Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Tag: pandemic

This quote from the Dalai Lama says, “If we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster!”

After disaster, now what?

This New Year’s season feels to me a bit like climbing out of the rubble after disaster has struck. I don’t think I’ll get much pushback about whether 2020 qualifies as a disaster. The worst part is that the disaster’s not finished with us.

Those certainly are not the jolliest New Year’s reflections ever shared, but here we are. The painful joke about hitting bottom and then starting to dig definitely applies to 2021, so far.

This quote from author Chuck Palahniuk says, “Only after disaster can we be resurrected. It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything. Nothing is static, everything is evolving, everything is falling apart.”
Quotefancy

Already starting to dig

COVID-19 just added two frightening, virulent mutations to the mix. Vaccine distribution hasn’t gone smoothly. The predicted spike in infections from Christmas travel has only begun to hit, but many hospitals are already overwhelmed.

Although the countdown on homicides resets at the turn of the year, here in the Kansas City metro area we had two homicide deaths on New Year’s Day alone, after a record high in 2020. Just as bad, two persons experiencing homelessness were found dead from exposure during the holiday weekend. My home metro area is not alone. Homicides are up all over the country. So is homelessness, which has been extra-dangerous during the pandemic, even before winter started.

And speaking of the weather, if you think 2020 had a high number of natural disasters (it did), climate scientists warn that things will only get worse. Gosh, have I cheered you up yet?

This quote from Mandy Hale says, “Change can be scary, but you know what’s scarier? Allowing fear to stop you from growing, evolving, and progressing.”
Everyday Power

Are we “growing, evolving, and progressing”?

I think that’s actually on us to decide. It’s easy to let the gloom and doom suck us down. After the pandemic hit, depression in the US tripled. COVID-19 disrupted mental health services all over the globe, so you know that misery had company worldwide. And goodness knows after disaster upon disaster, we had things to be depressed about.

But some of us were able to find opportunities despite all the disruption. Some of my artist friends found they had more time to focus on larger, more ambitious projects, or on building new relationships with companies that wanted to license their images for hot new trends such as jigsaw puzzles.

People became more focused on locally-owned small businesses. Websites such as Independent We Stand, with a robust local business search function, helped us reconnoiter.

It became kind of a civic duty among some of my friends to buy local, order carry-out from their favorite restaurants more often, or order from their favorite local bookstore (and incidentally save the cost of shipping), then swing by in person to pick up their purchases. IndieBound and Bookshop bolstered those efforts online.

This quote from John D. Rockefeller says, “I always tried to turn every disaster into and opportunity.”
BrainyQuote

Some of us got newly active; let’s never be complacent again

Famously, 2020 was the year when millions of white people could no longer ignore the crippling racial disparities in our country, and when millions of people from all backgrounds took to the streets about it. Income inequality and health care disparities were part of it, but police violence riveted our attention more.

The George Floyd murder—8 full minutes and 48 seconds of despair and agony playing out on video under the knee of an uncaring white cop—provided the catalyst for protests against police brutality and racism, not just in the United States but all over the world.

This quote from Catherine the Great says, “I beg you take courage; the brave soul can mend even disaster.”
BrainyQuote

We in the US are far from the only country with a race problem, but our history means in many ways we’re still fighting the Civil War. And we’re woefully far from being “post-racial.”

No honest person could deny that fact, after the summer of 2020. How do we fix it? It won’t be a quick fix, that’s for sure. Despite record sales of books about anti-racism, there are still plenty of bigots walking around (whether they realize it or not).

And it’s not up to white people to step in and take over the “fixing.” That may surprise some of us who are not as “woke” as we think we are. It is up to us to extend a hand of friendship. To listen—really listen—to Black and brown people. And then to work in partnership with POC leaders who’ve been doing this for a long time already. They already know lots more than any latecomers have even thought of, yet.

This quote from the Dalai Lama says, “If we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster!”
Picture Quotes

Traditions in a time of turmoil

My sister wrote a great post for The Weird Blog this week, about New Year’s traditions and her unique spin on them. I think she has a good philosophy, about taking what works for you or adapting familiar ideas to new situations.

I’ve heard that a lot of people are adjusting their new year’s resolutions in response to recent events, opting for wiser, less stereotypical choices.

With this post, I’m reviving a tradition that I allowed to lapse in 2020, but I’m bringing it back in a new form. After my schedule grew too busy to continue my old practice of writing 2-3 blog posts each week, I reluctantly dropped the “Quote of the Week” and “Image of Interest” features. I simply didn’t have time. Alert followers of Artdog Adventures likely saw it coming, but I made it official in April.

