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Coronavirus: Have We Already Missed the Opportunity to Build a Better World?

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/08/16/coronavirus-have-we-already-missed-opportunity-build-better-world

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Somehow the choice between trump & biden doesn’t fit into my vision of a more positive future.

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On the bright side, perhaps there’s a prospect of US Americans learning that any sentence beginning with “on the bright side” is getting off on the wrong foot. On the other other hand, Northern California just got its first fire-tornado warning this morning! After these little emails from a planetary ecosystem which has grown heartily tired of us, expect continuing correspondence.

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I hear ya…but change is incremental. For me, it doesn’t matter who our government leaders are anymore. People will still live in their communities and go about their business as usual. The change needs to start in our perceptions.

We now realize that “germs” are out there and can kill. No one made a big deal of the yearly flu season or how many elderly died from it every year. Now, we are hearing all the time about how deadly this virus is. So a new awareness is there about spreading germs. That in itself is the beginning of huge changes.

For instance, what to do about crowds, how to manage people without having everyone bump into each other. That will create different venues organized in different ways…because let’s face it…people like to go to fairs and markets, etc.

My daughter has been working from home all through this and her company is realizing how cost effective that is. They are actually thinking of having a lot more “virtual” meetings, etc., which will save travel expense, and cut the risk of exposure to illness.

I believe things could be different. We haven’t missed the opportunity to build a better world. We are always able to build a better world. We each just need to remember what we learned and apply it to our lives every day.

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“Instead, we need to imagine futures which are just as exciting and fulfilling as the high speed, high consumption, high carbon ones we must leave behind.”

Exciting and fulfilling in not how I would describe his world left behind. Nor is it sustainable in any way shape or fashion.

I maintain that it is we who need to change our vision of what is exciting and fulfilling.

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Yes, when Mother Gaia is through with humans, then maybe there will be a better world.

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Not only has the COVID crisis not effected change of the big things needing change - notably global warming, but it has (thanks to the current denialist fossil-fuel owned White House) rendered even the need for change into a footnote in history.

The “conservatives” that I work with every day are already talking about global warming efforts in the past tense - i.e. “Sure is a good thing all that ridiculous global warming hype was just a passing “liberal” fad …and Tony, its hot in here, what’s wrong with the AC?”

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As long as Wall Street is in control of BOTH Parties…

“Nothing Will Fundamentally Change”

Regardless of which party is playing the lead part in our Mystery Kabuki Theater 2020

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"Instead,

WE NEED TO IMAGINE

futures which are just as exciting and fulfilling as the high speed, high consumption, high carbon ones we must leave behind. We need to give people good reasons to jump the tracks because it is much easier just to slide back to what you know. So let’s

IMAGINE

the city quieter, and the air cleaner, less need to fight with traffic jams and more time to spend with family and friends.

That Seems Like A Good Start

to learning
from COVID-19."

[Emphasis mine]

That last paragraph is where this important article takes off, that is where the most important WORK lays ahead of us. I could also say that is where the most important PLAY lays ahead of us.

" Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution."

  • Einstein

Albert wasn’t kidding, he would imagine interesting scenarios where known elements were at play in relation to each other in new ways and see where it would take him, and it took him, and us, to Relativity, among other astonishing hidden truths. His mind was the laboratory and imagination was the tool that successfully penetrated the limitations, dimensions, that the human eye cannot see. And he told us not because it requires genius to utilyze this gift, but because we all share this ability to create new thoughts, new worlds, in our minds, worlds that can and do transform from imagination into reality. Humans and our ancestors that gave birth to humans have been flexing the plasticity of our unique hominid mind for over 2 million years. It was not just the opposable thumb that brought us out of the trees and into skyscrapers and onto the moon, it was creative consciousness joined with hands that could shape the material world.
I played with mud and sticks as a child (um, still do) and when it comes down to it, it has been PLAY that has been the base of human evolution. Play is the base of science. Babies are the most dedicated of all scientists, they continually test the bounds of what they know. If you poke something with a stick, you are performing one of the oldest scientific tests known to humankind. The games children play explore physical and intangible relationships. Most or all mammal youngsters play, they play and learn. Most adult mammals lose most of the play behaviour, although primate adults retain more, humans most.
This is an important distinction which needs explanation. For over 50 years a russian laboratory bred weasels in 2 directions. Only the friendliest individuals were chosen to bred generation after generation. This led to stark changes not only in behavior but physically as well. Adults retained much more of the qualities of childhood: affection, playfulness. They even kept the varied coloration and fluffiness of their fur which had before been lost by adulthood. They had become j u v e n i l i z e d. By comparison look at humans and see that compared with other primates our species has juvenilized as well, less body hair, remain highly sociable into adulthood,
RETAIN MENTAL PLASTICITY.

