submitted by Ellsworth Brown
Sometimes it’s better to begin at the end, in this case with Professor Christine Whelan’s personal May 6, 2020, Pandemic Purpose Statement:
“Because I value relationships, perseverance and creativity, I will use my gifts for translating research, making connections and organization to positively impact the lives of my children, my students and the broader public. I accept my fears and anxieties about not being perfect enough, not being helpful enough and fear for the future and still today make conscious, purpose-based commitments to make a fun baked potato bar tonight, take a bike ride with the kids and check in with my students.”
During this pandemic, we all feel the push of pain (including physical, financial, stress and more), the pull of possibilities, or most likely both. This push-pull can manifest itself as either ego or “eco.” Achieving the latter is the goal because it affirms the reality that institutions and people are inherently interconnected and always in change, though more so at this time.
So how is “eco” achieved?
Whelan’s statement embodies combining an individual’s selection of three elements within each of three virtually infinite areas: core values (e.g. happiness, independence, peace) strengths or gifts; and impact (e.g. upon groups, individuals, organizations). It also requires that one accept (though perhaps not let go of) fears and anxiety and dare to go forward anyway.
A daily pandemic purpose statement can relieve pressure, contribute to better health and increase happiness. Even those at greater risk can find that accepting help is itself a gift to a helper, illustrating that the holistic practice of “eco”—purpose—is by definition pro-social.
Professor Whelan, we’re all coming over for the potato bar tonight.
Our thanks to Dr. Christine Whelan for her online presentation this week and to Ellsworth Brown for preparing this review article. If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.