Isolation is something we are all dealing with. I am not finding it difficult since it isn’t much different from my regular life. I like my home and I love working from home. As long as I can get out and enjoy the outdoors I am fine.
But then the lights went out! Not for five minutes as I’d hoped. No, they just stayed off; my life had changed once again and I needed to adjust.
I’ll go to the coffee shop, plug in my computer, and work there, I thought. And then I remembered everything is closed. These are not ordinary times.
My anxiety level rose as I started to realize how life without electricity was going to be. No computer, no internet, no television, no news. Reading by candlelight would only go so far.
The thought of life without power isn’t something I’ve ever wanted to really consider. When I've randomly fantasized about it, the feelings were too overwhelming and frightening to dwell on.
But then came social isolation, with only essential workers able to do their jobs and the rest of us mandated to work from home or not at all. This is also something I could never have imagined. Yet here we are, all of us, all over the world experiencing this same thing.
All of a sudden the possibility of not having electricity isn’t so ridiculous and, in our new context, the practical me can contemplate it without overwhelm.
There is no question that after COVID-19 the world will change.
I think we have been heading for a big change for a while. We are consumers, but it is the consumption without paying attention to its effects on the world that must change. If there is something good that can come out of the coronavirus pandemic, it may be that we take a deep look at the way we live.
For years we have heard about our social footprint and the impact our activities have on our ecosystem. Being without electricity made me aware of how vulnerable we all are. Our lives are built around getting our needs instantly met by large companies that are there to cater to us. We consume without paying a lot of attention to how our needs are met. Can we change that? Of course. In fact, we, the consumers, are the only ones who can change what and how we purchase.
What would I have to do to insure I have power without the ministrations of a big company? I could get a generator or turn to solar energy and batteries. That would be a start.
What else could I do? I am lucky enough to have a garden, but I haven’t been very focused on growing food. I play at it but I could do more. Not only is it a healthier way to live but it also cuts down on the use of fuel that pollutes the planet.
And then there is our ability to buy anything we want at low, low prices. As tempting as that is, doing so has a huge effect on our environment. The products we buy are made in China or some other country that pays wages far lower than we would pay in the US. This has given us a sense that we can have it all and that having it all has no consequences—but that just isn’t true.
Our actions have consequences, and we need to focus on the effects our consumption has on the world before it is too late.
How does not paying a working wage affect the people making those products? How much energy does it take to ship these products to us? How does that fuel contribute to the pollution of our planet? And what about the packaging our products came in—where is it now? The answer is probably in a floating garbage dump in the ocean somewhere in the Pacific.
When the products we’ve purchased fall apart because they are not well made, where do they go? Into a landfill somewhere.
When we start thinking about the consequences of our actions, it puts a new light on everything we do.
Before this pandemic it was impossible to imagine life without work, without restaurants, without seeing our loved ones or our parents in nursing homes. Even worse, leaving our loved ones at the door of the emergency room to die alone. This is a world we never imagined we would be living in, but here we are.
It is time for us to stop living on automatic and start paying attention to how the actions we take will reverberate around the world. The truth is that because of technology, the world is smaller than it ever was. What we do and how we act will eventually have an impact on us.
There is no need for us to place blame, especially since doing so only distracts us from taking action. What we need to do is look at the lives we are living and pay attention to how our actions will eventually impact us.
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