“In the midst of fear and isolation, we are learning that profound, positive change is possible….
“Disasters begin suddenly and never really end. The future will not, in crucial ways, be anything like the past, even the very recent past of a month or two ago. Our economy, our priorities, our perceptions will not be what they were at the outset of this year. The particulars are startling: companies such as GE and Ford retooling to make ventilators, the scramble for protective gear, once-bustling city streets becoming quiet and empty, the economy in freefall. Things that were supposed to be unstoppable stopped, and things that were supposed to be impossible – extending workers’ rights and benefits, freeing prisoners, moving a few trillion dollars around in the US – have already happened.
“At moments of immense change, we see with new clarity the systems – political, economic, social, ecological – in which we are immersed as they change around us. We see what’s strong, what’s weak, what’s corrupt, what matters and what doesn’t.
“When a storm subsides, the air is washed clean of whatever particulate matter has been obscuring the view, and you can often see farther and more sharply than at any other time. When this storm clears, we may, as do people who have survived a serious illness or accident, see where we were and where we should go in a new light. We may feel free to pursue change in ways that seemed impossible while the ice of the status quo was locked up. We may have a profoundly different sense of ourselves, our communities, our systems of production and our future.
“Seven years ago, Patrisse Cullors wrote a sort of mission statement for Black Lives Matter: “Provide hope and inspiration for collective action to build collective power to achieve collective transformation. Rooted in grief and rage but pointed towards vision and dreams.” It is beautiful not only because it is hopeful, not only because then Black Lives Matter set out and did transformative work, but because it acknowledges that hope can coexist with difficulty and suffering. The sadness in the depths and the fury that burns above are not incompatible with hope, because we are complex creatures, because hope is not optimism that everything will be fine regardless.
“Hope offers us clarity that, amid the uncertainty ahead, there will be conflicts worth joining and the possibility of winning some of them. And one of the things most dangerous to this hope is the lapse into believing that everything was fine before disaster struck, and that all we need to do is return to things as they were. Ordinary life before the pandemic was already a catastrophe of desperation and exclusion for too many human beings, an environmental and climate catastrophe, an obscenity of inequality. It is too soon to know what will emerge from this emergency, but not too soon to start looking for chances to help decide it. It is, I believe, what many of us are preparing to do.”
Read the full story by Rebecca Solnit….
Photo by Peter Scholten on Unsplash