Saturday, December 19, 2020
The seismic events of the year 2020 will no doubt reverberate for years to come. Other than the pandemic and the societal uprisings, a third thing I think we can learn from is leadership. Here are some take-aways:
- It has been said that we get the leaders we deserve. The last four years in the US have shown us the ugly side of our country, almost in a caricatured manner. Yes, we need to heal the ugly face of racism. We need to support the underserved in our society and not blame the victims. We need to look at how we value our environment. We need to value science and not engage in magical thinking. We need to treat each others are equals and not perpetuate rankism and elitism. We need to be mindful that words have consequences.
- When I look at how the common people in our country and other countries have banded together to stand up and say "No more!" I am moved and inspired. Two images come to mind. First, elected leaders are like the large game animals in wild areas. What prompts them to move? The common grass. Be like the succulent, green grass and entice our leaders to move in your direction.
- The second image comes from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Have you ever seen it? The highlight is the large balloons of cartoon characters being led along the parade path, seemingly squeezed between the huge skyscrapers. The balloons are like elected leaders. Who leads these balloons? Just common people, holding the balloons by ropes and walking along the parade route. Be the rope-holder, and keep walking.
Saturday, December 12, 2020
The year 2020 will be remembered for so many things. Last week we talked about the lessons of the pandemic. Another giant event in this year was the eruption of protests against historical and systemic prejudice. We've seen marches against police brutality, against governmental corruption, against racial disparities, against sexual predation, among others. What is to be learned from this?
- We cannot ignore historically underserved communities and not expect some sort of backlash. How we treat others, or allow our societies to treat them, will someday affect ourselves.
- Our police have forgotten how to relate to others as fellow humans and fallen into the trap of becoming tools of armament vendors. What happened to the neighborhood cop that everyone knew?
- Our police have also been asked to play too many roles -- peace-keeper, social worker, psychologist, addictions counselor and so on -- and are asked to do so in places where people are heavily armed, mentally unbalanced, or desperate. Our societies need to get back to providing social funding to help support the poor, the emotionally distraught, those with mental illness, and those with addictions. If we fund people first, the police can get back to serving as peace-keepers.
- Sub-groups in our societies will no longer be kept down. The power of these marches show that it will no longer be acceptable to discriminate against any group that is not part of the ruling class. There is power in the unity of resistance.
Saturday, December 5, 2020
No doubt the year 2020 will be analyzed, written about, cursed and eulogized over the coming months and years. We will all agree it's been a year quite unlike any other! While I don't pretend to be comprehensive in what I think humanity could learn from this year, I'll look back with 20/20 vision and list some things I think are important.
Of course, the most important event of 2020 was the novel coronavirus and its related disease, COVID-19. It has affected everyone in various ways. Here are some lessons we can list:
- This virus has touched the lives of everyone on the planet. What else can you say did the same?
- It has taught us that the greatest sign of love is to be apart from each other, as difficult as that may be, in order to keep each other safe.
- Being apart from each other has taught us about the value of relationships, how technology has become so indispensable in staying in touch with each other, and the value of real communication, from the heart.
- The virus is largely spread through the air, through the droplets spread from unmasked talking or breathing. It is invisible. In this way it mimics words, whether spoken or written, in how they can affect others. Are our words filtered with some sense of empathy and kindness, or are they unmasked with venom? Words affect others just as much as virus cells do.
- It has shown that the virus can strike anyone, regardless of wealth or status, but it tends to affect those who have been historically marginalized in a more serious manner. The cracks in our health care and societal support systems have been laid bare with this pandemic.
- It has taught us the value of science and objective study. Hopefully, people will come to learn that conspiracies and politicization are potentially harmful, and that well-regarded, well-researched news media are the best sources for action.
- It has taught us to be grateful for the little things -- a beautiful sunset, the gleam of a water droplet on a flower, the warmth of a pet on your lap, the smile from a loved one's face via Zoom.