The title of this essay comes from a heartbreaking three-minute film made by a teenage girl, Liv McNeil. Simply yet precisely crafted, it documents the withering of a teenager’s life in the time of Covid lockdown. The camera lingers over photographs of her having fun with her friends. Then onto her computer screen, her assignments, scrolling, scrolling… her life now held in a box. And then scores of still shots of herself sitting on her bed, day after day, trying to stay upbeat as her patience gradually gives way to numbness.
I shared the video with a close friend who related a similar story about her own teenage daughter, whom I’ll call Sarah. A vivacious, spirited, outgoing girl, who was often outdoors and rarely looked at screens, she “wilted like a flower cut off at the roots,” becoming sad and listless. Fortunately, my friend, who is relatively wealthy, found Sarah an opportunity to work with horses and life came back to her.
I am happy for Sarah, but what of all the less lucky ones spending endless hours in their bedrooms, motionless, staring at the screen, socializing in but two dimensions, starving for the society of their friends? No more sleepovers, no more choir, no more theater, no more sports, no more parties, no more outings, no more dances, no more summer camp, no more band practice…
Before I go on, let me pause to give voice to what many readers must be thinking: “Quit your over-privileged complaining! What is the sacrifice of play and sociality compared to saving lives?”
I agree that protecting people’s health is important, yet its value must stand alongside other values. To see that it is a relative and not an absolute value, consider a hypothetical extreme in which we could save one life by locking down all society for a year. I don’t think many people would agree to that. On the other extreme, imagine we were faced with a plague with a 90% mortality rate. In that case, few would resist the most stringent lockdown measures. Covid-19 is obviously somewhere in between.
In modern society, saving lives is a paramount value. (Actually the term is a misnomer – there is no such thing as saving a life, since we are mortal and will all one day die. Therefore let us use a more accurate phrase: postponing deaths.) Much of public discourse, from healthcare to foreign policy, revolves around safety, security, and risk. Covid-19 policy also centers on how to prevent as many deaths as possible and how to keep people safe. Values such as the immeasurable benefits of children’s play, of singing or dancing together, of physical touch and human togetherness are not part of the calculations. Why?
One reason is simply that these immeasurables elude calculation, and therefore fit poorly into a policy-making process that prides itself of being scientific; i.e., quantitative, based on the numbers. But I think there is a deeper reason, rooted in modern civilization’s conception of who we are and why we are here. What is the purpose of life? What is it, even, to be alive?
I have written in an earlier essay about the mania for safety, the denial of death, the glorification of youth, and the all-encompassing program of control that has engulfed our society. Here I will state a simple truth: There is more to living than merely staying alive. We are here to live life, not just survive life. That would be obvious if the certainty of death were integrated into our psychology, but in modern society, sadly, it is not. We hide death away. We live in a pretense of permanence. Seeking the impossible – the infinite postponement of death – we fail to fully live life.
We are not the discrete, separate individuals that modernity narrates to us. We are interconnected. We are inter-existent. We are relationship. To live fully means to relate fully. Covid-19 is a further step in a long trend of disconnection from community, from nature, and from place. With each step of disconnection, although we may survive as separate selves, we become less and less alive. The young and the old are especially sensitive to this disconnection. We see them shrivel like fruit in a drought. As a psychiatrist friend recently wrote to me, “Among the elderly, the fallout has been truly disastrous. Being quarantined in the room and isolated from family is causing massive amounts of invisible suffering and decline, as well as deaths. I can’t tell you how many anguished family members have told me that it’s not Covid that is killing their loved one — it’s the restrictions.”
I am not advocating that sociality become a new absolutism to replace death postponement as the overriding determinant of public policy. I just want it to be prominent in the conversation. I want to enshrine it as a sacred value. A full social life is not some privileged add-on to the meeting of measurable physical needs, it is a basic human right and a basic human necessity. This is not just a “white” problem either; if anything, isolation afflicts the poor even more than the affluent, since the poor have less access to the technological substitutes – pallid though they are – for in-person community. Furthermore, what right have we to say that the degree of suffering is less from loneliness than it is from hunger or disease? When it drives people to stop eating, to loll listlessly day after day, even to attempt suicide, it is profound suffering indeed.
