I really enjoyed creating my constraint map, because it allowed me to sit for a moment and really consider the range of problems that our world is facing right now. While exposing the frailty of humankind, it is also exposing the frailty of the systems in which we trust. I don’t mean to say that Covid-19 isn’t a powerful virus – it absolutely is- but one virus is all that it takes to jeopardize our world order.
By systems I mean both personal and organizational. For example, in my map I broke up the constraints into ones that are caused by our need to be quarantined and others that are caused by the limited services and goods that are available. Part of my map focused on the constraints that the mass quarantine has on individuals, which includes feeling bored, feeling isolated, feeling a lack of purpose and feeling unmotivated. It seems to me that we rely so heavily on routine and outside sources for our peace of mind, and when they are taken away, our mental health is suddenly jeopardized. For organizational systems, it seems even more obvious the ways in which they are failing, such as hospitals not having enough beds, doctors, ventilators, etcetera to appropriately care for all patients or that our entire economy collapsed.
But even though there are a lot of constraints, many major ones, that are causing turmoil in our lives, it was also not too hard for me to consider the opportunities that may arise from this crisis. By being pulled out of our normal daily routines, many people have been privileged enough to reflect on their lifestyles like they have never done before. With newfound time at home and some responsibilities dissolved, people are able to spend more time with family, relax even if it is uncomfortable and reevaluate what is important in their lives. I think many people are also undergoing a confrontation with their fear of the virus, resulting in modesty and compassion. Hopefully these values will not be forgotten after the crisis, and we might be able to see a mass cultural shift.
When looking into historical events that parallel what is happening today, I came upon the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. Similarly to the Coronavirus, the 1918 Flu was an international pandemic that took millions of lives. In the US, about 675,000 people lost their lives, which is similar in numbers to the hundreds of thousands of Americans predicted to die from Covid-19. The 1918 Flu, however, was more than 100 years ago and life was much different. Most civilians had no understanding of the illness, unlike today where there is arguably too much information being thrown at the public, there was no certainty for a vaccine, much less a predicted timeline for one, and there was much less social precaution than there is now. I feel hopeful that we are more informed, more optimistic and more prepared.