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Reflections from the SwampEnd Times or New Year?

End Times or New Year?

Reflections from the Swamp
Richard van Duyvendyk

Dear Reader

Happy New Year

I hope you had a joyful Christmas with friends or family. This latest spread of Covid seems unbeatable, but it’s not. We managed to see most of our family after taking rapid tests and maintaining, for the most part, some social distancing. We are both triple-vaccinated. What else can we do?

We, humans, are, by nature, social creatures. When isolated for long periods, we can become depressed and develop thoughts that aren’t realistic or true. A good friend can usually challenge us and our beliefs. We need to keep in contact with humanity. Social media can be helpful but is fraught with delusionary thoughts as well. We made a point of visiting with friends outdoors around a fire to reduce the risks of Covid. We have embraced winter rather than retreating to our warm lair until spring. We found some people who are socially isolated and keep in regular contact with them.

Here we are again, entering a new year that looks remarkably like it did a year ago. We’re alive every day, yet we think about a better day or year tomorrow. Today is an excellent time to start living fully every day. When you’re young, your hourglass looks full. It seems to drain slowly; often, you can hardly notice it. When your hourglass is more than half empty, time seems to whiz by at an accelerated rate. A lot of events in life seem to pass us by. Are these crisis events such as Covid a part of our lives, or are they just background noise?

I recently met someone who believes that we live in the end times. They point to Biblical texts that ‘prove’ that these are the end times. I’ve heard end-time stories for most of my life. All I know for sure is that each day passing brings me closer to my end time. The hourglass is dropping sand at a steady rate. Most of my life’s sand is resting in the bottom half of the bottle. I resent Covid for restricting my seeing friends and grandchildren or travelling. Like the rest of us, I’m forced to adjust and adapt to the changing times.

I don’t believe that the world will end at one time like in the movies where an asteroid or aliens threaten to destroy us all. However, traumatic events are happening locally. Extreme cold weather events in the west, record snowfalls in BC, and fires in Colorado are all local events related to climate change. Crisis at a local level is the pattern of the future. As always, the poor suffer the most during a crisis.

People tend to care more about what is happening in the world if it is happening to them. We tend not to care about the whole world, but we do care about our part of the world. Although we are wired to think about the future in planting crops, we aren’t good at looking to a future twenty years ahead. Our elected politicians have about four years before they have to convince us to vote for them again. This short-term outlook does not bode well for long-term planning.

I believe that Covid and Climate Change are not like asteroids or aliens. We need to have long-term plans that best deal with these realities.

Over half of our hospital beds are filled with people who don’t have vaccinations. Vaccinations reduce the severity of Covid symptoms. Although some people can’t vaccinate for health reasons, health workers can vaccinate most of us. This failure to vaccinate has to change to allow other sick patients a chance to get surgeries. People with cancer have their surgeries postponed because beds are filling with Covid patients.

Similarly, carbon emissions keep increasing because we collectively don’t make reduction a serious goal. Life’s events are forcing us to think more globally. What will future generations think of our actions and inactions?

We genuinely do have choices and responsibilities. The problem is that we can’t or won’t acknowledge how our tiny individual actions contribute to sweeping global events.

At this time of year, many of us make resolutions that we don’t keep for long. Let’s resolve to do whatever little part we can to free up beds in hospitals for those waiting for surgery or care. We can get vaccinated and practice social distancing. Small actions make a difference. Let’s try to do some small things for the planet. Feeding the birds, removing evasive species such as wild parsley, or educating others to appreciate and protect nature come to mind.

We’re all on this planet together; we are all interconnected, all part of the gift of life. We can make a difference. It’s a small world, after all.

We are not living in the end times; we live at the dawn of a new year. Look out for those who are having a hard time with Covid. We will again tutor some of our grandchildren who don’t do well with online learning. Most parents will need a break soon. Some vulnerable seniors will need help getting groceries. We’re all in this together.

(Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash)

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