The final irony is that in the end, a policy based on minimizing deaths won’t even achieve that. Life withers in isolation. This is true on a biological level, as we require ongoing intercourse with the world of microbes and, yes, viruses, to maintain bodily equilibrium. It is true as well on the social level: one prominent meta-analytic review concluded that social isolation, loneliness, and living alone, cause an average of 29%, 26%, and 32% increased likelihood of mortality, respectively. That’s roughly the same risk level as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or habitual excessive drinking. But I have not seen our politicians or medical authorities including such considerations in their epidemiologically informed policy decisions.
But that isn’t what I am protesting here. Even if this ironic failure weren’t true, even if we could postpone death forever by isolating each person in a bubble, it still wouldn’t be worth it. I know that when I watch “Numb.” I know that when I see my own children doing their best to cope in a socially impoverished landscape, when my older sons speak of loneliness, apathy, and depression; when my 15-year-old sees his friends through screens or, very occasionally, through masks and six feet apart; when my youngest begs constantly for a “play date.” What are we doing to our children? Will no one stand up for the value of a game of tag? A gaggle of kids piling all over each other? I can’t put a number on the value of these compared to postponing X number of deaths. I just know that they are far more important than society has made them.
Some might say, this is only temporary, life will go back to normal as soon as we have a vaccine. Well, even ardent vaccine proponents like Bill Gates are saying that these vaccines will offer only temporary protection. Besides, there may be new mutations, new influenza pandemics, or some other disease. As long as we hold death postponement as our highest priority, there will always be reasons to keep the children locked down. We are today setting a precedent and establishing what is normal and acceptable.
While most people don’t have access to a horse farm internship, the basic principle is widely practicable. It is the principle of reconnection. The migration of childhood onto screens and the indoors did not start with Covid, nor did the rise of childhood depression, anxiety, and other disorders. In particular, the disabled and neurodiverse have often lived with the degree of isolation children (and the rest of us) are experiencing en masse. Now we have a wake-up call to reverse this trend both in our parenting and in our public policy – to revalue play, outdoors, connection to place, interaction with nature, and community gathering.
Many people have died or suffered permanent impairment from Covid-19. I offer my sincere condolences to them and their families. And I would like also to offer my condolences to the young people for the lost months of play, friendship, and gathering. It is not supposed to be this way, certainly not for long. These are not conditions suitable for your thriving; if you feel confined, listless, or depressed, it is not your fault. My heart goes out to you. But our sympathies are not enough. It is up to us adults to see the suffering that Liv McNeil has helped make visible, bring it into the public conversation, and do something about it. There is more to parenting than keeping our children safe.
Thanks for the shout out for the film, Charles. It makes a powerful statement.
And I wholeheartedly agree: We are here to live life, not just survive life.
I want to thank you Charles for your voice throughout this debacle. Your words have provided me comfort in knowing that I am not alone in the questions I continually ask myself. I appreciate your honesty and courage to bring forth these issues when it seems as if everybody is operating under some code of silence; that there is some inherent danger if you speak aloud your questioning. My code word for safe talk with fellow travelers is, “have you read The Coronation by Charles Eisenstein?” And if they seem confused, I direct people to your website as you have been so articulate, eloquent and thoughtful. Thank you.
Beautiful essay, Charles,
Perhaps we are being returned to my great grand parents’ day where disease was always in the background ready to take lives, but life went on. For instance the only treatment for pneumonia was rest and nutrition. My educated great grandmother despite being married to a educated prosperous farmer, living in a comfortable house with phone, electric lights, indoor plumbing, clean water, central heat, good food, having access to medical care, lost three of her seven children before the age of two around 1905.
Another damage being done to our society is the huge loss of small businesses reducing the diversity and richness of our society. Will all those unemployed people have to work in Starbucks, Amazon, Walmart, Target and McDonalds instead?
And I also think more shock is coming our way, my guess in the economic/financial/money realm. Well, from my reading of history, to my dismay, sooner or later prophets of doom are
vindicated. The USA considering what can happen to a country (look at Russian history from 1910-1950) has had a smooth ride in many ways.
thank you, that video rocked me. i would add that taking risks are necessary to our growth and it appears to me that the risk of sickness or death is low enough with COVID-19. furthermore, schools already sucked the life out of kids and now moving their excessive curriculums online is simply unacceptable. i am pushing my kids to dropout and homeschool. their only assignment will be to follow their bliss. perhaps they’ll have to find it again first…
d marshall says
While I agree that we need to find a balance between merely staying alive and the quality of that life, this article sets up something of a straw man. That is, the US does not have a policy of minimizing death– rather, its policy is to minimize losses in the stock market, and to the extent that the stock market is affected, in the economy. That means sending children back to school and “essential workers” (many low income and people of color) back to work, all with little or no attention given to health and safety. Unfortunately, neither the quality nor the sanctity of human life is something the present government cares much about.
