This morning begins the same as March 14; I’m watching the reflection of the sunrise in the leaves and branches of the laurel oak tree.
These days, there are more cars out on the roads and fewer people walk the neighborhood paths. I remain, however, hunkered down because each time I weigh the consequences of doing things as I’d done vs. not doing anything at all, I come down on the side of stillness. At this moment, in my estimation, staying still is both a luxury and a service and a determination I’m curious to know if, how many, and for how long others’ have calculated the same.
This is the point in the crisis where clear thinking leaders are supposed to articulate a way forward. That is not going to happen. What, I think, is actually happening is that masses of people are desperate for things to return to normal and are thus thoughtlessly moving in that direction. But, normal is over. The ground has, globally, shifted under our feet.
Two friends and I were talking last night in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. It was clear that we, immigrants all, Latino and Asian and Black, have always had the ground shift under our feet for various reasons. Normal never really is a thing for us. There have always been unknowns and tricks, dangers and threats. We’ve managed our individual terrain differently to one another, but thoughtful awareness, solid reads of our situations, and tenacity seem to have kept the three of us steady.
I offer suggestions on ways forward:
- Think in terms of being connected to people not systems;
- Test ideas from multiple perspectives;
- Live with ideas for a long, long time before laying claim to them;
- Identify and challenge the values that hold together systems and groups of people;
- Be honest about feelings and desires;
- Extrapolate worst-case and best-case scenarios seven years back and seven years forward;
- If this time feels like an opportunity to take stock of and shore up material and intangible resources, act accordingly;
- If this time feels like a massive obstacle to carefully crafted plans, decide what moving ahead under these circumstances really requires;
- If this time has rendered plans obsolete, mourn;
- Acknowledge the futility and meaninglessness of most things;
- Respect life and living;
- Recognize — really understand — that things did not have to go down like this at all;
- Make and enact a plan to participate in civic life.