In 2008, two days after my 84-year-old mother’s stroke, I was by her bedside in the hospital while she was asleep and unwakable. I had been mostly awake for most of that time and was thinking I should call family members. I reached for my red flip-phone that was lying on her bed and somehow accidentally dropped it. Unbelievably, it landed in my soda cup–I couldn’t believe of all places, it landed in my drink. What are the odds???!!!—–I could never do that again in a million years–.
I was alone in a hospital with my very fragile mother–with no phone–and no family members or friends scheduled to visit.
I stopped and paused to reflect.
How or why could this happen to my phone at a time like this? I was moved to consider some possible reasons–the most obvious one being that maybe my full attention was needed to focus on my Mom. –Some things about that time in 2008 are today kind of a blur–but somewhere right before or after the phone landed in my drink–one of her doctors told me I needed to make a decision (since she was not wakable) about whether or not they should give her Coumadin (warfarin)–a very strong blood-thinning medication to prevent future strokes. He told me it was a very serious decision because people who started it should not come off of it. First, I prayed. Then I began researching it online. After much deliberation, I told the doctor I wanted to wait until she was more stable. Soon after, she began recovering. Six weeks later, when she was walking in rehab and doing quite well, her doctor did put her on Coumadin. The Coumadin caused her to have a brain bleed and a stroke which caused her to SLEEP UNWAKABLY FOR A WEEK. She lost all of the progress she had worked so hard for in rehab. She eventually gained much of it back but the cost to her ultimate recovery was significant. More sobering however, was the realization that if I had allowed the doctor to give her Coumadin when they first wanted to–BEFORE she woke up–BEFORE they discovered and treated the urinary tract infection that she also had (that actually created conditions for the stroke) and BEFORE she qualified for rehab and regained her ability to walk–SHE MIGHT HAVE NEVER WOKEN UP. In other words, she would probably have died–instead of living 8 more years at home with me and some wonderful nursing assistants that helped me take care of her. How could I know that my Mom couldn’t tolerate Coumadin–or any strong blood thinners?
The flip phone that fell in my drink may have saved her life by forcing me to shut out distractions–It made me REALIZE that I NEEDED to shut out distractions–It gave me permission to create space to pray and FOCUS, RESEARCH, and LEARN what I needed to learn about the decisions for her care that I was faced with.
—In no way, do I want to compare the loss of a flip-phone to the loss of life, health, livelihoods, income, isolation, and emotional/physical connection that we are experiencing right now with the Corona virus.
This is 2020
2020 VISION IN THE YEAR 2020 suggests an urgent need for us to stop and focus on SEEING CLEARLY AND ACCURATELY the decisions that have been facing us as nations, as families, and as communities around the world.
–WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CARE OF EACH OTHER AND THE EARTH.–
–WE ALWAYS HAVE BEEN.
We as a society–are in need of some DEEPLY MOVING REFLECTIONS.
WE ARE KILLING THE PLANET THAT WE LIVE ON–AND UNINTENTIONALLY, EACH OTHER.
New research tells us that pollution causes new cases of mental illnesses like bipolar and schizophrenia–without any family history of these diseases. We already know that pollution causes cancers, lung diseases, asthma, and other serious illnesses from which people die and have been dying. The rates of asthma rose astronomically in the 1980s when air pollution laws were relaxed. Asthma is one of the highest killers of women.
Climate change is changing everything–including our health and our safety. Are these new diseases in part due to climate and earth changes? Numerous studies have already shown links between climate change and disease outbreaks in various obvious and more complex ways.
IRONICALLY, THE COVID-19 DISEASE THAT HAS ALREADY KILLED TOO MANY IS ALSO CREATING A WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY FOR THOSE OF US WHO ARE NOT ON THE FRONT LINES.
THIS IS OUR TIME TO REFLECT DEEPLY AND MOVINGLY ON WHAT IS HAPPENING. This disease is indeed FORCING us to stop and pause–and if we are wise–recognize our NEED to shut out distractions and movingly reflect on our responsibility to ourselves, others, wildlife, OUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN, and the earth–and the decisions ahead of us.
THIS IS OUR TIME TO THINK ABOUT HOW WE AS A SOCIETY HAVE BEEN LIVING–AND HOW WE NEED TO LIVE DIFFERENTLY SO THAT HUMANITY, ANIMALS, AND THE PLANET CAN SURVIVE!
