Learning to Live with It
It seems to me, from my armchair in this nook in the valley, that “we are learning to live with it.” “It” being states of affairs and being that we never hoped for. Here are a few of them that we are learning to live with:
· The COVID-19 pandemic cannot be defeated back to zero infections.
· Violent nationalism shows no signs of disappearing.
· China’s intrusions into the South China Sea will continue.
· Battles against gender diversity in Eastern Europe will ratchet up.
· Facebook (and others) will never relinquish profits over people.
· Post-modern ego-centeredness will ultimately take a revolution to eliminate.
· Carbon poisoning of the atmosphere cannot be stopped “in time.”
· International conglomerates are beyond control by anyone.
· Artificial Intelligence will achieve the ability to innovate.
· Our present extinction event is now irreversible.
Each of those states is a sub-topic. For example, we could substitute the word “viruses” for “COVID-19 pandemic” as we become aware of our impotence against the threat of them. Viruses are more adaptable than we are. With regard to the environmental crisis, we are becoming aware that it is within the power of nature to continue beyond the extinction of any or almost all of the larger species, and nature is working toward eliminating the threat we humans pose. It may take time but nature will eradicate us.
On the personal level, each of us is learning to live with our individual configurations of circumstances we never hoped for. COVID has confronted us with requirements to which we need to adjust. Information technology has changed the way we think, whether we think so or not. Products we need to sustain life are all dependent on outside sources. We are enslaved to a survival-system from which death is our only escape.
But we have one set of choices left.
Our attitude is still moderately free. We can pick and choose what to worry about, and what to do about some of our circumstances. We can plan for tomorrow.
There are limits to that freedom, of course. Our health, for instance, may now include allergies that did not exist before bio-chemical pollution was imposed on world agriculture. Some emotional conditions (clinical depression, for one) are not matters of free choice and may not be completely cured medically. Being born feminine in a misogynistic culture puts one at an incredible disadvantage. Discovering one’s self to be gay is no “picnic” and may even be tragic.
But we can choose to sink into despair or to move on. Sometimes that to which we are able to move might be as utterly trivial as deciding to move from one chair to another. A thousand times that move would amount to almost nothing, but once in a thousand times it might give one a glimpse at something that “makes all the difference.” Almost none of the junctures that changed our life direction were anticipated or even realized as important at the moment.
Moving on takes willpower, but only a little at first.
First we do something “first”. We make a phone call, or go out for pizza, or take a nap. But that leads to a new thing to be done. After a while we realize that in some tiny way we are on the way toward moving things around (within our corner of the world) to make something better. Movement toward hope then takes on increasing scale.
If we are a national leader we might announce, at the end of a longish string of movement, “It’s no longer feasible to strive for zero infections now that the Delta-strain of COVID has changed the conditions.” As the leader in New Zealand has decided a day or so ago, it’s time to do something differently.
Here where I am, vaccinations are again normal, the opposition has resigned, and we have moved on to wonder how many shots and what vaccines; that’s our purview. So we go for the jab. We’re out of our chair and moving on. But we do not know what the results are going to be.
Moving on is never into certainty.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.