The love and interconnectedness that is awakening and being expressed – selfless acts of kindness, neighbors helping each other, local self-reliance, community mutual aid groups — are the seeds of another possible future. Yet, heartening as they are, it is critical that they be up-leveled to encompass the systemic dimension as well as personal and local expressions. We must understand the default scenario, the trajectory in which we’re now headed, if we don’t radically change our systems and the values that underlie them. The crisis is awakening a change in values, as we’re called to an awareness of our interdependence more than ever before: that individualistic self-seeking doesn’t serve us anymore, that we are all in this together. But this spirit of interconnection must also be translated into large-scale, deep-rooted changes at the systemic levels: a whole-scale transformation to an equitable, just and regenerative system; the spirit of love expressed in our consciousness, actions and world.
In addition to igniting our capacities for love and caring, there are two other positives coming out of this crisis – heralds of what is possible. First, the Earth has been given a rest from our relentless assaults on her, with immediate, positive effects. Carbon emissions and pollution have been sharply reduced, animals are returning to public squares, birds are singing, waters are clearing, the sky is turning blue. This proves that nature can regenerate quickly if we just change our ways. And this is very good news. It is only business-as-usual that has guaranteed our demise through climate change and ecological collapse; if we don’t go back to business-as-usual, the Earth knows how to regenerate, for her sake and our own. She is offering us a second chance, even at this late stage, holding out a peace sign. It is up to us to take it.
The third positive sign coming out of this is that now we know our governments too can make radical, swift and massive changes when they want to, virtually overnight. There is no more excuse that rapid systems-change is not possible – we have seen how quickly and decisively governments can act when they have the will to. They have not done so for climate change and our other impending eco-collapses only because they did not perceive it as in their interests. But it is in all of our interests to save our dying planet, to reverse the destruction of nature’s balance that is now impacting all of us. This crisis has made it clearer than ever – no one is exempt from this virus, even the richest amongst us.
Thus, the Overton window has slid open in both directions – either a greater consolidation of power of the global elites, leading to further breakdown and lockdown, a normalization of martial law; or a breakthrough moving forward to a world of cooperation, community, of social justice and love. Which will become the new normal? It is up to us. If we can connect the dots of the positive potentials emerging – the awakening of love and interconnectedness; the regenerative power of nature; the potential of governments to act fast for radical change – we have a potent, fertile basis to bring in a beautiful future – but only if we come together and act before it is too late. Before this last window of opportunity is shut to us forever.
The depth and breadth of this challenge need not be overwhelming, but invigorating and renewing, if we come together and support each other. It is calling out the best in us, a collective heroism, from the depths of our hearts. In a crisis we discover what has always been true but we hadn’t had time to notice: that it is love and caring – more than anything money can buy, more than all our possessions — that we all want to receive and that we all want to express.
Crisis offers opportunity, throwing everything into disruption but also an opening and awakening; a Phoenix can rise from the ashes. Let’s do everything to get this vision out there, so that we – we the people, for the sake of our very survival and that of our precious planet — are making conscious, big-picture decisions about our future, taking our fate in our hands. It will go either one way or the other – a Fortress society of martial law controlling our bodies and movements from birth to death, crushing human rights and life itself — or a just, loving, caring world, a reverence for the sacred on this Earth and beyond. This choice is a very simple one, but also a fatefully urgent one: our life and death literally hang upon it.
Such a vision may have once been an alternative or counter-cultural one: now it vitally needs to go mainstream, because our whole culture depends on it. It is up to us who understand this to get it out there, to the general public. And the extremity of the situation now, laying bare the flaws of our systems that are now themselves in their death throes, may make many receptive who were not before.
It is not a question of “will this happen or that?” – it is us, by our actions or inaction, that determine what will happen in the future. These actions start with getting the biggest possible picture of what is happening now, what our alternative trajectories are; and sharing these pro-active perspectives with whomever we can, in our daily conversations and the social media. Expanding the scope of our awareness and possibilities, helping to share that awareness, and building on those positive potentials with others.
This means understanding the default trajectory (devastating people and planet); choosing the trajectory we want (serving people and planet); and getting together with others to put it into action. A big part of this is helping others see what is in our own interests, which is being revealed more clearly than ever now — love, caring, cooperation, simplicity, community – not only in our local actions but our collective systems. Only this can save us.
No, we can’t go back to normal. Business-as-usual would be our death-knell, one that tolls far sooner than we think. So we have no choice but to go forward… and a way is clearing for us, if we have the eyes to see. We need to enter the eye of the storm, and at the eye of the storm is…each other, our oneness with all being. At the heart of the darkness, we find each other’s hearts – one Heart at the core of all life. We are all in this together. It is this, the love that lives in the heart of our being, that alone can light our way now.
Albert Einstein, in a secret letter he requested be held back until the world was ready to hear it, wrote: ‘There is an extremely powerful force that includes and governs all others…This universal force is love…Love is light, that enlightens those who give and receive it…love is power, because it multiplies the best we have and allows humanity not to be extinguished in their blind selfishness…Love is the most powerful force there is, because it has no limits… After the failure of humanity in the use and control of the other forces in the universe that have turned against us, it is urgent that we nourish ourselves with another kind of energy. If we want our species to survive, if we are to find meaning in life, if we want to save the world and every sentient being that inhabits it, love is the one and only answer.”[i]
Things will not go back to normal. The question is — What choice do we want going forward? And who will make the choices? We – the people, for our own sake and that of our sacred planet — must actively choose to be the ones who are making the choices, and then come together and act. For the sake of all life — now, and for all time to come. In fact there is no other choice. The whole of life on Earth is at stake. There is no other alternative. Love is the only answer.
This is an edited and abridged version of “There is No Going Back to Normal – Which Way Do We Choose Going Forward?” by Kavita Byrd, published on Medium.com, April 18, 2020.