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Burning Out on a Burning Planet

CW: discussion of COVID-19, eco-anxiety, cancer, and climate catastrophe. mention of r*pe and abuse.


Believe it or not, I started writing this nearly 4 weeks ago.

And now am finishing it in isolation.

Coronavirus has been the word on everyone's lips for nearly a week.

Whole cities, provinces, and countries have ground to a halt, families are living in isolation from one another, and our most vulnerable people are afraid to leave their homes for fear of contracting the virus.

The failures of our global and national systems have never been more self-evident.

The only possible silver lining I can see is that sweeping sociocultural change could be on the other side of this mess.

Once our stress response returns to a natural activation — once the panic and the chaos clears — I hope we will look at this system and want to tear it down.

This system that leaves thousands under threat of eviction for missing a few weeks work, this system that insists on business as usual no matter the cost, that requires people to go to work ill, this system that amplifies feelings of scarcity and greed.

I hope that as the fear dissipates, we will look at this system and know that it is deeply flawed and that it must change.

And then, we will go out into the world and be that change.

Burning Out on a Burning Planet

The world is on fire.

Or flooding, depending where you live.

The United States is descending into fascism in real time.

Indigenous peoples worldwide are being arrested en masse for standing against corporate interests.

Systems of governance in the Western world have moved from covertly corrupt to openly corrupt, and there's almost nothing you can do about it.

Pipelines, plastics, pandemics, and profits are priority one, and anything (or anyone) that gets in the way will be forcibly removed.

This is a snapshot of the world in March of 2020.

The media is unrelenting, apocalyptic, and everywhere.

I would not blame you for turning away, for covering your ears, for blocking out the din.

I would not blame you for considering the enormous task of living as an engaged citizen in the year 2020 and deciding that you cannot shoulder the burden.

But, I ask you, what would you do if you felt like you could do something?

What could we do together as a vast and flexible community?

What would you achieve if you had the tools for resistance and resilience in our hurting world?

What would you say if I told the tools that you need to save the world are the very same tools you need to save yourself?

Social Creatures

Few of you might know that my first academic love was actually sociology. Before I learned about the field of psychophysiology, I did my undergraduate degree in sociology (mostly at Carleton University, for those who might wonder).

I loved the idea that so much of human behaviour could be understood through systems and environments. Not to mention many of the experiments in sociological research seemed to have a playfulness to them!

(Stanley Milgram's early work read like harmless pranks for science. His later work was less harmless but equally as interesting.)

These early academic years focussed on human life in the context of a social environment.