Just when we were accommodating life in a global pandemic – when wearing masks and carrying hand sanitizer was becoming third if not second nature – when daily walks in the neighborhood were forging a sense of real community with our neighbors, an orange haze took over the atmosphere, the sun truly set and it is difficult to breathe. A close friend called last night to inquire, worried that our family was becoming inure to the threats – like frogs in slow boiling water. And so, at her urging, we set the table last night for that conversation and it may be true we are such frogs because as we spoke it was hard to find and then to justify a departure. Where to go? How to get there?
The escape routes by car drive us deeper into or right through worse conditions. The air travel option requires courage to travel given the virus and a destination that can accommodate us over time. And we do have both, but they are planted for a week or two from now, so the question remains: are we frogs? Our son is scheduled to return to Chicago on September 21st…and we are scheduled for New York on September 29th .
At the moment our family is huddled with windows tightly sealed, scanning the internet for the proper air purifier that can be delivered as soon as possible. Like all thoughtful folks, we are wondering how to interpret these disturbances. I believe that what is true is that we are perpetrators and victims. As individuals and members of a class, we own the former position for having taken so much for granted, for living selfishly and mindlessly for avarice and ambition. Metaphorically, as individuals and also members of a class, we have been joyfully target shooting, failing to realize we are the targets. I am thinking about how we act as individuals, rationalizing the marginal effects we render, but our standards, our expectations, the rules by which we live, the values we hold, these lead us to sum collectively, capable of shifting the axis of our planet; and so we have.
To me, this is the most compelling case for why we need a society that is humble and restrained – a society that holds the highest values of balance, and fairness – one that respects this blessed planet and is committed to its health and preservation; one that measures its success by how well those who are least able to care for themselves are doing; not boasting about the highest concentration of wealth but about the elimination of the systemic dirges of poverty, homelessness hunger and illiteracy. That society might endure. This one seems up against nature in the worst possible way.
Not frogs yet,