A few days ago I was in my yard with a friend doing some work for us, and I noticed a weird piece of white flesh with bones protruding out at the base of a tree. I poked at it with my finger, as it was fresh and not rancid, and as I did so my eye wandered to spot the rest of the object I was poking at – the spine of a fish, stripped of most of its meat. Eagles! The eagles are close at hand, using our trees as a place to rest after fishing their dinner out of the ocean or perhaps even nesting and feeding their offspring. It’s not uncommon here to be walking in the forest and come across a fish head or spine, and if you know anything about BC forest ecology, it’s long been posited by scientists that bears and birds have played a role in fertilizing our forests with the discards of their dinners. When I see it in action here, I get a little thrill – I really do – because it means that the ecosystem is still working to some degree.
I’ve been thinking about that today as I’ve been cancelling all my union-related travel for the next two months, because the fact that I’m doing it means the social ecosystem I live in is also still working to some degree. I see that despite the individualistic, anti-social messages pumped at us non-stop, most people in my social network, workplace, and community are agreeing to band together, curtail activities, and try to slow the spread of Covid-19. I see that people are circulating petitions to ensure their contractor/artist/freelance friends can access money from the employment insurance system. I see that governments are agreeing to pay people on quarantine, and whole countries are taking on massive financial setbacks in order to keep their citizens safe. Which means we haven’t lost yet. We still have a functioning social contract of some sort, no matter how much the right wing has kicked the crap out of it in the last few years.
This is where I find hope in the midst of the chaos right now. Moment by moment we make choices about how we are going to respond. And at this moment I see people making choices to support their community, health care workers, their families. Of course, there are people hoarding toilet paper, I see that also, but in the annals of human stupidity or cruelty, this is a minor offense.
I have a friend who in relation to climate change says, “as long as spring comes another year, we are still okay.” To which I always agree, and now have my response to her “whenever a bird drops a fish, we know we have not lost yet.”