Not the end of the world after all

   What could possibly go right? Now. 2021.

Now as the vaccines loosen us up, sending kids to schools and people to work.

Now that unemployment is down and the stimmy checks are landing in bank accounts.

Now that we’ve collectively wrenched power from the madman in the White House, and are rounding up those emboldened by him to insurrection.

Now that Biden has a clear grip on the wheel of state, resolutely unblocking climate and justice progress stuck for years in the narrow channel of capitalism – sort of like that digging out that super tanker in the Suez.

The televised Derek Chauvin trial is underway, a ritual of accountability, of finally the black man mattering.

The huge gut punches that made 2020 a collective trauma are now down in society’s large intestine, heading towards history.

But we are not out of the woods.

The new head of the CDC went off script recently, begging people to stay the masking course as the Covid variants and inattention are sending our numbers back up again. Two mass shootings have put gun violence back on the proverbial “table” with little hope of resolution. Draconian voting rights legislation is moving through State Houses and actually got signed into law in Georgia, 7 white men at a signing ceremony with a painting of an old plantation house in the background. Children in detention on the border still heartbreakingly unresolved, and more climate and economic refugees are moving across the planet because they have to.

We’re out of first aid zone, but it’s not clear that we’ve mended any of what really ails us.

2020 ripped the curtain back on racism, polluted media, a second-rate public health system riddled with hubris and profit, white supremacists’ wet dreams of civil war, wokeness-coated privilege that does not intend to let go, and a nation ready file for divorce if they could figure out how to split the property. Oh, and carbon pollution is back to pre-pandemic levels so fat chance the pandemic alone will make us behave.

What Could Possibly Go Right? is still the right question in 2021 (maybe always a good question),  but I think we are on a new horizon for our necessary healing, beyond the initial trauma.

Sure the militias are out there and sure they are free to believe what they will, but will they get away with hate and violence at that scale they have? Probably not. We’re learning new lessons of how to be free and accountable – liberty and justice for all.

Sure hate speech and other offspring from our wild-west American mythos are still raging, but Congress is set to tame social media’s wild irresponsibility.

Sure, the scientific data on climate tipping points is ever more dire, but this 11th hour 59th minute cliff hanger may yet kick in the will to make change. Appetite for regulation and bold actions is up (please tell Congress to let our people go from enslavement to economic growth), and climate denialism isn’t getting as much media oxygen. Truly time to scrimmage in the end zone.

Political participation is up. Solidarity across movements is up. BIPOC representation in the arts, academics and politics is up.

In other words, what new patterns, not just inklings or incidents, are emerging? Through what or whom?

One recent guest was surprisingly optimistic because he sees his own kids truly smarter and wiser than he ever was, and sees his old friends in a conservative backwater evolving – without admitting it – to more liberal views.

Another guest was bursting with enthusiasm about local mutual aid networks.

Maybe I need to modify my question from “With all that seems to be going wrong, what could possibly go right?” to “After the breakdowns of 2020, what breakthroughs do you see emerging? In all this flux, what could possibly go right now?”

I am not hopeful, whatever that means. But I am faithful to Life, which has outlasted human folly and other life forms’ existential threats.

Life always asks, of any mess, “What could possibly go right?” Life is a rag picker, an improbable shanty town, a saxifrage seedling splitting rocks.

Our assault on Life’s vitality might be unique. Might be the worst ever. Might yet turn our mother’s beating heart to stone. But now kids are learning how to breathe and create in this altered world. Communities are self-organizing to meet needs. An unlikely moderate President is going big and radical. A warp speed vaccine, for all the injustice of who gets it, is bringing life back to our businesses and schools.

Adaptation is what happens when our love outweighs our fear in a world far out of balance

Faith, to matter, is lived. This quest for wisdom through interviewing cultural scouts aims to unfreeze our energy as big changes are upon us, to help us all see more clearly, act more courageously and serve the common good.

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5 Comments

  1. “The huge gut punches that made 2020 a collective trauma are now down in society’s large intestine, heading towards history.” I love this. We certainly have all been digesting a lot this past year.

    Lynn Frair

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