to SHARING A WAVE;
Just like it’s one thing to impact a person
and quite another to
EXPERIENCE THE INFLUENCE. . .
Strive to do both. . .
A Guest Lecturer
showed me it could be done
and in the process,
uncovered an UN-TRUTH:
WHEN YOU HELP ANOTHER, YOU HELP YOURSELF
L I E !
When you help another,
You help even many more than
T H A T O T H E R;
with all of the RIPPLES and WAVES their Shores touch;
And all the Waves and Ripples of Shores
EMANATING FROM YOUR’S. . .
It’s an never-ending TSUNAMI
of Unbelievable Kindness. . .
G E T S O A K E D
It’s really not about perspective. . .
It’s all merely about
Y O U R
P E R S P E C T I V E
. . .and then again it’s not about your
p e r s p e c t i v e
it’s all about your
s h a r e d
p e r s p e c t i v e
and then again,
it’s not about your shared
p e r s p e c t i v e,
it’s about your received
p e r s p e c t i v e,
and then again
it’s not about your received
p e r c e p t i o n,
it’s about your perceived
p e r s p e c t i v e,
and then again
it’s not about your perceived
p e r c e p t i o n
it’s just about. . .
well. . .
p e r c e p t i o n —
(y o u r s)
and. . .
just what is
i t ?