Life Going Forward

David Trammel's picture

I find Sharon Astyk a great writer, though I know some here do not agree with her politics. This post keeps free of that. She asks, have we seen a change to society on the order of the Great Depression? And what do we do going forward?

( Original post by Sharon Astyk, I have not read the comments so I can't guarantee they don't get political, be warned.)

"This is our life now, so we might as well get on with it.

I have given quite a lot of mostly unsolicited advice on facebook since it seemed obvious the pandemic was going to hit in early February. If I had to give one more, the above would be it.

THIS IS NOT GOING AWAY SOON, so we might as well start living our lives again.

Dr. Fauci's suggestion that the pandemic won't leave until the end of 2021 is one of the more optimistic expert thoughts - 2022 is the WHO's estimate, and there are others that go longer. There are a lot of variables, but even if a good vaccine or treatment becomes available, getting it to billions of people is going to be a challenge. Compliance is going to be a challenge. We may have only another year of this. We almost certainly do not have less, and it could be much longer.

And even if the vaccines are great, doses in the billions, everyone takes it, outbreaks constrained, covid just a bad memory - then what?

We still will have spent almost 2 years decimating huge sectors of the economy - restaurants, theaters, commercial real estate, etc.... We still will have hundreds of thousands or millions of people with lingering aftereffects and disabilities. We still will have radically changed our cities. Foreclosures and evictions will have moved hundreds of thousands of people. We will be, for better or worse, people transformed by an experience, much as previous generations were changed by The Great Depression. We will not return to being exactly who we were, and neither will our economy.

Moreover, the other things shaping our circumstances aren't leaving. Fire season in the west is a disaster...and it is coming again next year and the next, fueled by climate change. Same with hurricane season and other climate related natural disasters. The heat waves and the droughts, the crop failures and the health consequences of the fires and floods are coming every year to towns near you.

Some places will be much harder to live in - and a lot harder to insure or get a loan to live in. Places that are hard to live in will require money and special adaptive skills that not everyone has.

A long time ago, I wrote that it is not particularly surprising that more than one ecological disaster strike at once - that if you hang out around a creek drinking beer and pissing in the creek, you may simultaneously run out of beer and not want to drink the water. This is not a shock if you have any sense at all of cause and effect. The same is true of this pandemic - we knew it was coming, we just preferred not to know.

2020 bingo will be succeeded by 2021 and 2022 bingo, all with abundant disasters. Some years will be better than others. The pandemic will be here for at least a year, and probably years. And it will be followed by other bills we put off paying coming due.

So this is your life now. Yeah, I wish it was different too. But now every single one of us needs to ask "If this is my life, or a variant of it" what do I need to do to protect myself, my family, my friends, my community. What do I need to live and thrive and serve others.

You cannot wait it out - oh, I can't swear you won't get lucky, but the odds are against it. If your kids need to be educated, we are going to have to find a way - and also find a way to redefine educated so that our skills fit our current reality. If your loved ones need support, we are going to have to find ways to make that happen. If you have resources to share or needs to be met, now is the time to think about them. If you are struggling with mental health needs, well, address them now. Because while I'm sure it will get will also get worse again.

All of us need to answer questions - how will we meet our needs for love, income, warmth, safety, food, community, education, avocation, faith, justice, comfort, caring, aid, support health... how will we meet them in ways that meet US where we currently are. We cannot keep putting off meeting needs or living lives because it seems to hard or we are hoping too hard the problems will go away. We need to take a good clear look at our world, and what we will need, and find the way of ensuring those basic resources for ourselves and those we are entwined with EVEN IF NOTHING GETS BETTER.

If you are struggling with how to sort out what to do, what changes to make, I have always advocated that you choose those with the greatest optimization power - the changes that would make both your life now and your future life in a better world even better. That way if we are all pleasantly surprised by positive outcomes, we can look knowingly at the changes we made and realize that they were not wasted.

But most importantly, this is your life right now and for the forseeable future. What will you make of it? Where will you go from here? Because here is the only place to go on from."