This is it
The climate of coronavirus
Friends, this is it. This is what we have always been heading towards, what we have been waiting for, and what we have been trying to avoid. There’s no going back and no escaping it. I still catch myself thinking about “when things go back to normal.” I suspect I will labour under that fantastical way of thinking for as long as it offers some comfort. But there is no such thing as ‘normal’ to return to — there never was. There is definitely no ‘normal’ to which it would be worth returning. ‘Normal’ was always a death sentence for the vast majority of people on this planet.
Now with covid-19, there is nowhere to hide. Every decision you’re making is shaped by the restrictions it imposes. Every sentence you utter is inflected by the anxiety it induces. Trapped in our homes and on our phones, there’s nowhere to escape to. As we’re already used to saying, there is no planet b. Just this desperately sick one. A lot of old clichés like that, which maybe seemed abstract before, suddenly seem very relevant and very real. Both the good and the bad.
Those of us who have spent months, years or decades looking at the system-crisis from one angle or another — my own lens has been climate change — might have a slight head start in making sense of this moment. Not that there’s any solace in being ahead of the curve. “I told you so” is not a cure for anything — coronavirus or climate chaos. We demanded ‘system change not climate change’. Now we’re going to see a system change, come what may.
Crises are always ignored by those who see themselves as safe. Crises are always felt along familiar fault lines, with new trauma compounding the old. Another old cliché comes to mind — that in crisis is opportunity. Mostly for the pimps of misery, the parasitic class. But also for everyone who holds in their heart the hope of living in a just and caring society. This is our moment, too.
At the end of many stories there’s a big reveal. The last book of the New Testament is the Book of Revelation. Apocalypse means to uncover or reveal. What is being revealed now is that the systems which determine how we live our lives — capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, ableism etc — are murderous. Of course, everyone on the receiving end of the violent indignities of these systems already knew this.
Everything that these systems have tried to convince us is important or desirable or necessary has been exposed as pointless. Nothing fucking matters — not the stock market nor the election promises nor the bullshit social norms to which we so strictly adhered. You don’t need to pay your rent. Nobody who is in jail need be there. Most of our jobs serve no good purpose. Efficiency and productivity are far less important than kindness and wellbeing, if they’re even important at all.
Everything we’ve always been fighting for now looms into view. We just have to reach out and grab it. We can feed, clothe, house, and provide for everyone on earth. We can do it with dignity and without destroying the earth. But we can only do it if we act in solidarity. We can only do it if we overthrow the current order, the profit logic, the unnatural greed we have come to accept as ‘normal’. Free your minds, friends. The rest will follow. There are no limits now, only raw potential. The rules of engagement have changed.
From one moment to the next the once impossible and unthinkable becomes fact. Because it was never impossible in the first place. Turns out we have been living in a cruel world under the lie that it was necessary. But if it wasn’t clear before, it certainly is now: the emperor has no clothes. They have no ideas, no plan, and no heart to help anyone but themselves.
The truth is now laid bare. People have power. There is strength in community. It will indeed be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of god. We are interdependent and live not only for ourselves but for each other. We know what we want, what we need, how to get it. Now let our dreams be our demands. Never again can we tolerate the suffering that ‘normal’ wrought. We have a world to win. We always did.
Take care of yourselves and each other. Nothing will ever be the same.