COVID has given us much fear and suffering. It has also given us much space and time. And with space and time comes connection. And with connection comes action. Black Lives Matter sprang up bolder and bigger and more fierce than ever before during this tragic springtime, because people had time to witness a terrible murder and really protest this foul act in huge numbers. The COVID pandemic enabled black and white people to forget about their jobs or even their loss of their jobs and take to the streets in droves. Did it help us to be better people in the long run? In many places, “Yes.” More white people began to truly understand that the legacy of slavery wasn’t over and that laws, and violence and monuments need to be removed before we go any further.
Then as COVID continued to grow, people began to look at their lives and the lives of their community more closely. Neighbors began to look out for each other, shop for each other, cook for each other. Neighborhoods became important again. Home became important again. Yes! There is probably now in this period of Shelter in Place more love-making, more poetry writing, more thought exchange, more essay publications, than there have been in years.
And with it all, many of us are looking ahead and saying – Look what we’ve done to our beloved Earth! Oil and Plastic and Trash and Pollution of every kind are ruining so many places and so many people we cherish. We have continued to ignore the road not taken, the love not shared and the care not offered to our planet and the people suffering in it. For years we have worshiped entertainment above every occupation. Our children and young people were no longer outside playing. They were in their rooms set with their faces on their phones. Unhappy, angry adults worn out from their serf-like jobs were doing the same.
But now with this disease we are in a place of slowed or, even stopped, time. We have hours we had lost before. Take a look friends. Take advice from the ancients. While you are idle you can make your life an idyll – a place of extreme calm and happiness. Build gardens, get away from your car, get a bike, a scooter. Walk to your neighbor with a pie and a pitcher of lemonade; make your own food. Listen to the quiet. Think. Dream.
And when the time comes to WORK — choose work that serves you and the world. Look up greenjobs.net. People are cleaning up water, changing trash into sneakers, saving forests all over the world. Right here in our own hemisphere there’s a Conservation Job Board in practically every County. Get in touch. They need technical people and they also need publicists and artists and educators. Look them up. Call your local County Supervisor. Get going.
Want to travel and get some innovative training? Check out Charity: Water http://charitywater.org which brings “clean and safe water to people in developing countries.” In Africa, South America, Asia — projects are waiting for you. Go! Help the world get better. Like the English language too much? The Northwest Renewable Energy Institute in Canada will train you to do good works and find a job for you, too. Wind Turbines, Landscape Architecture, bringing back fish and streams and butterflies in clean air. Search https://www.greenjobs.co.uk/ — they are working across the world and their projects are wonderful.
Modern America has taught us a kind of individualism that is unreal and destructive and has caused more psychological collapses and diseases than we can count. This pandemic can teach us what we have forgotten. That there is not much we can accomplish alone. But there is much we can do together.