We are at a turning point. Right now in this moment. Many things are shifting and the choices we make now will affect the future direction of our species. Racism, capitalism, education, the economy, government, policing, healthcare, housing, climate change are all in the news and under frequent discussion by the populous. Each one important, and none of which we can avoid dealing with because they are so interrelated. If we skip any one of them, we’ll fail on all of them.
The turning point most present for me this week is Covid. My group became eligible for vaccination, so I went and got my first jab. On the whole, vaccines are rolling out much faster than I expected. And that is nothing short of amazing. At the beginning of this year I was certain I would not be vaccinated until autumn (if I was lucky). So driving for three hours and having a ridiculously sore arm feels like a gift. It is certainly a worth-while investment in inoculation against Covid.
Unfortunately, one of the reasons eligibility has been accelerated is because there are also millions of people refusing to get their jab or feeling hesitant about getting it for a myriad of reasons. So even though my family and friends will be vaccinated, are we going to achieve heard immunity? Are enough able-bodied citizens going to buck-up and do it so the medically compromised among us can, you know, be safely among us? I'm not sure.
One definite possibility is the more people get vaccinated, the more comfortable others will be getting their dose too. The more businesses and public spaces that require vaccination (or medical exemption) as a condition of in-person participation, the more incentivized people will be to get their jab. Eventually enough people come around, we all get heard immunity, and we can move on with our lives in closer physical proximity.
Another equally possible option is that we end up instead with two separate American societies: the vaxed and the notvaxed. Where some public places require vaccines, so that is where the vaxed go. While the notvaxed gather in places without that requirement or monitoring. And both feel self-righteous about their decisions, thus creating in the real world the separate eco-chambers that currently exist online.
I'm really hoping for the former, but I can't discount the later because it could happen. In fact, it feels like ignoring the possibility might mean I'm not paying attention if that reality starts to take shape around me. I definitely don't want to wake up one day in yet another flavor of separated society when it's too late to stop the momentum.
And that's only considering what we're doing here inside this country. We've already got a major global divide between those countries who can obtain sufficient quantity of vaccines for their populous and those who cannot. That's a problem we'll all have to address because as experts keep reminding us: while Covid continues to exist anywhere, it remains a threat everywhere. Just like climate change.
There is no such reality where Brazil is overwhelmed by the pandemic and I feel safe from those more infectious and more deadly variants here. That's not how pandemics work. There is also no such reality where the climate collapses on part of the world and other parts of the world are isolated from the fallout. That's not how the planet works.
We're already experiencing the effects of some climate change. I have watched and felt the seasons shift over my lifetime. So I feel like I have to plan for a future of global climate collapse, where I need to know how to farm or otherwise live off the land - not quite knowing what state the land might be in at that time. And I am simultaneously planning for a future that could exist if we get our collective act together, with a stable climate, where retirement planning would be relevant in whatever economic system exists.
It is entirely possible that people and governments will insist on massive societal changes to fully address climate change. It is also possible that industry will make the drastic adjustments necessary to prolong human existence on this planet. And it is certainly possible that while we’re reshaping the entire global economy to address climate issues, we will reshape it into something that takes care of all people everywhere instead of favoring those who start out with wealth.
I don’t think it’s likely, but it is definitely possible.
It is equally possible that world leaders will continue to place a higher value on their egos than on the lives of their constituents. Also equally possible that many of the folks currently in-power will favor maintaining the status quo which currently benefits them over a new and more equitable system, even though greater equity will also benefit them.
It is highly possible the folks at the top of our current systems will not want to go through the challenging and often painful process of introspection and come to terms with how much hurt their participation in the current system has caused others. It is totally possible those folks will not want to participate in the truth part of any truth and reconciliation process. I suppose it is also possible they will not want to participate in the reconciliation part either.
As it is today, it could go either way. I can see quite clearly that neither outcome is yet a forgone conclusion. Scientists say we still have 9 years to fix our relationship with greenhouse gas emissions before it’s definitely too late. Science is amazing. They are constantly coming up with fantastic resolutions to the problems we cause ourselves. Can we do what science shows us we must do to survive? Given what a challenge it is to get people to wear masks in public, I'm just not sure.
So here we are. Caught between two very different and mutually exclusive possibilities and unable - as individuals - to do anything about it alone. It will take all of us to avoid certain doom from the pandemic and climate change and everything else. And it will take all of us getting more in touch with our own humanity to do it. Otherwise how are we to see and appreciate the humanity of the suffering masses we dismiss today?
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Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.