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Covid-19: The fire on the Titanic

Yesterday (April 22, 2020) was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. On this date in 1970, an estimated 10% of America's population (1 out of every ten people!) took to the streets, college campuses and hundreds of cities to protest environmental ignorance and demand a new way forward for our planet. It is thought that that day, half a century ago was significant in catalysing the modern environmental movement.

The theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate change.

This got me wondering. Why, 50 years later, are we still trying to get people to care for, and make wise long term decisions/societies/communities for, the world we all live in? Why does it seem so hard for us to make the big calls, to make big adjustments (individually and corporately) so that we see the change we desperately all need?

I wonder what impact Covid-19 will have on us. I wonder if this will help us to consider the fragility of human life, and reconsider the extent we'll be willing to go to protect the vulnerable in our world, and to rethink how vulnerable we all are in some way.

Idris Alba, having survived having Covid-19, says that he feels 'humbled to be alive' and that he now considers the fragility of life in new ways.

This Financial Times article caught my attention with its striking comments from French president Emmanuel Macron. Below are various quotations from the article:

Unlike other world leaders, from Donald Trump in the US to Xi Jinping in China, who are trying to return their countries to where they were before the pandemic,Mr Macron says he sees the crisis as an existential event for humanity that will change the nature of globalisation and the structure of international capitalism. ... “We all face the profound need to invent something new, because that is all we can do,” ... he wants to use a cataclysm that has prompted governments to prioritise human lives over economic growth as an opening to tackle environmental disasters and social inequalities that he says were already threatening the stability of the world order. ... But he does not hide his concern that the opposite could happen, and that border closures, economic disruption and loss of confidence in democracy will strengthen the hand of authoritarians and populists who have tried to exploit the crisis, from Hungary to Brazil. Covid-19 might offer an opportunity to make the case that he is trying to humanise capitalism. That includes, in his view, putting an end to a “hyper-financialised” world, greater efforts to save the planet from the ravages of global warming
..."remaining available to try and comprehend what seemed unthinkable.”

I heard an analogy recently:

If there's a fire on the Titanic, you certainly want to deal with the fire, while, at the same time, never ignoring the ice-berg ahead.

In the midst of Covid-19 and all it's implications, I wonder if this will make us more willing to engage big, hard conversations for the sake of God's whole created world. I wonder if we, in the 'west', will realise we're not as invulnerable as we might have thought in the past. I wonder if we'll see human lives are more important than GDP percentage growth. I wonder if we'll be more willing to work together, even at personal cost, for global gain.

May we have the courage and the wisdom to deal with the fire on the Titanic as well as changing our course to avoid the ice-berg ahead.


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