I’ve long imagined a thriving society where all basic needs are easily met, one where art-making of all kinds is flourishing as people are freed from their daily worries about survival. A good hearty soup in every pot and art centers on every corner! (And yes, changes have been, and are being made in communities everywhere.¹ Mainstream media companies aren’t reporting on this; they’re still for-profit industries.)
We’re coming up on the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. The behemoth fossil fuel companies have known for decades how their extraction economy is impacting the planet. Drilling, fracking, methane-cracking to produce more plastic — none of these are necessary. The dangers weren’t made public so CEOs, board members and large shareholders could skim off as much profit as possible before the news leaked out. We may be witnessing the collapse of the fossil fuel industry right now, or at least I think so on the days when I’m feeling optimistic.
Could we harness our collective creativity, ingenuity and knowledge right now to massively alter the outdated structures that promote hoarding and greed? I’m not convinced these are built into human nature. I think they’re born of fear, and fear can be dissected, understood, and transformed. We know the biological and psychological benefits of community, of extending kindness, of gratitude, and these skills can be taught and learned.
Let’s take this as our opportunity to create new structures as the old ones crash and burn.² Let’s live closer to the ground and each other. Let’s share ideas freely instead of guarding them for the sake of profit. We can measure profit differently if we thoroughly, systemically and honestly look at all costs.
We can communicate easily while distancing physically. That wasn’t true a century ago. We don’t need to “social distance” and can in fact use this time to go the other way – to get to know one another better, to strengthen our relationships, to be kind to one another. Let’s choose creativity and thoughtfulness over anxiety and despair.
Let’s see this as a global healing crisis and not return to complacency when our fever breaks.³ Our “leaders” have failed us, but this only means that we must take greater responsibility ourselves, and I believe we can rise to the occasion.
Take care of yourselves, your family and neighbors. Plant and tend your gardens, exercise your imaginations and whatever aspects of your heart have become stiff and cranky from lack of practice. Let’s use what we have with humility and wisdom and build a healthier future now, together.“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” 4
1 Yes! Magazine, Green America
2 Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart
3 The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth KolbertYou can order these through IndieBooks or your local Independent Bookseller. Living local economies are essential to community health
4 June Jordan, used in a beautiful song by Sweet Honey in the Rock (They’ve got other fabulous music too)