We have some ideas about how to manage the coronavirus. We know that if we ask people to shelter in place—for a while—we can avoid overwhelming the local hospitals. Once we are past the initial surge of cases, we can begin limited reopening of our “common” areas. (Businesses, restaurants, parks, and more.)
I see differing opinions on what happens when we start to reopen our common areas. What happens if we have another surge? What if the surge is limited to nursing homes and older-people facilities? What if the surge sweeps through schools?
And, how long can we ask people to work “full time,” teach their children “full time,” and live in their houses full time?
Our current lives are not sustainable. We have too many pressures, pulling us against each other.
And, because the virus doesn’t care who it infects, I’ve been thinking about the common good.
Common good is the idea that we work for the benefit of society as a whole, not our individual private good. For example, I live in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The idea is that we work for the betterment of all residents of the state. We are not better or worse than any other state—I’m not claiming that. I claim that because we have the word “Commonwealth” in our name, we might think a little more about how to optimize for our whole, not our individual parts.
We can already see the results of this “common good” thinking. Several eastern state governors are collaborating on how and when to open our common areas back up. So have some western states. (I’m not aware of any European countries doing this, but I might not know.) These governors are not playing zero-sum games—they are playing the common good game.
They have a growth mindset.
Move to a Growth Mindset
The more we collaborate “up,” for the common good, the less we play zero-sum games. When we play zero-sum games we have one and only one winner. Everyone else loses. Zero-sum games often arise from a scarcity mindset.
So, my questions for how we can act for the common good:
- We might ask How Many Options Can You Hold at One Time? to see many possibilities.
- Can we create short, small experiments and learn from them? Given the virus’s contagion patterns, we already have a two-week delay built into the system which means we might not easily detangle which action causes which result.
- We might check to see if our fear is limiting our options.
When we use the growth mindset, we might see what we can do for the common good.
- What do we need to practice to obtain feedback? I say it’s generating more options with experiments.
- What skills do we need? We need to move from protecting hospitals from the surge to protecting people so we can leave our homes.
- Where else can we learn from others? Gather and learn from the data other states and countries have generated.
I wish I had answers. I still have more questions. And, when we create questions for the common good, we might generate more interim experiments, which offer data. The data might prompt us for more questions and experiments.
Dear adaptable readers, that’s the question this week: Can we choose for the common good?
- Three Secrets for Making “The Game” Possible
- How Do We Decide for Each Other?