As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are having weird and vivid dreams. Some of these dreams may be due to the anxiety many of us are feeling; others are due simply to the radical shifts in how we are living our everyday lives.
One of the ways, apparently, that we as individuals respond to stress and disruption is by dreaming.
We are also experiencing stress and disruption in our collective, community life. Public spaces are eerily empty. Much of the hustle of our busy lives has fallen away. We are confronted both with how connected we all are and with how some of us are more vulnerable than others.
One of the ways that we as a society together can respond to stress and disruption is by dreaming.
Langston Hughes began one of his poems with the line “I dream a world.”
We know that the “normal” that we will return to in weeks or months will not be the pre-pandemic “normal.” Arundhati Roy writes, “The pandemic is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.”
This is a time for us to dream a world based on what we are seeing and learning from this strange, new collective experience of COVID-19.
This is a time for us to dream a world based on civity.
A culture of civity is a culture of respect and empathy for people who are different.
The well-established pattern of our lives has altered abruptly and dramatically, and we are seeing people and relationships in a new way. We are seeing people who we may not have paid attention to before and noticing and naming how essential they are to the world we live in. We are seeing the inequities and inequalities that advantage some of us and leave others behind.
That’s respect – the root of the word coming from “spec,” as in spectacles, as in seeing.
At the same time, the stories that we are hearing about others in this time of the coronavirus take us out of ourselves. People who have lost family members. People who have been ill. People caring for those who are ill. People showing up for work because their work is essential. People home-schooling their kids while trying to work from home. These stories provide an abundance of experiences, and we drink them all in.
That’s empathy – reaching for someone else’s reality, even when our own reality is very different.
If we allow ourselves to dream a civity world, what might that look like?
The Civity team asked ourselves this question. Dreaming, it turns out, isn’t something we have a lot of practice with. But setting our imaginations toward “why not?” opens the door to transforming how we are with each other. We share our responses with you, and invite you to join us.
Gina: I dream a world … where we SEE and recognize each other’s humanity…and listen to and HEAR each other’s stories.
Reba: I dream a world …where awareness of our interconnectedness and the fact that we belong to each other is ordinary, rather than extraordinary.
Palma: I dream a world … where our shared touchstone is that everyone matters.
Malka: We created the word “civity” to describe the change we want to see – a culture made up of relationships based on respect and empathy, where we all belong. I dream a world … where we don’t need a separate word to describe that culture, because that is the way our culture is.
Your Name Here: __________________________ What is your civity dream? What are your civity dreams?
What are all of our civity dreams?