• Kasey Schelling


Today, I stared at a tiny seedling as it emerged after a late spring snowstorm, and it is the most beautiful thing that I have seen all day. There were so many natural forces that were working against the continued livelihood of this seed. Yet, throughout the difficult freeze in the late spring, it persevered, and now reaches upward towards the sunshine under the melting snow. It is a stunning example of Resilience.

In this time, we are truly seeing the massive change that our species is capable of collectively creating. If someone would have told me two months ago that flights across the world would be canceled, stores and restaurants would all close, millions of people would lose their jobs, and we would all be tucked away in our houses- there’s no way I would have believed them.

Yet here we are, many weeks deep into a quarantine that we do not know how long will last and what the true impact could be. On one hand, it feels terrifying. How many people are locked behind closed doors and suffering from domestic violence right now? How will families make ends meet in weeks to come? Are our medical systems on the verge of collapsing? How will we all feed ourselves?

Yet on the other hand, miracles are happening. In some of the world’s largest cities, air pollution has dropped by around 50%. People in New Dehli are finally able to see a clear blue sky, which they reportedly hadn’t seen for decades. Swans and dolphins have returned to a shockingly clear canal in Venice. Local, small-scale farmers are driving through neighborhoods to deliver fresh, healthy food to the people. People all over the world are staying at home and surrendering their personal freedom and economic stability for a common cause.

I don’t mean to sound cynical, but I didn’t think we were capable of this. We have known for a long time that the systems by which our society functions are incongruent with the laws of nature, marching us straight towards a future without clean water, topsoil for growing food, or clean air to breathe. Yet we have continued... because that’s what we know how to do. We carry forth in a survival dance that temporarily puts food on the table (for some) and a roof over our heads (for some). Yet in the process, we have left a mess behind us that we do not know how to clean up.

Throughout the past few years, we have been seeing the effects of our precarious system: the burning of the Amazon Rainforest, bee colony collapse, Arctic melting, oil spills, and a constant slew of natural disasters all over the world. Yet until the COVID-19 outbreak, we have not been able to organize on a global level to just STOP and reevaluate our actions.

And here we are, in this nerve-racking pause, that was perhaps initiated by something so tiny that we cannot even see: a virus. The spread of this virus, regardless of being microscopic, has shown us that we are capable of stepping on the brakes. It has shown us just how connected we are, how quickly our actions affect others all the way across the globe, and if it’s in the name of preventing the spread of a pandemic- we CAN manifest radical social change.

So now that we are here, simmering in this time of global disarray, taking a break from “business as usual”, I invite us all to wonder: if we can manifest such a deep level of change due to a virus, are we capable of doing it for other reasons as well? Once this pandemic has passed, can we implement changes in our personal lives (and collectively) that give us hope for a healthy, resilient future?

As the fabric of our society unravels before our eyes, this is an opportunity for us to get back to the drawing board and envision a new way of life.

This is not an attempt to find a “solution” or an answer to our challenges, nor is it an invitation for a political debate. This, friends, is nothing more than a question that I have to ask you:

“What gives you hope right now?”

As we discover how quickly a virus can travel across the Earth and change the course of humanity, we want to see if our hope is capable of doing the same. Let’s see if we can plant and water seeds of hope that are capable of withstanding even the strongest of storms. With that, we invite you to participate in #hopegoneviral.

How to participate:

Step One: Create a piece of artwork (painting, drawing, song, dance, poem, etc) that represents what you are hopeful for, and a message to go along with it.

Step Two: Share it on social media with the hashtag #hopegoneviral and tag @thekivacenter on your post. Challenge five of your friends to participate be tagging them in your post and asking them to spread hope with you by tagging five more people.

Let's see how far our hope will spread!

Here's an example from one of our talented and compassionate students:

She hopes, "that we can still grow out of our mistakes."

Inspiringly profound huh? Do you get it?

With love,

Kasey and Garrett

The Kiva Center