–THIS TIME… it’s not as much about our individual decisions…
AND it’s more about how our individual decisions are limited by the choices that our institutions–ALLOW or DON’T OFFER US. In other words, what organizations and laws are LIFE GIVING and which are not? Which ARE TRANFORMATIVE AND WHICH limit us and restrict our ability to transform life for the better?
This blog is the first in a series talking about what we can change–and how. It is NOT about politics. It is not about red or blue–or who we elect. It is not about capitalism or socialism. It is about what WORKS and what does NOT WORK. WHAT IS LIFE GIVING FOR EVERYONE! WHAT MODELS ARE LIFE-GIVING FOR THE 21ST CENTURY!
THIS KIND OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC OCCURS ONCE EVERY 100 YEARS. Yet, we have been faced with multiple bizarre diseases like AIDS, Ebola, SARS, etc. in the past 30 years. We are seeing floods, droughts, fires, hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, earthquakes and more severely abnormal and unnatural disasters with massive deaths, hugely disrupted or shattered lives–and livelihoods–along with cities in the U.S. and all over the world that are not rebuilt–wildlife losses and extinctions occurring at accelerating rates all over the world–.
PEOPLE ARE HURTING! People are working full-time–or longer–without adequate incomes, people are homeless living on the streets, people are without health care, people have mental illnesses, people have debt, people have emotional trauma from abuse and violence and have not had treatment and end up filling our prisons, people are refugees from violence in other countries… There is domestic violence, child abuse, gang and gun violence, dramatic gaps between the ultra rich and EVERYONE ELSE! People have worked hard their whole lives and can’t retire, we have understaffed nursing homes, people are anxious and afraid–and there are so many more critical ways that people are harmed and suffer.
THESE ARE TWO OF THE BIGGEST QUESTIONS AND CHALLENGES THAT WE FACE AS A NATION AND AS A PLANET.
1. HOW DO WE CREATE A SOCIETY THAT ACTIVELY CARES FOR AND SUPPORTS ALL OF ITS PEOPLE?
The corona virus is showing us what it really means to care for each other. Things are changing–at least in some places–things are being done that should have been done a long time ago–because those changes were the right thing to do. I will come back to what this means in a minute.
2. HOW DO WE STOP CLIMATE CHANGE AND MINIMIZE THE DEATHS AND DESTRUCTION THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN OCCURRING BECAUSE OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND POLLUTION?
–WHILE we are sewing masks, or IN BETWEEN enjoying nature, or resting, or playing, connecting with others, enjoying hobbies, or finding ourselves again in the quiet…
We are at a CRUCIAL JUNCTURE. According to one of the scientists who was critical in helping us heal the ozone layer–WE HAVE FIVE YEARS–(and that was 6 months ago)–to make MASSIVE CHANGES to prevent climate change from spinning out of control and becoming unfixable–
For CLIMATE CHANGE–These three changes MUST HAPPEN QUICKLY:
1. SHIFT TO RENEWABLE ENERGIES AND GETTING COMPLETELY OFF OIL, GAS, COAL, AND NUCLEAR. This means updating the aging U.S. electricity grid–which has to happen anyway–AND expanding the grid to create more smaller local micro-grids–with more local solar and wind production–plus more solar roofs and installations for individual homes and businesses. These things ARE possible now with proper funding. Germany has wind power that does not need rare earth metals–so that’s a sustainable model we can choose!
2. SHIFT TO ELECTRIC VEHICLES.
3. FIND A WAY TO SHIELD THE POLAR ICE CAPS FROM THE SUN TO SLOW THEIR CATASTROPHIC MELTING, WHICH IS OCCURRING AT A FAR GREATER RATE THAN SCIENTISTS PREDICTED.
EVERYTHING ECOLOGICALLY IS CONNECTED TO EVERYTHING ELSE–WHICH MEANS THAT THERE WILL CONTINUE TO BE UNPREDICTABLE SURPRISING CONSEQUENCES FROM HUMAN ACTIONS–AND FROM ENVIRONMENTAL INTERACTIONS THAT WE DID NOT EXPECT!
ORGANIC–MEANS EVERYTHING AFFECTS EVERYTHING ELSE! RIGHT?
SO… —THIS IS OUR FLIP PHONE IN DRINK MOMENT–AS A SOCIETY.
THIS IS IT–THIS IS WHEN TOO MANY THINGS NEED TO CHANGE–ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
PEOPLE ARE DYING–OTHERS ARE RISKING THEIR LIVES TO SAVE LIVES–OTHERS ARE RISKING THEIR LIVES TO KEEP OUR SOCIETY GOING IN SO MANY OTHER COURAGEOUS WAYS!
