As we head into the late fall and winter we are facing a triple threat. Putting aside issues such as racial injustice, indigenous reconciliation or the housing crisis, we face three threats. Number one is the ongoing COVID-19 crisis which has consumed us and our world this year and currently threatens to careen out of control taking thousands of lives with it. Number 2 is the opioid crisis which this year is responsible for over 1000 deaths in BC alone, far greater than the total number of COVID deaths (currently just over 250). Third is the crisis we have danced around for years, but for which time to address is running out. This is the climate crisis; called an existential crisis, or in other words, something that threatens our very existence. Truly an overwhelming scenario.
So how are we to respond when we are faced with this situation?
First of all, I believe we need to deal with how we respond emotionally to these crises. A common response is to deny that they are even happening and to play the ostrich by sticking our head in the sand. Denial is not unusual, but it prevents us from taking any action. In the case of Covid, action includes adopting the simple tools we are told we can use, such as physical distancing, washing our hands and wearing a mask when indicated to prevent COVID-19. Another emotion commonly experienced is fear. Fear can lead us to recoil to avoid being hurt or made sick., Fear can also lead us to strike out in anger. While these responses may appear to calm us, or to get rid of some emotional energy they seldom lead to any positive change in ourselves, or the situation. We need to be aware of and acknowledge our denial and fear before we can move on with any meaningful action. For me, a more positive response comes through hope. My hope stems from a belief that people are basically good at heart and are doing the best they can with what they’ve been given. My hope also stems from the many positive experiences in my life for which I am very grateful. Gratitude and respect for my fellow human beings inspire me to take positive action, to convey hope and to care for others as we all face these threats.
I like to frame my approach to these threats as a way to care for myself, for others and for the planet. Caring for myself leads me to take actions to stay safe in COVID times. This in turn helps keep others safe as well. Although most of us may not encounter people who are at risk of overdosing on drugs, we can all respond with care when we encounter people in distress for one reason or another. Perhaps one simple kindness we offer to another person may be an experience that will ignite a shift in the course of that person’s life. We never know. Finally, hope inspires me to team up with others to take action to combat climate change. Our planet and all the life forms it supports are at risk. Actions we take over the next few years will determine its future survival. On Denman Island our Climate Action Network will be reconvening shortly so you will be hearing more from us soon. So as always in the words of Bonnie Henry, let us Be Kind, Be Calm and Be Safe.