How easy would it be to despair now! The world seems in shambles, whatever we have gained seems lost, and the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban appears like a symbol for our times. Covid is resurgent, the world is burning, and what future will we ever be able to enjoy?
None, if we don’t believe in its possibility. We must be hopeful, and from hope will come action. If we want to survive and prosper as a planetary community, we can make it happen, but we need to defeat our despair first. It is possible, because it was possible in the past.
History – both natural and human – is full of the worst and most horrible tragedies imaginable. And yet, we are still here. Because of that, hope is the most logical position even now. Seriously.
It’s as if nature has decided to teach humanity a lesson. Coronavirus and Climate Change are real dangers, but maybe too abstract to most, and denial abounds, actions are taken too hesitantly, and somehow, we keep thinking that things will just work out somehow.
There is nothing like the power of wildfires to teach us little arrogant apes who’s boss. As wildfires all across the Western United States are leading to mass evacuations, red and orange skies, and air too toxic to breathe with or without a mask (at least now we have them in supply!), humanity seems much smaller in reality than in our fantasy.
We should learn from that. Nature always wins. Be prepared. Be kind. And respect that which you cannot control.
How do we each year get caught up in a frenzy over holidays? Whose holiday, what kind of holiday, how to fill the time, whether and what to give to whom – and in the end, all we want to do, is to rest – but then, it’s back to work.
The idea should be simple (I know, it never is, and the idea of simplicity is always kind of utopian): The time which is marked in the Gregorian calendar as the end of the year roughly coincides with the darkest days in the year. If you find a way to bring some light into the darkness, this makes these days palatable.
Also, if you are ending your calendar at that time, it makes sense to take a breath and get the sense of being able to start over in the new year, after contemplating on your successes and failures, and spending time with those you care about. You may even finish some work that needs finishing, but do it in the comfort of holiday cheer around you.
You need no religion for that. It doesn’t necessarily hurt either.
Actually, in times like these, the story of taking in a small family in need of a home, can be instructive in how we position ourselves collectively, as a species, towards questions of home.
There are refugees needing welcoming homes right now. Are we not supposed to take care of others? Sadly, not everyone values family – even though that should be the basic connection that should be taken for granted. You should be able to feel at home, at home. You should also be able to think beyond your immediate circle and see as fellow human beings those who need help. That does not need to mean you need to do big things. But you could at least endorse the principle of caring humanity, and call out those that don’t support that, as who they are.
Our planet, our very home, needs us to take more care of it. Are we not supposed to be stewards of the land, rather than rapacious exploiters? We need the earth to live, and we do need materials, and other lives to live on. I am not a vegetarian, and I am aware of that. But do we not need to make sure that what we leave behind can sustain not just the present but also future generations, even if they are not your own?
In the end, the holidays could indeed be about home.
Again, you need no religion for that. But maybe, looking at a nativity scene, and just seeing a family in need of a good home, surely doesn’t hurt.