WE–WHO ARE STAYING HOME–ARE NOT POWERLESS!
WE CAN USE THIS TIME TO HONOR OTHERS BY EDUCATING OURSELVES AS CITIZENS TO READ, RESEARCH, LEARN, IMAGINE, DREAM, DISCUSS, DIALOGUE–AND ADVOCATE FOR THE LIFE-GIVING CHANGES THAT OUR PLANET NEEDS TO SUSTAIN THE HUMAN LIVES–THAT OTHERS ARE GIVING THEIR LIVES TO SAVE RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE. WE CAN HELP CREATE THE BRIDGE TO A LIVEABLE FUTURE.
HOW DO WE CREATE A SOCIETY THAT ACTIVELY CARES FOR AND SUPPORTS ALL PEOPLE?
The corona virus is showing us what it really means to care for each other. Things are changing–at least in some places–that should have been changed a long time ago –simply because those changes were the right thing to do!
–We are pulling together and working together in our communities, nation, and world community– We are sharing scientific knowledge about this virus, sharing medical personnel and equipment, bringing neighbors food, staying home to stop the virus, and so much more…
–People are risking their lives in so many different kinds of ways–in healthcare, transportation, government, food delivery services, medical supplies, and more!
–Homeless people are getting safe places to stay safe from the virus–at least in some places.
–We are asking ourselves how people are supposed to live, pay bills, feed their families, and pay their rent or mortgages without an income–or without a living wage–or while working 3 jobs–and the government has created some beginning minimal steps to address some of these concerns.
–We are realizing that health care coverage for everyone–PROTECTS EVERYONE DURING A PANDEMIC! AND MORE IMPORTANTLY— EVERY PERSON DESERVES GOOD HEALTH CARE AND HEALTH INSURANCE AS A BASIC RIGHT–BECAUSE EVERY HUMAN LIFE MATTERS!
–We are seeing moving acts of courage by health care workers, first responders, and front line workers who keep supply chains going for food, medical supplies, and basic needs for all of us. We are recognizing that many of these jobs do not pay incomes that reflect the value of these contributions to society. We are also realizing that other jobs–some of which actually harm society in legal ways–actually pay millions of dollars per year.
–We are finding out which politicians believe every human life matters and which politicians are more concerned about the economy and their stock portfolios.
–We are realizing the importance of concepts like “right livelihood”–earning a living by doing a job that benefits society–and “sustainable vocation”–responding to a call or passion to do a job out of an ethical desire to contribute to the common good or out of a sense of spiritual purpose that contributes positively to the larger community.
WHAT KINDS OF ORGANIZATIONS, SOCIETAL STRUCTURES, LAWS, AND POLICIES ARE LIFE-GIVING?
AND WHICH ARE NOT?
WE WILL TALK ABOUT AND DISCUSS THIS MORE IN FUTURE BLOGS.
IN THE MEANTIME–IF YOU LET YOURSELF IMAGINE THE BEST IDEAL WORLD YOU COULD IMAGINE FOR ALL PEOPLE–WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?
AND THEN, HOW DO WE GET THERE?
AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN FOR GENERATIONS HAVE TALKED ABOUT MAKING A WAY OUT OF NO WAY! DOING WHAT IS NECESSARY AND FINDING A WAY TO DO WHAT SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE.
THAT’S WHAT OUR FIRST RESPONDERS ARE DOING RIGHT NOW!
WE CAN HONOR THEM BY BELIEVING, RESEARCHING, LEARNING, AND DIALOGING ABOUT CONCRETE CHANGES THAT CAN BRIDGE THE WAY TO MORE LIFE-GIVING WAYS TO LIVE!
THIS CAN BE A SACRED, SPIRITUAL TIME.
–AND WISDOM– IN THE PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE–
ARE TWO OF THE MOST SACRED SPIRITUAL AND BIBLICAL OR RELIGIOUS ACTIONS.
LET’S DREAM OUR FUTURE TOGETHER!!!!
Namaste! Peace! Health and Safety! Prayers! Blessings! Love! Discernment! Wisdom!
(The pink birds in the photos are spoonbills that I photographed recently on a nature photography tour in Florida. They are also in other countries like Brazil. The bird with the twig for nest building is a parrot in the Pantanal, Brazil.)