The Only Way Out Is Through, Together
The world is literally on fire. The worst swarm of locusts in a quarter century is making its way throughout the cradles of civilization. A pandemic is spreading across the globe, tanking markets within an already unstable economy. The world’s liberal democracies, already sources of war and colonizations but frequently sites of progress, are marching into open fascism.
We knew that this was going to happen...but that doesn’t mean we are prepared for it.
We know that this world needs to burn down for something else to grow...but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t grieve the lives that will be lost to the flame.
This moment is necessary but also terrible.
Destructive but paving the way for growth.
Predictable yet shocking.
This form that it takes was avoidable but the death of things that were not good enough for us, not able to provide for all of us, not able to hold human complexity is inevitable.
Some version of this moment was inevitable.
But now is not the time to throw our arms up in despair. There will still be a tomorrow, there always is. There will always be an “after” waiting to be shaped by the seeds we plant now. We are already post-apocalyptic people, shaped by dreams of ancestors who lived through the harrows of colonization and genocide, each of which are an apocalypse in themselves. We live in a world that was born from others. We are fruits of the seeds they planted deep within the earth springing forth with the opportunity to heal what is left unhealed.
As the world burns we do not need to concern ourselves with putting out the fires. We should not cower under the calcified structures of exploitation that surround us just because they are the only shelter in sight. While the roof of the master’s house is on fire, we have to let it burn. We might live there too, but we cannot forget that we don’t own it. It was never ours.
So allow yourself to grieve. Be angry. Acknowledge your fears. Let this movement change you, let it stop you from working but don’t let it stop you from caring. If it overwhelms you, let it. Rest without forcing your heart to close. Don’t leave anything to be processed by those who will come after. Process it all now so that we can focus on what comes next from a place of wholeness and groundedness.
As scary as it is, the burning is the easy part. It burns on its own. It can only survive the fire if we save it. The real work is building something new. That is work that can only be done collectively and can only be done by those who survive. So surviving together and building something better is the purpose of all of us who choose to be alive in this moment.
Despite what dystopian movies would tell us, only community will save us. Yes, there will be looting around the world. Yes, this will fuel the right who can’t picture anything coming next except a Mad Max hellscape. Yes, corporations will seek to make a profit from the crisis. But already seeds of liberation are being planted. Activists are building mutual aid networks. Neighbors are working out ways to feed children who will not be at school. Nurses and care workers are pushing back against those who would put profit over saving lives.
We will survive this. There will be an after. It will be different than anything we can imagine. And while we cannot control the future, we can shape it by planting seeds of Liberation. We decide if the after is more of the same exploitation and alienation. We decide if we plant seeds of love and light for descendants to harvest.
We can grieve the jobs and the homes that are lost. We can take it as an opportunity to find our true vocations and build refuge in unexpected places. We can grieve for those who die, knowing that they offered what they could in their time while we fight for the living. We can watch as the systems fail to respond in reasonable, ethical ways while building new systems of care and support in our own communities. We can build communities in this moment by coming together and being open and honest about our need for belonging and willingness to offer it to those who want it. But this is only possible if we open up our wallets, our homes, and our hearts to each other. There is no other way through this crisis as a species than being truly, magnificently human and humane together.
Take care of yourself.
Have compassion for yourself and you will have more capacity for others.
Don’t spend your energy saving systems that were not meant for you.
Wash your hands often.
Don’t give up touch completely, we need touch to survive.
Develop ways to organize online, both on social media and off.
Host weekly Zoom check ins for people quarantined to stay connected.
Join one of the many projects for mutual aid being developed.
Call your friends and check up on them.
Be kind to strangers.
Don’t share anything online with anyone that you don’t know is true.
Wash your hands.
Keep masks for the sick and for healthcare workers.