Those posts got a lot of love over the years, though. And I missed them too! So I’m going to try a “Quotes of the Month” approach in 2021. That starts with this “After disaster” post you’re just finishing here. I plan, as much as possible, to make the first post of each month an essay-with-quote-images (and hope that effort won’t be a disaster). Please let me know what you think of them!

IMAGE CREDITS:

Many thanks for the illustrated quote from author Chuck Palahniuk, to Quotefancy. I’m grateful to Everyday Power for the quote from author Mandy Hale. Many thanks to BrainyQuote for the wisdom from industrialist John D. Rockefeller, and also for the quote from Russian empress Catherine the Great. Finally, many thanks to Picture Quotes, for the words of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.

Several signs promote a growing push to defund and demilitarize the police.

Ripe for protests

We were ripe for protests. We should have seen them coming. Some of us undoubtedly did.

The COVID-19 pandemic stripped all the systemic problems and weaknesses in our racist, inequitable society bare. They stare us in the face every day of our transformed lives. Every news cycle, the horrors pile up.

Cascades of catastrophe

An ever-changing number of states show uncontrolled spread of COVID. We’ve recorded more than five million cases of COVID in the USA. And more than 160,000 deaths. By the time this post goes live, there will be more. Of course—inevitably—Black, brown, and non-gender-conforming groups and communities take the hardest hit. Always.

Here’s a New York Times graph showing gains and losses in the Gross Domestic Product  (GDP) since the late 1940s. The deepest drops seem to have been around 2-3%, but in the second quarter of 2020 it dropped 9.5%, which looks really dramatic on the chart—a far deeper plunge than in any of the previous years shown.
From the New York Times

Approximately 16.4 million people currently face unemployment in the US. Our GDP dropped off the bottom of the chart in the second quarter. It’s officially a recession, but Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson recently called for us to “call it what it is,” a Pandemic Depression. His arguments are compelling.

Meanwhile, millions of Americans are staring homelessness in the face, as short-term pandemic aid from the Federal Government runs out. Thanks to Senate inactivity, nothing is there to replace it.

If past is prelude, protests were inevitable

Oh, yes, we were ripe for protests. At crisis points like the one we’re in, people always take to the streets. A recent National Geographic article surveyed earlier protests in the USA, but you don’t have to stop at our borders. Just look at the unrest that swept several continents in 1848. Driven by civil unrest, famine, and accumulated outrage, these uprisings toppled governments and transformed many parts of the world—including the USA.

Archaeologists uncover shallow graves in Peru where child sacrifices were buried by the Chimú people e 500 years ago.
Courtesy of National Geographic

Crisis breeds desperate measures. Five hundred years ago, a climate crisis drove the Chimú people of Peru (the empire that preceded the Inca) to sacrifice hundreds of their own children.

We haven’t gone that far, but some of us do seem willing to send them, their teachers, and other school personnel back into classrooms with less-than-ideal safeguards. Was anyone surprised to see the North Paulding High School close after only a week?

In this now-infamous photo, 15-year-old Hannah Waters captured a crowded hallway at North Paulding High School in Georgia, where no one was social distancing and almost no one was wearing masks.
Photo by Hannah Waters, via AP and The Washington Post

Yes, it’s getting more violent. That was predictable, too.

When I started the First Amendment series, I had protests in mind. I thought it was important to remember that the First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging . . . the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Dr. Martin Luther King called riots “the language of the unheard” in a 1966 interview with Mike Wallace on the TV show 60 Minutes. He explained how people can be pushed to violence, yet steadfastly argued for nonviolent protest. Unfortunately, many today have grown impatient.

Back at the start of the summer, the protests were mostly peaceful—except when exacerbated by forceful curfew enforcement, or a minority of agitators. Lately, however, we’ve seen a troubling uptick in violence.

Why the violence? Why now? It may be deepening desperation, sparked by the worsening death toll and unemployment picture. Perhaps it’s growing disillusionment, after a summer of protests that have sparked conversation—but no real action in response to people’s deepening needs. And it might be a partial reaction to the clear disregard by police and some authorities for the arguments protesters make.

We’re still ripe for protests. And I fear we’ll continue to be a powder keg till inequalities are ameliorated, help is delivered, and the pandemic abates.

In other words, don’t hold your breath. It’s not nearly over.