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”

  • Leon C. Megginson

“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”

  • W. Edwards Deming

The weasel experiment also bred the least sociable and after fifty years they had become the opposite of cuddly, they had become incredibly vicious, even the babies had lost their young coloration and bore the plain markings of adulthood.

Whether humans can survive ourselves I do not know, but if I retain any sense of value then I must value the imagined idea of uber life continuing on into the future, consciousness evolving into new grand adventure. To manifest a living world from the brink of oblivion I bring my best game. I envision a communal response to survival pressure that relies on the balance from the interplay of the varied strengths of all personalities. I love it that we bring our brains to the Common Dreams playground of ideas! Living should be fun, survival should be fun, our brains work best in a state of flow, which is fun! Instead of running away from environmental automobile disaster, I run to my bicycle, and replace an hour of tedium with 2 to 3 hours of fun, 5 to 7 days a week, feel free to imitate, another valuable childhood trait. There is a universe of possibility on this world, humans created this one, we can create another, play with that awhile.

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Brilliant!

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The coronavirus has taught many lessons, this author has proven he missed the most dire of those lessons in this piece. Clearly he and his friends have benefited nicely from their upper middle class lockdowns, those below him on the economic scale, not so much. Thinking about “holidays in Spain and Portugal”, please I haven’t had more than a two day “holiday” since 1999, and I’m certainly not alone. Where is the acknowledgement that “essential” workers who didn’t get a safe stay-at-home lockdown, are grossly underpaid, while so many in the upper class, who produce nothing for society, are grossly overpaid? Where’s the acknowledgement that the social and economic scales need balancing?
The virus we are dealing with has exposed one thing for sure, this country and all aspects of it, are savagely burning, a “Five Alarm Fire” if you will, and the trucks used to put it out, have for the most part , not even left the fire station. We can expect to see this country in ruins because of the lack of response.

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One of the only opportunities left involves the immediate removal of the criminal clan in the White House and a majority of Congress, then a prolonged lock down of the population and the grounding of the Airlines to prevent the perpetual spread of this killer virus.

Short of this, this commenter fears not only he will not be around a great deal longer but many of my fellow commenters here at Common Dreams will join him in the hereafter.

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I think we learned that the entire planet could be locked down in a matter of weeks, millions tossed from their jobs, economy in taters, total submission, dissent silenced, rich getting richer; all over a virus which was not lethal to a majority of people on this planet.

