The trails opened in Los Angeles last weekend. I purposefully didn’t go Saturday or Sunday because I knew it would be crowded. What is the point of that? Crowds anywhere will undo all the work we have done with the stay-at-home order and social distancing in the last two months.
Then, on Monday I went to Fryman in Laurel Canyon, which is one of my favorite places in the city. It’s my outdoor church. Running is like praying to me, it saves me. My mental health depends heavily on physical activity. After two months of not running, I run up that hill as if my life depends on it because it does. People were out but it wasn't crowded. I was startled to see that only maybe 40% of them were wearing masks, so that means at least 60% were NOT!
I couldn’t believe it. It made me really angry, which I could luckily use as fuel to run even harder. I took my mask down when there was no-one around, but as soon as humans were approaching, I put it back on.
The day before I saw some weird comments on social media about reasons why people choose not to wear masks. One person said he does’t like to wear one at times because it’s hard to read other people’s facial expressions. He would rather die than feel disconnected and not being able to see his friends and families faces. Or you probably have seen the image that showed a woman protesting face masks with a sign saying “My body my choice”.
Your body IS your choice, but what both of these examples are forgetting in their narcissistic self-centeredness is that they put others at risk as well as are perpetuating the situation, and the price all of us have to pay is stay home even longer.
A pandemic isn’t about what suits one's personal feelings. It’s about protecting and caring for others more than your personal gain and complacency. One person's carelessness could be responsible for someone else’s death.
The Question Arises, How Much Is Another Human’s Life Worth To You
This was going through my mind as I was running up that hill. Later in the afternoon I read an article in WIRED with the title 'How Much Is a Human Life Actually Worth?' in context of the US economy reopening amid high numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths. I also heard that Governor Cuomo of New York, asked the same question last week, so I decided to make it this week’s blog post as well. If the writing is on the wall you need to act upon it.
What Does This Have To Do With Sustainability?
Everything because this is exactly the mentality and behavioral pattern that is responsible for the environmental mess, among many others, we have created. How you do one thing is how you do everything. As above so below. Ignoring the consequences of one's behaviour for instant gratification is the same mentality as big corporation mentality "to maximize short term profits".
Take the Amazon for example, which is in the process of being completely destroyed by the tyranny of valuing money more than life itself, and the willingness to cut down an entire rainforest for that matter. To quote Carlos Nobre:
"This is not about protecting the forest simply to please environmentalists. The living forest is essential for the survival of human civilization."
What is nature and a human life worth?
What It Comes Down To
Unlike the WIRED article, this blog post isn't about the economy, which is suffering greatly with every single one of us included, no doubt. There are no easy solutions here. I am not an economist. My place in this is what I can do and what my responsibility is as a citizen, what I can control and what I can contribute. What is my part in the community or in the whole? In this case, what is my part as an Angeleno to my fellow Angelenos or as a Californian to my fellow Californians.
There is still a lot of contradicting information out there and we will only know the full picture when this is all over. Now is not the time for conspiracy theories and who is to blame. Pandemics are not ideological.
Now is the time to deal with the tasks at hand and do our BEST to work together so we can conquer this pandemic rather sooner than later. That means we have to look after each other. This means you have to care for your fellow humans. National and international crises are only won when people work together.
In the meantime I do my best and my part to keep flattening the curve in Los Angeles. Even if I hate running with a mask, I'll do it. Of course I want to go out, see, hug and kiss people. There were times I was afraid of internally dying of loneliness during the lockdown, but these are extreme times that require extreme measures and caution from all of us.
There is so much we have to accomplish as our world and planet are changing in unimaginable and unprecedented ways beyond Covid-19. Can we learn to become more conscious and care more about life itself? Our own, others and the planet's? I guess that's the big test.
This is also what I call sustainable thinking. It touches every area of life. How you do one thing is how you do everything.
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