IMAGE CREDITS:

I deeply appreciate the New York Times for providing a graphic demonstration of the Second-Quarter 2020 drop in the US Gross Domestic Product, as compared with previous decades. Many thanks to National Geographic for the photo of the archaeological excavation of child-sacrifice graves in Peru. All respect to Hannah Waters, the brave 15-year-old who blew the whistle on her alma mater, North Paulding High School, with thanks to the AP and the Washington Post for making her photo available. Finally, I want to thank You Tube and 60 Minutes, for the historic Mike Wallace interview with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This post wouldn’t be the same without you!

This Muhammad Ali quote says, "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth."

What are our priorities?

I think we all understand that life will change after the pandemic, but what are our priorities? What guiding principles will light our way and inform those changes? In the face of glaring inequities revealed by the crisis, I worry about this.

Perhaps I should explain where I stand. I believe that the proper role of government is to defend and work for its citizensAll of them, not just the rich and powerful. This idealistic view parallels passages in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, or, at least it does the way I was taught to read them.

Unfortunately, what we see unfolding in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic all too often reflects different priorities.

Priorities revealed

It’s a truism that we don’t really know what we’re made of till we’re tested. 

This quote from Warren W. Wiersbe reads, "After all, a crisis doesn't make a person; it reveals what a person is made of."
Many thanks to QuoteFancy, for this quote from Warren W. Wiersbe.

For every prediction that smart investors should migrate to renewable energy, there also seems to be a view to the contrary that “We can no longer indulge the impulses of “environmental” activists. Sanitary plastic grocery bags are safer than reusables. Mass transit and densely-packed cities spread infections. Automobiles and suburban/rural living are healthier,” as Jerry Shenk put it recently.

Other decision-making whipsaws reflect just as little consensus. Whose priorities should we value? Whose should we reject as unworthy? 

Varied views of future outcomes

I’ve read interesting stories about wildlife venturing into areas where traffic has dropped off. Others about historically clean air in places where traffic has dropped off. And one about ways to make cities more walking friendly and keep car traffic at lower levels after the pandemic (see a trend, there?).

I’ve seen several articles about ordinary people’s decimated savings. Others explore the disastrous effect of recent public policies. And a flood of new ways for creative people to grow their businesses continues as people discover new and old techniques. 

Not only that, but there are predictions about ways our minds will change about things such as social distancingwork from homechild care, and universal health care. I’ve also read more cynical predictions about how some will spin retrospectives to skew perceptions if possible.

This quote from James Baldwin says, "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."
Many thanks to Goalcast, for this quote from James Baldwin.

Our decisions reveal our priorities

Most of my fellow countrymen/women are pretty decent folks, as individuals. We’ve seen gallant examples of selflessnessself-sacrifice, and public spirit as this pandemic rolls out. These warm my heart and give me hope.

Some of my most-accessed blog posts in recent weeks have been those about ways to thank first responders, and how to understand and respond to their stress.

Many Americans–many people all over the world–understand the deep things. The value of honest work, the worth of a thank-you, the joy of praising admirable deeds.

This Muhammad Ali quote says, "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth."
Many thanks to Discover Corps for this quote from Muhammad Ali.

But we’ve also seen a different spirit. 

It reveals itself in the unseemly scramble of large, publicly-traded companies grabbing up vast sums of money meant to go to small businesses struggling to stay afloat. The rules allowed it, so they grabbed. Some of them gave it back once they were caught. 

We’ve also seen banks garnish stimulus money from overdrawn customers, pre-empting what was meant to be grocery and rent money from ever reaching the desperate would-be recipients.

And we’ve seen crowds of closely-packed protestors, mostly white folk with guns, demanding that the lockdowns be ended immediately so they can get haircuts, among other things. They claim a constitutional right to liberty, plus economic insecurity, drives them. Although other motives have been noted.

What are our priorities? 

Now is the moment for us to decide. Are things more important than people?

Is our convenience more important than other people’s lives? Do we even have the right to make the decision that it is?

Who gets to decide how many deaths are “acceptable losses”–and, acceptable to exactly whom?

Do we live in a country that is of, by, and most especially for the people? All of the people? And, for this question’s purposes, corporations are not people, my friend. 

This quote from Mahatma Gandhi says, "The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members."

I very much worry how history will evaluate our true measure, based on how we order our priorities today.

How do you think we should form–and inform–the priorities that will guide us into the future? What are you doing to join that conversation?

IMAGE CREDITS

Many thanks to QuoteFancy, for the Warren W. Wiersbe quote; to GoalCast, for the quote from James Baldwin; to DiscoverCorps, for the quote from Muhammad Ali; and to AZ Quotes, for the Mahatma Gandhi quote. I appreciate you all!

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