Entering my seventy-third year on the planet, this is one of the most bizarre moments of my seventy-two years. We are holed up in our dwelling with, admittedly, enough indoor projects to carry us through 2020, which is a good thing, since we may have to avoid social contact with physical beings for quite some time. We have enough music, games, and puzzles to carry us through a Minnesota winter – or half of one – so the personal ordeal is so far less horrendous than what is going on outside these walls. Visions of apocalyptic and dystopian films dance in our heads, made worse when we tune in to 24/7 media outlets. Yet we are aware of parts of the city, country, and globe where COVID-19 is heaping life-threatening trouble on already troubled lives. We allow distractions via video technology to give us a break, whether it be on social media or cable TV, with everything from family video calls to TV series that barely skirt the boundaries of reality. Leadership in dealing with the pandemic has been primarily from individual states with governors who have taken the reins and are doing their best to match available resources with the greatest need. There is virtually nothing of value emanating from the White House, save the reluctant presentation of scientists who actually can be called experts. These are strange times, indeed.
In the midst of the worst health crisis for those in the human race currently living, there are lessons to be heeded, disguised as glimmers of light. There are reports from China that, since the draconian restrictions of movement and activity imposed by the Chinese government to stem the spread of the virus, skies have cleared from the choking pollution enough to see blue. Not only have we seen our world turn upside down within weeks, we have seen what happens when the seemingly unstoppable assault of human activity actually grinds to a halt. Nature has the capability of recovery – if given a chance; that ability is demonstrated in a multitude of small events (see “The Biggest Little Farm” for one example). Now, one of the most serious challenges in human history also gives us a chance to reset, maybe in time to head off what most assuredly will be an existential crisis for the planet, Climate Change. Suddenly the possibility of rethinking our relationship with the Earth that sustains all life seems more attainable. Suddenly the New Green Deal is sounding like a good deal. Or it should. Because, as we are living this very moment, the cost of preventing a disaster is minuscule compared to the cost of surviving it.