We need some McConaughey right now. It’s not normal to turn to Hollywood actors for advice during one of the toughest times in human history, but McConaughey is a different breed of wisdom.
You may not know that outside of Hollywood, he is also a professor in the media studies wing of the University of Texas in Austin. Then there’s his voice. Matthew McConaughey’s voice could read an audiobook on repeat and I’d never get tired of it.
His voice is calming. His voice sounds like Seneca’s might have— except he’s just an actor. He gets to act any way he wants and right now the script he’s reading from is a different one to the norm of movies full of drugs and bad guys.
There is a Green Light on the Other Side of This Red Light
Right now, we are stationary and won’t be leaving the house. We are stopped at a red light and waiting for a green light. The green light normally comes in a minute or two. Not this time.
This time we’re stopped at the red light with all four tires blown out and a shattered windshield view of the world.
“That green light is going to be built upon the values that we can enact right now. Values of fairness, kindness, accountability, resilience, respect, courage — if we practice those things right now, when we get out of this, this virus, this time, might be the one time that brings us all together and unifies us like we have not been in a long time.”
By adopting or enhancing these values, we are, in McConaughey’s words, turning a red light into a green light.
Let’s Not Go to the Lowest Common Denominator
McConaughey doesn’t want us to do the easiest thing there is: be paranoid.
Panic and fear won’t help us survive and get each other through this time. You can panic by default but to be calm requires practice during these mad times. Don’t tell people the world is screwed or get on social media and bring the whole damn house down with your words of anger and blame.
The enemy is invisible. We can’t blame nature. It would be even crazier to blame the originator, which was a bat — and not the Batman variety.
According to McConaughey, the enemy is faceless, raceless, sexless, non-denominational, and bipartisan. We want to beat it and we’re going to beat it, he says. The key is not to beat each other in the process.
We’re All More Dependant on Each Other Than We Ever Have Been
This means locking yourself up in your mansion with all the groceries you can hoard and a Bentley in the driveway is not going to help you.
The enemy is invisible and so is loneliness caused by these sorts of selfish actions. The groceries you hoard can even bring the enemy into your home via your pre-packaged goodness disguised as food.
Dependency is the glue that holds us together in this new world. For the first time, we have to depend on each other. You do your bit and we do our bit. Your bit contributes to the overall solution and so does ours.
My dad said it better than McConaughey the other day:
‘If there is one thing I know, it’s that we’re going to see a lot of camaraderie and solidarity.’
He is right. The sum of all the parts we contribute brings about peace and solace once again.
“It’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates.”
Back to McConaughey. In 2014, he hinted at the solution to this new world we’re now facing with this quote. He said gratitude reciprocates and that it is a scientific fact. Yet he didn’t cite any resources or proof. He broke the journalistic code, man!
You know why he did that? Because as part of the human species, we all know that gratitude reciprocates deep down. It was a play on words. It was a play on our human nature for us to fact-check McConaughey’s claim. Genius.
Right now you need to be grateful for what you do have. The internet, a roof over your head, food in your stomach, a family, and clean air are all humungous wins to help you fight the mental struggle caused by the invisible enemy.
Chase the Hero You Can Never Be
Right after that showstopper from McConaughey came this question he asked himself:
‘Who is your hero? It’s me in ten years.
Ten years later that same person comes to me: “So are you a hero?” Not even close. Every day, every week, every month, and every year of my life, my hero is always ten years away. I’m never going to be my hero.
It keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.’
You have the opportunity right now to act like the hero you will be in ten years. Think like them, be brave like them and use your future self’s courage.
This time will pass. When you unite with others, you’ll make it through with them and be better for it. Avoid the lowest common denominator of panic and blame, and choose unity.
Think about the calming wisdom from McConaughey during this crisis, carefully:
Turn a red light into a green light.
How can you turn this red light into a green light?
This article originally appeared on Medium.
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