Personal, National and Global Values

Since reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s May 1 online New Yorker Magazine article “The Corona Virus Is Rewriting Our Imaginations,” I’ve been thinking about how the virus is impacting personal, national and global values. 

Climate Change and the Virus

It’s abundantly clear that Climate Change has dramatically changed our lives.  We’ve known since the 1960s that the planet was in trouble.  Now we see the results of humans polluting the air and the oceans, melting the permafrost, and encroaching on animals’ habitats, making the animals sick … and now the animals are making us sick.  (One theory is that a sick bat in Africa bit a pangolin – it’s like an aardvark – and the sick pangolin was sent to a wet market in China, where it was eaten.)  Now everyone on the planet is impacted. 

We Need to Stick Together

This time, we truly are all in this together.  In the past, it was a matter of crisis by region.  In California, where I live, we’ve lost lives to fires, earthquakes, and power outages.  Other parts of the country and the world have faced droughts, floods, hurricanes and worse.  Today we’re seeing how everyone in the world is interconnected: all facing the same crisis. We used to talk about saving future generations; now we know it’s our generation that needs saving.

The Economy versus Saving Lives

We have big questions to consider: What are the rights of the individual versus the needs of society; the needs of a region versus the globe?  Do we protect “the economy” versus protecting our health and human lives?  Do we want to continue with the old “normal” or are we willing to change to save the planet? 

How our Values have Changed

My friends and I discuss how our values have changed.  We used to enjoy eating out, going shopping, and traveling.  Now we value time with friends and family more than ever.  We have a higher regard for the people who work in healthcare, grow our food, educate our children, and provide shelter and clothing. 

Can You and I Save the Planet?

Personally, I’m focused on saving our planet.  How? I can reduce my carbon footprint by driving and flying less.  I hope to convince others to do the same.   I’ve always tried to be mindful of how much I consume, how much water I use, and how I handle my trash, but I hope to do better.

Will you join me?  What will you do to help our planet?

If you have a high school reunion coming up, GO.  If it’s your 50th reunion, don’t hesitate.  The 50th reunion is probably the last reunion.  It’s sad to say, but some of your classmates won’t be alive…or won’t be able to travel in another 10 years.

I just returned from my 50th reunion at Abington High School in a suburb of Philadelphia.  When the reunion was announced, I was the first to RSVP.  I live 3000 miles from many of my high school friends, and this was a chance to see everyone at once.  With Facebook, it’s been great to catch up with so many of my classmates, but it’s not the same as face-to-face.  When seeing friends in person, the good memories come flooding back.  And, at this stage of life, the bad memories of feeling excluded (by people in some cliques) have long faded away.

The reunion was an opportunity to remember my childhood on the East Coast. I decided to make the event into an adventure by plane, train and subway.  I wanted to see the 911 museum in New York and take an in-depth look at Washington D.C.  I’m glad I did.  Even two weeks was not enough time to see the many monuments, gardens, museums and cultural events on my bucket list.

After the “high” I felt in New York city with it’s great energy, I was not let down in Philadelphia.  My high school pals have matured into relaxed, interesting, fun-loving older adults.  We picked up where we left off so many years ago.  Everyone was welcoming.

We’re at a great age.  Yes, it’s true that there was a wide variation in how well we aged.  I recognized almost everyone I used to “hang with.”  They looked energetic and fabulous.  The surprise was that some classmates are using canes and walkers.

It’s truly eye-opening to see that even as early as the sixties, if you don’t have good genes and don’t live a healthy lifestyle, your decline will already be apparent.  It’s another reminder to stay active and engage with life.  And to reinvent yourself.

 

My friend Harry was laid off from his job at the age of 64. He took some time to think about his future….and then took some more time. His savings were slim, so he said he would look for another job. I’m not sure if he looked. I do know that he spent a lot of time on his computer, going to movies by himself, and watching TV. Mostly he was alone. Then he got sick. Then his cognitive thinking declined. He was depressed and isolated. He is one of the reasons I created the “Reinvent Yourself after 50” workshop. I want to help people feel fulfilled, joyful, and passionate, whether they are working or not.

For many people the most difficult aspect of leaving the workforce is losing daily interaction with work colleagues and the people you meet when you’re at work – the coffee barista, the bus driver, the cashier at the deli. In the workshop we discuss the many benefits of social integration and how to ensure we don’t lose it. This video demonstrates why our relationships are paramount to our longevity and to having fulfilling lives.

What does it take to live for 100 years? These are the surprising predictors of a long, healthy life.

Susan Pinker at TED2017 – The secret to living longer may be your social life