What we have before us is the Biggest Time Out of our lifetimes! “The Great Reset” the coronavirus provides is an opportunity to look deeper into the systems that have gotten us into this mess.
I’ve often seen in my visioning for art and commentary that all communities across the country and the world are like links in a chain, which at some point in time might have to stand apart as single links in a 10 to 20 mile radius. The ideas of re-localizing food supplies and finding ways to travel and provide necessary energy without furthering the financial advantage and power of corporations and the environmentally destructive nature of fossil fuels has been a goal of “sustainability” folks for decades. However fascination with technology, addiction to luxury and convenience, the selling of an overly abundant lifestyle by corporations, media and corrupt leadership have diverted attention, dismantled our safety nets and blocked the way to implementing common sense solutions.
Around 2014 I started substituting the word “sustainablity” with a better descriptor for our times – “Survivability”. Prior to that the grassroots community members in our region attempted in level-headed ways to draw attention to the County Disaster Preparedness manuals. There is lots of info on what to do in fire, flood or earthquake events, but nothing about the ever-growing threats of our dependence on the grid to deliver energy, our dependence on fossil fuel to bring almost everything we need by truck, ship or plane, and nothing about how vulnerable we have become as the world gets smaller and more populated or how the global economy has eroded the stakeholder status of many people close to home.
It’s too bad that the paths diverged from solutions known to be sustainable into the controversy of climate change. Climate change and all the resulting arguments over the past 40 years has provided a foil, an excuse and a diversion from the path of solutions. It let us talk or not talk, while we ignored the mounting dangers. All the things we have in common stand out in bold relief during a pandemic. With shock people wake up to the reality that we are very vulnerable due to our over-dependence on so many distant and now uncontrollable factors.
Toastmasters has been a learning experience for me to see my flaws and how over-focus on climate from the left has incited anger from the right. Now coronavirus shows us just how much we are in this together and how we can open our eyes, hearts and minds to do what’s necessary and right for all of us. My friends who follow astrology say that this is the time when all things not sustainable and all things not aligned with divine presence will fall apart. Maybe that is always true . . . . what has worked for the past century and the beginning of this one was allowed only by grace and momentum and now we must find a better path forward.
I’ve been absent lately from Toastmasters; even prior to this “shutdown” my time was taken in creating a fundraiser to allow implementation of regenerative agriculture projects in our valley. This is a path that has been made available by nature to solve many of our problems.
Another path that is getting recognition is the tried and true message from the 1960s – “Live Simply So Others May Simply Live”. We see now how easy it can be to reduce consumption by 30% across the board. This and restoring our respect for the Rights of Nature can go a long way to solving problems.
By distancing I also see that a great deal of what is deemed “important” is unnecessary. I am witnessing how the current limitations on “doing” and “acquiring” are literally clearing the water and air. An interest in “being” is emerging with time to explore some deeper questions. When this tailspin ends, attention can be given to reclaiming our regional successes, inventing systems that support all citizens, and committing to local life-enhancing practices to avert future threats.
To make good use of the Great Re-Set patience and compassion for ourselves, everyone here and across the planet is needed. Just like the Zero Waste work we’re doing, we must temper the changes and realize we can’t go from 100 miles an hour to Zero in one minute. Now that the brakes are on and as we slow down, let’s look for the best roads forward, and not at the past detours and disagreements that have landed us where we are today.
March 19, 2020