This Pandemic is a Warm-up Drill – by John Graham


So I leave the house with mask and gloves and I social-distance my way to the post office and the grocery store and the pharmacy. There’s no way I’m going to put other people at risk by being macho myself. Here’s hoping that idea is getting through to other adventure junkies like me.

I value lessons like those from philosopher and educator Parker Palmer who said in a recent essay, “As some of the fallout from this crisis comes my way… I’m learning more about the good hearts of people who reach out in ways that reflect our shared humanity. I’m touched by those who ask, ‘How you doing? Any way I can help?’, and clearly want to know.”

A crisis provides the opportunities to forge a better society, but not the political will to seize them. That requires ideas, courage and leadership. All seem in short supply today. Frankly, I‘m not optimistic that we will seize these opportunities for the renewal of our institutions and ourselves, even though they are right there for us to see, in full view amidst the wreckage. For the sake of my great-grandchildren I hope I’m wrong. I hope that this nation and others will summon up the courage, foresight, compassion and vision required to shape a new world that fixes the fatal flaws exposed by this pandemic.

America faces a fundamental choice between defending a status quo revealed by crisis as dangerously inadequate— and embracing progressive change. During the Great Depression and again after World War II, America used a just and activist government to build new worlds on the ashes. We need to do it again.

It’s not like the universe is going to give us a respite. We cannot forget in this time of a pandemic that the climate crisis is still bearing down on us. It is inexorable and existential. We will survive COVID-19. Humanity will continue when the virus has played out. But if we do not learn the survival lessons this planetary pandemic has given us, we will not survive the next challenge, the global climate crisis that’s heading straight at us.

This pandemic is a warm-up drill.

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