Coronavirus is teaching us a lot about resilience, and at the same time showing us the fragility of many of the systems we currently depend on.
We are seeing the remarkable resilience of our communities in doing what we need to do to limit the spread of coronavirus. We are seeing the resilience of healthcare professionals and those on the front lines in these times of great need.
Many collaborative efforts including mutual aid networks, food distribution, and childcare support have formed around addressing the immediate issues and needs within our communities.
We are experiencing the great fragility of our economic system, of our healthcare system, and of our collective preparation for pandemics such as COVID-19.
With large sectors of society shutting down in an effort to “flatten the curve”, many people are wondering how they will pay their rent, mortgage payments, loans, debts, and medical bills at the end of the month.
Most independent contractors, small business owners, musicians, artists, gig workers, and other non-employee-status workers currently do not have protections against income loss as a result of the shutdown and are suffering the financial consequences.
Meanwhile the Federal Reserve just injected $1.5 Trillion of short term-loans and securities into the Financial System to “address highly unusual disruptions in Treasury financing markets associated with the coronavirus outbreak”. Whether that money reaches those who are most affected by the crisis remains to be seen.
UPDATE 3/27: The Federal Reserve will put an additional $1,000,000,000,000 out in loans to the banking system per day until at least the end of the month.
Italy has announced it will suspend all mortgage payments while people stay home from work. US House Democrats introduced a bill, but it’s being criticized as only offering protection for roughly 20% of workers.
We are learning that people not working jobs for just a few days can crash the whole system. In other words, our economic system is entirely dependent on continued labor. Not resilient!
Panic buys seem to have led to more panic buys as many people now have enough toilet paper to wipe their asses for months, and perhaps enough canned beans to help humans rival animal agricultural methane emissions for the next 8 weeks.
While we haven’t seen major food shortages at this point, stock at various grocery stores has struggled to keep up with the demand and has seemed to contribute to overall anxiety levels. I’ve personally had a hell of a time finding hand soap, other cleaning products, or dried beans as we all begin to hunker down for the next couple weeks.
If we think this is bad, let’s see what happens should we continue to push our planetary and ecosystem boundaries to the brink of collapse. We will recover from COVID, but if we don’t learn the lessons that it is teaching us in this moment and we prop up these same structures of production and extraction that are driving climate change and destruction of that which supports life, we are in for a rough road ahead. Or our planet will then reject us and hopefully there will be lessons learned for the next “intelligent” species 6 Billion years from now.
John Dennis Liu, filmmaker, researcher and co-founder of Ecosystem Restoration Camps says:
“If we say that money comes from ecological function instead from extraction, manufacturing buying and selling, then we have a system in which all human efforts go toward restoring, protecting and preserving ecological function. That is what we need to mitigate and adapt to climate change, to ensure food security, to ensure that human civilizations survive. Our monetary system must reflect reality. We could have growth, not from stuff, but growth from more functionality. If we do that and we value that higher than things, we will survive.”
How does health of our economic system relate to ecological health, clean water, clean air, and healthy soil? One might argue that the reason for the peril we are in is at least in part because our economic system is not reflective of planetary health, and perhaps we are seeing the effects of an economy that is built on extraction and degradation of natural resources.
There are lots of questions that remain to be answered and lots of envisioning towards how we can move towards healthy economies, infrastructure, and community structures. There is a lot of envisioning to be done regarding the world we want to create and live in. Thank you for taking the time to read this and consider. If you have thoughts, please add them in the comments 🙂
Finally, to everyone who’s staying home right now and keeping community spread to a minimum right now while health facilities are impacted with the initial wave of sick people coming in: please give yourselves a little back pat there…it’s not easy to social distance and we are, as resilient social creatures, finding ways to connect and create in these trying times.
Much gratitude also to the healthcare workers and everyone out there on the front lines who are making a great sacrifice to treat patients, deliver home care and supplies, childcare, and continue to provide essential services for our communities.
I’d like to end with a poem by Kristin Flyntz that I just saw on my Facebook feed that I thought gets at the heart of what I’m trying to share here:
An Imagined Letter from Covid-19 to Humans
Stop. Just stop.
It is no longer a request. It is a mandate.
We will help you.
We will bring the supersonic, high speed merry-go-round to a halt
We will stop
the frenetic, furied rush of illusions and “obligations” that keep you from hearing our
single and shared beating heart,
the way we breathe together, in unison.
Our obligation is to each other,
As it has always been, even if, even though, you have forgotten.
We will interrupt this broadcast, the endless cacophonous broadcast of divisions and distractions,
to bring you this long-breaking news:
We are not well.
None of us; all of us are suffering.
Last year, the firestorms that scorched the lungs of the earth
did not give you pause.
Nor the typhoons in Africa,China, Japan.
Nor the fevered climates in Japan and India.
You have not been listening.
It is hard to listen when you are so busy all the time, hustling to uphold the comforts and conveniences that scaffold your lives.
But the foundation is giving way,
buckling under the weight of your needs and desires.
We will help you.
We will bring the firestorms to your body
We will bring the fever to your body
We will bring the burning, searing, and flooding to your lungs
that you might hear:
We are not well.
Despite what you might think or feel, we are not the enemy.
We are Messenger. We are Ally. We are a balancing force.
We are asking you:
To stop, to be still, to listen;
To move beyond your individual concerns and consider the concerns of all;
To be with your ignorance, to find your humility, to relinquish your thinking minds and travel deep into the mind of the heart;
To look up into the sky, streaked with fewer planes, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, smoky, smoggy, rainy? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy?
To look at a tree, and see it, to notice its condition: how does its health contribute to the health of the sky, to the air you need to be healthy?
To visit a river, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, clean, murky, polluted? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy? How does its health contribute to the health of the tree, who contributes to the health of the sky, so that you may also be healthy?
Many are afraid now.
Do not demonize your fear, and also, do not let it rule you. Instead, let it speak to you—in your stillness,
listen for its wisdom.
What might it be telling you about what is at work, at issue, at risk, beyond the threats of personal inconvenience and illness?
As the health of a tree, a river, the sky tells you about quality of your own health, what might the quality of your health tell you about the health of the rivers, the trees, the sky, and all of us who share this planet with you?
Notice if you are resisting.
Notice what you are resisting.
Stop. Just stop.
Ask us what we might teach you about illness and healing, about what might be required so that all may be well.
We will help you, if you listen.