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The Fourth Crisis

[Listen to me read this reflection here if you prefer audio]

We live in an ocean of crises, each one building on the last, creating a bigger impact changing the world that once was.

It took 3 months for the first one million and 8 days for the next million. This is not about new users for some hot social media app, but infections from the health crisis. The global waves continue and are growing in size, at a time when we are running faster into the ocean. The first crisis.

In the fall, government relief cheques, delayed mortgage payments, eviction bans and savings accounts will dry up for hundreds of millions of people. The economic crisis may have left tens of millions unemployed in its first wave but its second wave may have an even bigger hit. The second crisis.

The social crisis has started with a wave of attention on the anti-Black discrimination that exists in our systems. However, discrimination exists everywhere we look. Expect continuous waves of protest and shaming of our systems that privilege the few, over the many. The third crisis.

A fourth crisis is beginning to emerge. It is a result of the cumulative intensity from the health crisis, the economic crisis and the social crisis. It is a result of taking a moment to pause and reflect on how much change has hit us, in such a short period of time. It is a result of searching for sources of inspiration for a safe and sound path forward.

The fourth crisis is one of trust.

Trust is the result of a firm belief in the reliability, truth or strength of someone or something.

Trust is a glue that holds our life together. When I open my laptop, I trust that the internet will work. When I set up a meeting with a client, I trust that they will show up. When I turn the stove off, I trust that it is off. When I fill up gas in a car, I trust that gas coming out of the pump. When I put money into my bank account, I trust that it will still be there the next day.

To navigate the intensity of change that we are faced with now, individually and collectively, we are required to place our trust in someone or something. This could be a belief, an institution, a leader, a teacher or even an idea.

While our B.C. (Before Coronavirus) economic, government, education, healthcare and justice systems continue to do the best that they can do to serve us, many were simply not designed to thrive, or even survive, in the face of the intensity of change in front of us. Furthermore, we can’t help but question if these systems are the solutions we need or were they complicit in creating many of the problems.

How might we prevent this fourth crisis, one of trust, from hitting us harder than the already big crises rocking our world?

Trust in government. The top five countries with the most number of Coronavirus cases are the US, Brazil, Russia, India and the UK. They collectively make up the majority of all global cases. All five of these countries have common leadership in government who have put their populations on an unnecessarily fatal path. If we do not trust the people who lead our governments, we need to change them or change the influence that they have.

Trust in global institutions. The United Nations was founded 75 years ago after WWII. Its primary purpose, rarely said, was to prevent WWIII. It has done that, despite many smaller wars still impacting millions. Most battles today are civil, in that they are within the confines of a country for which the U.N. was not designed to solve. More support, not less, for current and new global health and economic institutions is what is needed.

Trust in leadership. Our organizations and corporations, be it healthcare, education, justice or business, are the rescue boats that can save us as we drift in this ocean of crises. They have an ability to impact our day-to-day safety, security and stability. The qualities that build trust in leadership include integrity, initiative, consistency, transparency, accountability and most of all, action.

Trust in each other. As many of us step out of lockdown and step into a changed world, we are placing an incredible amount of trust in one another. Similar to how when I drive a car, I trust that you will stay in your lane and that you will stop at a red light, I now trust that you will wear a mask, respect my right to physical distance and limit the spread of a highly infectious virus.

Trust in our community. Family and friends, some in lockdown who we get to see nearly every moment of every day, and some who we see only through the screen, have continued to be there for us, and us for them. The intensity of change facing the world has led to many of us feeling anxious, confused, fearful or depressed. This is why trust in our community of family and friends is the antidote to help keep us emotionally healthy and well.

Trust in ourselves. The ocean of crises has been a wake-up call, not only for the world but for our world. The space afforded during lockdown, to many of us who are not on the front lines in essential services, is a rare and possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Now is the moment to reflect on what it is that we truly value and believe in.

Placing trust in our government, global institutions, leadership, each other and our community may be the relatively easier part of navigating this fourth crisis. Learning how to place trust in ourselves, in our values and beliefs, especially when they are different from what we think may be accepted or encouraged, is the difficult part.

Trust is built over time but accelerated in moments of need.

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