Note: this was originally posted in April 2020 and I am republishing it now because these sentiments hold just as true today, two years later.
I see the messages posted from people everywhere asking citizens to do what they’re told and keep each other safe. Social media posts imploring people to consider what side of history they want to be on. I like to think that each and every one of us are doing our part to protect ourselves and each other to the very best of our ability. I also fear that this is only the beginning of something greater that has the potential to keep happening over the coming years and decades unless we make some mighty upgrades to our daily choices.
We can’t undo our past, but we can evolve today and continue to do so tomorrow and the next day. My question is this: What side of the future are you going to be on? As a global population, it will require dramatic action to prevent this from happening again.
Whether we want to think about it or not, as a citizens of the developed world, we each have actively contributed to the current state of our oceans, the depletion of the Amazon rainforests as well as the forests and natural resources that touch our own cities and countries. These are the lungs of our planet, and we are destroying them. And now it’s our turn. It is the lungs of the human population that are being attacked.
We are destroying the lungs of the planet. And now it’s our turn. It is our lungs being attacked by this virus.
Through this platform, for which I have written for over a decade, I am not speaking to heads of industry and governments that continue to permit known carcinogens to be used in our hair dyes and nail polishes, home cleaning products, fill our furniture, and be sprayed on our food. Nor can I personally stop the mass imports of goods made on the cheap for our convenience. I cannot put bans on the chemicals that flood our farms, food supply, run into our rivers and impact those that live alongside these waterways and oceans.
I am talking to you. And you can speak with those who you know. We can make changes. We have to. They are not hard – certainly not remotely as challenging as the current reality we are living in.
Those at highest risk of this sickness are those with underlying conditions, heart disease and diabetes to name two. These two conditions are largely influenced and preventable with lifestyle and dietary choices. Access to healthy lifestyle essentials is limited to those who can afford them. We are seeing how this sickness can devastate populations that have had minimal impact on spreading it globally. And I cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that billions, or in some countries trillions of dollars, have been made available to support the economy in this crisis but somehow was lacking when it came to ensuring that every human on the planet had access to fresh food and clean water.
What are we doing about it? We’re now buying produce, with items individually packaged in plastic, delivered to our door in as many plastic bags as possible and feel secure in knowing that we have a hoard of disinfectant wipes to clean it all.
We think, I am safe. My family is safe.
We diligently watch the evening news, as the horror of death rates ignite our fear, while mostly waiting for the message that life can return to ‘normal’ soon. All the while, these practices we are taking on to protect us are destroying our microbiome, the root of our health defences. We experience how social distancing form chasms in our mental health, and the support for those with physical and mental challenges become harder to provide. We binge on industrial snacks and streaming video.
Long before we were asked to self-isolate, before stores were shut down (or the re-opening of the Apple stores across China was seen as progress towards safety) we were upgrading our gadgets every time there was a new release. We were supporting a disposable fashion cycle that has a new ‘season’ every four weeks. We were consuming plastic in greater and greater quantities until we find ourselves at a point where every minute the equivalent of a dump truck’s worth of plastic lands in the ocean. The glitter, the sequins, the plastic toys, the plastic clothes, the ‘cheap’ subsidized chemically grown conventional food, the instant gratification of same-day Amazon deliveries…
We created all of this. We supported it. We are not safe from it.
I vow to not be part of the fear. I will not allow the headlines and sound bites to infiltrate my consciousness, affect the energy I put out in the world, or chip away at my resilience. I will not sit around and be afraid and I implore you not to either. There is no greater harm to our health than the stresses we ruminate about in our own minds.
I am not going to sit around and wait for someone else, for something else to solve this. I want to be on the right side of today, and on the right side of the future.
Let’s feel proud of the efforts we make to protect our health and that of our family, our community and in supporting the wellbeing of people around the planet. If you have never felt it before, it’s quite obvious now – we are all connected. Every living being on the planet.
I want to feel proud of the effort I made, in my daily choices, to support the stabilization of our planet and all of us on it so that I can look my son in the eye in 10 years and 20 years’ time and have him know this.
I won’t have to tell him that it wasn’t the easiest to question the status quo, go against the paradigms and make decisions that at times could be isolating. I won’t have to tell him that we made efforts to make do with what we have, to consume less. I won’t have to tell him that we worked really hard to live a life of deep purpose, not disposable and rich only in instant gratification. I won’t have to tell him about the importance of gratitude, finding joy, the magic of nature, the power of mother earth and the universe.
I don’t want to have to tell him any of this. I want him to know it. I want him to see it in my efforts every single day of his life. I want him to witness what we have done, are doing and will continue to do to change the paradigm and create a future that is more connected, loving, stronger and healthier than the present.