Saturday, April 18, 2020

Learn Me Something Good

What will we learn during this shared time of trouble?

You can take this question whichever way you want.  You can look at it from your own personal point of view, or the point of view of the people you relate to most.  Or, you can take it as a question for all of us to answer as we are thinking about how ALL of us move forward.

The nice thing about this is it can be a useful exercise no matter how you frame the question.
ok, you got our attention.  Get this over with so we can nap.

Will we learn that there are a whole host of things we, as individuals don't need so much of?
Suddenly it is not so easy and convenient to get more 'stuff.'  What sorts of things are you 'doing without' during the pandemic and finding - if you think about it - that maybe these things weren't such a big thing for you after all?  I am guessing there are several things you haven't missed at all, except for perhaps the fact that it was a part of routine.  There are other things you have missed, but you might be realizing you put too much importance on them.

For example, Tammy and I tended to take a trip into town every morning to fill up our mugs at the convenience store.  It was a ritual that we used to 'reset' our day after chores were done.  We really didn't need to spend that chunk of time driving to town, nor did we really need those drinks.  For that matter, we often added a donut to the list - also not the best choice.  But, that happened often on days when the chores had longer bits to do and we had not taken the time to feed ourselves.  Even though all of the animals were fed and plants were watered, we had not yet cared for the humans.  Well, that ritual has been halted... and perhaps we don't need to re-institute it if the time comes that it is possible to do so.

Perhaps I can change the question to: What sort of things are you finding to be MORE important?
As farmers that raise poultry and grow vegetables, we do have a bit more access to food than some.  But, this time of year, there isn't much new product coming in.  What we are finding is that we are taking even more time to make sure to use and enjoy that which we have stored in our freezers, etc.

We are, of course, finding internet access to be even more important to us than it ever was (with both of us working from/at home now).  We're appreciating our books and music more (if that's possible) and our ability to be outside.  How about you?

Will we learn how important it is to take care of our environment?
Fewer people on the roads.  Less activity in factories.  And what do we see in places like Los Angeles?  Blue sky?  Is that even possible?  NASA even put out a neat graphic showing how much lower air pollution levels are in the northeast region of the US right now.

The lesson here is for those who might not allow themselves to believe that we, the human population, have very real impacts on our environment.  And, we, the human population, actually have the power to do something about it.

Will we learn what it means to live in the 'commons' or are we still too unaware of our impact on others?
The 'commons' is simply a way to refer to that which is shared by all in a community.  The environment is part of the commons.  Our infrastructure, education, emergency services, postal services/communications, medical services, mental health services, sanitation services and food production and delivery services are all part of the commons.  I am sure I am missing some things and I don't pretend to make an all-inclusive list.  I just want to make the point.

We are getting a lesson of the important parts of the commons in this world.  Will we take this lesson and find ways to value these things?  Will we value them enough not to abuse them?   

Will we learn that humanity has a problem with priorities and move to fix that?
Our biggest problem is recognizing when we have enough - in my opinion.  I have that problem.  You have that problem.  We all have that problem.  Some people exhibit it more than others.  And we all exhibit it in different ways.  There are many individuals that have far too much and so many more that do not have enough.

Explain to me again why, if I need ten rolls of toilet paper, it is better if I buy fifty?  Explain to me once more why an offer of $5 million a year is insulting and you should get $5.2 million?  Convince me that it is okay if one person can institute a rule that workers earning minimum wage will be terminated if they are unlucky enough to become ill - meanwhile the person who made the rule is away from the business at their third home in the Caymans?

Will we learn that we shouldn't wait for things to 'go back to normal' before we start applying the lessons we think we have learned? 
What we need to do, right now, is recognize that 'normal' is not good enough.
What we need to do, right now, is identify how we can be better.

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