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?
I struggle with when and how to speak up, especially when it comes to politics. I have a friend who practically rants about our national political situation. I agree with much of what he says, but I can only take his anger in small doses.
On my recent trip to New Zealand, many locals wanted to discuss and understand what’s going on in America. I found their interest and curiosity to be refreshing. On the other hand, my travel companions shied away from those conversations and quickly changed the subject. Are they tired of these discussions or just uncomfortable?
Good Role Models
Recently I saw a good show called “The Great American Sh*t Show: New Monologues in the Age of Trump.” Brian Copeland and Charlie Varon, who are known for their one-man shows at The Marsh theatre in San Francisco, demonstrated how to speak thoughtfully about their political beliefs. Copeland shared a story about how he needed to continue loving someone he knew well in his youth who now flabbergasts him when she shares her current beliefs.
While door-to-door campaigning before the mid-term Congressional elections, Varon searched for common ground with swing voters. In his mind, he was seething at the stupidity of people who couldn’t make a decision or take action in what he considers to be times of madness. But what he did instead was to ask others questions about why they hesitated and then patiently addressed their reasons for hesitating.
During difficult times, it feels wrong to keep quiet and do nothing. On the other hand, people I like and respect, will tune me out when I talk about current events – and this includes people who agree with me. So, I’ve toned down what I say and how often I say it. What I can do is stay informed, talk to people who like to talk about current events, and join phone banks at election time.
Some Questions for You
What do you think? Do you speak up? How?