What ADVICE Would Swiss Family Robinson Give On the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Updated: Apr 21
In the early 1800s, the Robinsons, who left Switzerland to escape the bondage of government, found themselves shipwrecked in the middle of the Indian Ocean. They eventually found refuge on a remote island, isolated from the known world. Much like the COVID-19 pandemic, the initial change created uncertainty and fear. "How would we survive? There are so many unknowns. What would the future hold?" they thought. They survived, even prospered, by learning to use the resources available to them. They used common sense, ingenuity, and faith in God. We have the same opportunity today.
As I sit in my bungalow isolated from my known external world, in a place where I wrote the novel "Return to Robinson Island," I imagine how nice it would be to remove myself (and my family) from the current chaos and go to Robinson Island. Robinson Island is a paradise few have ever seen - clean, peaceful, and thriving.
As I imagine myself on that island, my mind sinks deeper in thought. The world has been shut down (quarantined) now for about a month to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. But as I contemplate today's realities, I wonder how the Robinson's, who were wise and humble, would respond to today's pandemic. What strategies did they apply to turn their crisis into a roaring success that became the envy of the world in 1805-1817? If the Robinsons were able to get a glimpse into the year 2020, how would they respond? What advice would they give?
The Robinsons had their challenges with viruses, sickness, scurvy, and initially cabin fever. Long before the Germ Theory was discovered, Elizabeth Robinson (Mother) devised her own natural medicines and even encouraged eating diced garlic cloves three times a day. Fortunately, the Robinson's immune systems were robust and healthy. They were active, and they ate well. They would eat what they coined "God's Food." This was food that grew from the earth, the animals of the field, and the fish of the sea. For which they always gave thanks.
In the end, they trusted circumstances would turn out well. Not to say there wouldn't be bumps and bruises along the way, but they were resilient and faithful. They were "God-fearing" or better said, "God-loving" people who reached toward the heavens in search of answers for their family. They didn't ask God to take away sicknesses and challenges; rather, they believed that God would give them the insight and inspiration needed to endure the crises successfully.
So, given the Robinson's experience of radical uncertainty, what perspective and advice would they give the world in 2020 outside of availability of the safe and remote island called, Robinson Island?
FIRST, they would remind people to humble themselves and seek power from above. They prayed in faith and fasted to draw down the powers from heaven. As they read the Bible, they understood that if they, "Draw nearer unto God, God would draw nearer unto them." Their spirituality gave them much comfort and relief during times of crisis and peace.
SECOND, they would do their best to honor the suggestions from the medical professionals. For example, stay home unless it was necessary to leave. Keep the advised distance within groups. Wash your hands and cover your mouth when coughing. Mother Robinson inherently saw the value of preventing germs from spreading. At times, these changes would frustrate the family, and she would remind her children, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren (according to "Return to Robinson Island") that this was a momentary sacrifice of trading what you want for the moment for what you want long term. The family agreed. She would remind them that in a short season if they were diligent, "This too shall pass."
THIRD, the Robinsons would be mortified by today's culture of elevating mother nature over God. Indeed, they believed that the earth is a living entity with intelligence and a spirit - a blessing that was created by God. They believed that all living things are subject to God and natural law. For this reason, they strongly believed in being good stewards of the earth and environment but resisted substituting mother nature for God.
FOURTH, they would encourage cooperation. Watch five minutes of cable news; the Robinsons would be sorely disappointed. Where is civil decorum and respect for each other with differing views? They would invite politicians from all parties to stop bickering, seek a win/win, through shared principles, understanding, and values. The Robinsons would emphasize that when we are divided, it exacerbates the weak and negative aspects of all people. They would plead with politicians to cooperate and serve the greater good instead of one's political party. Besides, blaming and victimizing never served relationships, families, communities, or nations in a positive and sustaining way. Sadly, in today's culture, this is probably more ideal than practical, but why not strive for the ideal?