I agree with you, I also think there is room for an upbeat article focusing on some, not all, important aspects to actually get where we need to go, where we should have been.
There’s nuts and bolts and there’s big picture, and then there is process. Pluralize all of those. I thought the author just got to the point in the end paragraph and would like to read the books that start from there.
Einstien didnt forget what he knew while imagining transcendence, knowledge and experience formed the solid base of the new. I enjoy reading with my hair on fire as much as anyone I personally know but shift is a pattern as universally basic and powerful as spin and spheres.
We can think outside the box we built, climbed into, then set on fire, but we have to choose to. And practice, lots of practice. Im practicing now, writing my thoughts, like Martin Parker was.
We should try to get better at camping, because living like that would leave 14 billion less harsher footprints, and camping is fun! Eating from your garden, fun and nutritious. Im not making light, victory gardens were no joke in WWII, living closer to the land with way less material and energy is our future if we are to have one.
As we power down we dont go backward, we apply what has worked to invent how it can work better now that we know more. We change incrementally all the time anyway, we need to change how we change to meet the needs.
Here’s a Covid change, California and other states are moving forward with creating state banks like North Dakota has had since the 1800’s. Money, like time and space, has more properties than meets the eye, and with a bank you can do wonderful things if that is your intent. California will be able to safely afford safety nets it otherwise wouldnt. At the federal level, no other country has the mystical powers of the US dollar but those jerks only use money wizardry for the Evil Lords, as I know you know.
In fact, I dont think anybody doesnt know all this, I am making the case for applying ourselves to openness, raising our threshold for change, accepting discomfort at adjusting, finding common cause with those we encounter, give and take for mutual benfit, try to see the upside of new ideas amidst the flaws and negotiate solutions. These are all scattergory thoughts that I swim in that I feeel are crucial to the realization of some version of a vision worth living for.

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That’s where I am: I wandered into this room. Now I sit here wondering what I’m hereafter.

A brief history of USA COVID-19 cases (latest CDC numbers):

> WEEK    35 DAYS             CASES
>         ENDING          NEW       TOTAL
> 
>   5.  02/22/2020          15          15
>  10.  03/28/2020     122,638     122,653
>  15.  05/02/2020     999,956   1,122,609
>  20.  06/06/2020     798,295   1,920,904
>  25.  07/11/2020   1,315,226   3,236,130
>  30.  08/15/2020   2,104,102   5,340,232

Yeah, I might have been a tad bit harsh, and I admitted in the comment section on the next story up in CD’s line-up. And I enjoy the upbeat comments you and others provide here. I just felt, and I could be wrong, like the author was oblivious to what most are going though right now, like he lives in his own protected world, while “essential workers” are dying, to provide him with his safe, stay at home world.

I appreciated the opportunity for my rebuttal as the process of commenting helped clarify a swirl of amorphous thoughts longing for words.
You may well be right regarding the author’s world inhabiting a more comfotable orbit than ourselves in the essential services (Im a custodian in an elementary school) and for that I give him credit for his empathy.
Perhaps my calmness today is the yin to the yang of finally feeling emotionally overwhelmed last weekend and being able to recover in nature with friends this week.
Thankyou for your response, I enjoy your posts as well.

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Actually I don’t think you were too harsh Recon.

When my wife and I went to climb on a big honking glacial erratic yesterday, we cycled thru some five to ten million dollar neighborhoods before we got to the trails on the Paskapoo Slopes.

These people don’t like us intruding on their turf - they can tell who we are, and we can tell who they are. Downright unfriendly - and I mean that.

No - you’re right on there Recon - and it’s probably worse than even I think. These people are on a different planet, and they build walls -

When you have a middle class - you have India in the making - a caste system being born.

Without continual redistribution of capitalist wealth - the system will grind to a halt.

Even with re-distribution - it’s still a class system.

Hard nut to crack Recon - I don’t have the answer.

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Your experience in these upper class neighborhoods reminds me of a trip I made driving along the Mississippi River, in the MS. Delta. I went through many small towns, some couldn’t even be called towns they were so small. This area of the state is still very much segregated by race, in fact whites there sent their kids to private schools, so they wont have to sit next to African Americans. There is no lower middle class, your either a white, upper middle class land owner, or poor AA, who works on these farms. As I would drive through these towns, there was always people sitting on their front porches. In the AA towns, they would smile and wave as I went by, the white towns, they would just glare at me, very surreal.

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My only comment will be this: Apropos to the separation from Corona we are all feeling one way or another, and the better world we all need greatly, there is this magic salve all in one musical package,

~https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ph1GU1qQ1zQ