My mother has always lived in a healthy way. Good food, exercise, very few drugs and lots of compassion. Life hasn't always been easy and she hasn't done everything perfectly right, but things seemed to be going well. She never imagined that something could go seriously wrong. And then, two months ago, she was diagnosed with a severe cancer.
In January of this year, around the time my mother heard the bad diagnosis, I read about a virus spreading in China. It seemed far away and I felt it had nothing to do with me. In February I went with my girlfriend to Madrid when the first case of the new coronavirus was detected in the Spanish capital. Still, it seemed pretty irrelevant to my life. I didn't think that it could affect me. A few weeks later, Madrid and the rest of Europe are in lockdown, my Mom is in the high risk group and the world has turned upside down.
Can it get any worse? Oh yes! Just like with the Covid19 situation, the climate crisis is seen by many as unnecessary panic-making too. It's far away, climate activists are called hysterical alarmists and many think it won't really cause them any problems. But just as the virus is growing exponentially right now, the climate problems are growing exponentially as well. And their possible consequences are far worse than what we are experiencing at present with Covid19. That's right, far worse!
I think the real crisis we are facing is a crisis of imagination. It's really difficult to understand exponential growth, what it means when suddenly everything accelerates and spins out of control. Perhaps this current virus crisis can provide some learning. If not, here's a great video by Chris Martenson explaining it: Compounding is the problem
But the crisis of imagination isn't only about our failure of reading early alarm signs and acting accordingly in order to prevent an apocalypse. There's also a lack of being able to imagine something better. How can we create a healthier world if we don't have any vision of a bright future?
Watching TV and Netflix, warming up precooked food and consuming the art of others are all pleasant pastimes, but none of them really help to develop our imagination. They make us ever more passive and don't lead to creative action. So how can we train our imagination? The answer is simple: by using it.
Read a book. Cook a meal. Paint a picture. Play a song. Invent a game. Write a story. Sit in silence.
All of these things allow your mind to expand, instead of keeping it imprisoned. Opening up to new possibilities, instead of holding on to something that is old and broken and won't last anyway. You don't even need to leave the house to do all this, so maybe right now is a good time to start.
And yes, it's a difficult situation. When you're locked up at home, unable to hug or even see your loved ones, watching the collapse of the economy and feeling the threat of uncertainty, what hope is there? Even worse, you see that we continue talking about money the whole time, and as we're sitting in safe houses with enough food and good internet, we let 20,000 refugees rot on a Greek island. No, not because of Covid19 – we've been already doing this all those years when everything seemed fine. We deserve this crisis. We actually deserve much worse.
In the end, the only hope that is left is the very thing that got us into this mess: exponential growth. Racism, cancer, the virus; greed, selfishness and stupidity – they all exploded. But perhaps love can explode too. Perhaps wisdom and solidarity can also grow exponentially. A utopian dream, but a dream nevertheless.
If not now, when?
If not us, who?