Useful Lessons from the Coronavirus Crisis

1. People are discovering that we really are one planet. Even prohibitions on “foreign” travel have mostly been too late to prevent transnational contagion. This is true even when human travel is the carrier; can we translate that knowledge to even stronger cases, like the unity of our dangerously and recklessly overheated atmosphere and oceans affecting the whole planet?

 2. Governments, businesses, and families CAN move swiftly for profound change when sufficiently motivated. We also note that many of them, at first respond antidemocratically, with silence and lies (China, Iran, USA). When disaster becomes unavoidable and they fear their own power may be shaken, they respond.

 3. Though the first motive for change was fear, many people are reporting that responses are filled with love and a desire to strengthen community even as “distancing” strains it.

 4. Protection for the most vulnerable (How do the homeless “self- isolate” in their homes? How do hourly-paid workers choose to stay home if they have no paid sick leave and no health insurance?) has become a political issue but not yet a political given. (Witness the Senate’s delay on even a half-step emergency relief bill passed by the House and OK’d by the President.)

 For me, these lessons encourage my sense that we CAN respond to the Climate Crisis by bringing about a transformation out of the carbon/ fossil fuel economy. For example:

  •  More effort to fill our activism itself with love, celebration, and community.
  • More engagement by the religious communities, especially as we approach Passover and Holy Week.
  • New forms of interconnection, like solar co-ops and change-insistent groups that celebrate together (on-line and in person).
  • Increasing our direct challenge to governments that they will lose power if they don’t respond to the Climate Plagues as vigorously as they have to the Coronavirus Plague.

 I welcome you to write me directly at Awaskow@theshalomcenter.org with other “useful lessons” you are willing to share.

 Meanwhile, there remains our obligation to end the Senate’s cruelty in delaying any action on the House emergency relief bill. I will be writing you separately about that.

 Thanks and shalom, salaam, paz, peace --  Arthur

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