FIFTH, the Robinsons would encourage you (and society) to look at your world differently and take bold moves to anticipate and innovate. In times of crisis, arise opportunities for innovation. The history books are filled with stories where one door closed another door opened, leading to increased knowledge and progress. In times of crisis, necessity forced the Robinsons to innovate. On Robinson Island, innovation took on many forms like finding refuge in a cave after first being shipwrecked to later building the infamous Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse that consisted of running water using bamboo shoots. The Robinsons discovered how to make candles using the wax from Bayberry bushes. For you, at this time, innovation may include the form of using new methods of educating your children from home using the latest technology. Or a company that is having to adjust operations by working remotely. In 1997, Steve Jobs coined the slogan, "Think Different." In other words, get creative and start thinking like an entrepreneur. There is power in being adaptable.
SIXTH, the Robinsons would encourage increased love and affection toward all people. Love wins. Scripture speaks of a time when mankind will become, "Lovers of themselves." Particularly, love your family and your friends through actions of service and expression.
The Swiss Family Robinsons loved God, family, and liberty. Originally, their whole purpose for leaving Switzerland was in search of more freedom and liberties. They knew this could only be found in a limited government that gave power to the people and where hard work, ingenuity, and a respect for all people existed - and where one could freely and unapologetically worship by the dictates of their own hearts.
When the Robinsons had the option to relocate to Australia, or back home to Switzerland, or America for that matter, they opted to stay on Robinson Island. When governments sought to settle Robinson Island, they declined. They had become accustomed to being self-sufficient. In the end, they preferred freedom over captivity or comfort.
The message to you is this, cherish this time of quarantine and change. See this time as an opportunity to strengthen the relationships of those you love. Be considerate of other people when you go into public. And probably the hardest thing in today's culture, delay your judgment of people who see the world differently than you (i.e., this article). Choose to respond thoughtfully with a spirit of seeking understanding rather than mindlessly reacting.
As you find your life disrupted, remember you are in charge of your own destiny. No matter how difficult your circumstance may be or become, you always have a choice in how to respond. In his classic book, Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl points out that many of those who survived the Nazi concentration camps said that they, "Benefited from the captivity, seeing it as a growth experience." As horrendous as Auschwitz was, Frankl taught, "Our core drive as humans is our search for meaning…. The way in which a man accepts his fate, and all the suffering that it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity – even under the most difficult circumstances – to add deeper meaning to his life." Russian Novelist, short story writer, and philosopher, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, once stated, "There is only one thing I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings."
In his Ted talk, David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine Monk, made this statement on being grateful, "Does that mean we can be grateful for everything? Certainly not. We cannot be grateful for violence, for war, for oppression, for exploitation. On a personal level, we cannot be grateful for the loss of a friend, for unfaithfulness, for bereavement. I didn't say we can be grateful for everything; I said we could be grateful in every given moment."
You can be grateful for "this moment" by which you have an opportunity to choose. You can choose how to respond. You can choose what to do now. You can choose to be grateful that the COVID-19 will empower humanity to be better prepared and protected in the future. You can choose how to feel by choosing what to focus on at this moment. You have the power to choose your attitude despite times of uncertainty. What's the consequence of taking advantage of this inherent power given to every human being? The ability to choose your own "self-fulfilling prophecy," which can be your hopes, desires, and dreams. It all starts with your thoughts! Thoughts drive the law of attraction. Whatever you dwell on, you will attract and magnify in your life.
In the end, what will be said of you during this time? Were you the victim or the victor? Did you choose to bear your afflictions with a cheerful heart or blame some external force as the cause of your unhappiness? Lift your head. Square your shoulders. Be engaged in a good cause. Live with purpose. Be strong. Focus on the good in all circumstances and people. Find meaning from this experience and unleash your greatness within.
To learn more about how to Unleash Your Greatness Within visit https://www.GreatnessWithin.com or download TJ Hoisington's podcast on Apple Podcast here: https://apple.co/2V133fb TJ's mission is to share principled and inspirational content on leadership, high-performance, and happiness. Visit TJ on social media @tjhoisington TJ Hoisington is the author of both Self-Help books and historical fiction books. Read "Return to Robinson Island" or "The Swiss Family Robinson Secret Discovery" - Link: https://amzn.to/2RJX4tc