Nicole Anderson says
Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is powerful and true. No one speaks of the pain and suffering that is immeasurable. Cases and deaths are easy to monitor, human well-being, not so much. Our safety crazy world has taken a step so far, I fear we will remain in it, and it is the children I feel for the most. The empty playgrounds, school yards, basements where sleepovers should be happening. The lack of touch, piggy back rides, and tackles. The pain of nothing but a screen to enable connection. Schooling canceled. How will they learn to build a world if they can’t play in that world? When do we say, enough is enough, we’re willing to risk sickness and death in order to live. Wasn’t that always the deal? To be in the body is to be vulnerable to death, but also open to life. Thank you for reminding us of that.
Yes, and thankfully many families are hugging, connecting, socializing and building community. A friend said maybe we are the ones preserving the art of human connection for the new world to come. It takes courage and intelligence to resist. But there are pockets, hopefully, a little bit everywhere doing just that.
Thank you, Charles. I really need to hear someone else, besides me, saying this. I am not insensitive to the suffering of people with Covid or those who’ve lost a family member to this disease, but I’d still like us to realize that following a public policy which focuses narrowly on keeping the public safe from Covid, doesn’t address the full picture of what makes us healthy as individuals and as societies.
What should we do? What can we do? I say that full of hope that we can work together to show our children that we understand and that we are making efforts to challenge this dreadful omission of the valuing of childhood. As this is having a huge impact, and will continue to do so.
I’ve wrestled with this all the way through this madness (lockdown) and I’m still struggling with it. In fact I’m really glad you raise this, again.
I feel more than a bit numb myself. As a single parent, with a solo young child I’m struggling to be his playmate all of the time. Struggling to soothe his frustration, his boredom, his anxiety at times, his anger at what he himself calls the madness.
Here in Scotland some restrictions have ‘eased’. That makes me laugh (or cry depending on the day!) but the little nuggets of freedom granted to us are tainted by the fact that so many places are still closed, that mask wearing is compulsory on public transport, in shops, on entering a cafe.. My son, at five years old should technically be wearing a mask (by law!!) He refuses point blank, quite rightly, and he has told me that he would rather not go into any place if I have to wear a mask. I’ve done it twice and he gets so upset. So our world is still very small, very insular, very vulnerable. Thank goodness we have a good relationship. But really, it’s just too much to ask of children to understand and accept this situation. In fact it’s totally unethical and unhealthy.
We are now ‘allowed’ to go to parks, and children under 11 (???) are safe to not practice ‘social distancing’ (I can’t stand that phrase) however, their parents have to. And we are advised not to go to parks or beaches that are busy!! As if they’d be deserted after months of incarceration.. Luckily I have two friends with children who have visited us. But frankly it’s just all just surreal.
August looms.. almost five months of being cut off from community and spontaneity. And we are staring autumn then winter in the face. The headlines here say that ‘we should be back to normal by the middle of next year’ Next year!! That drives me crazy even typing that..
I’m not a fan of normal. But when I think of my son and I living this completely unacceptably strange way until next year I feel desperate. And desperately incompetent. How do I stand up for my sons rights?? Or for my own rights to have the support of community, to be able to parent in the best way I can?? The carer needs to be cared for as well, as Stephen Jenkinson poignantly pointed out recently.
We are privileged to have a lovely home, a garden, nature on our doorstep. Myself and my son give huge thanks for that, daily. But we are aware of the huge emotional, spiritual and physical deficit in our lives, how could we not be. We used to only very, very occasionally watch a film or the like, usually in winter. But I’m deeply upset and sad to say that I have resorted to the screen for ‘company’ and for ‘adventure’ for my son. Searching for meaningful cinema, documentaries etc but I am fully aware of this ultimately being a soulless substitution, for any really enriching experience with others. We walk daily, we play, we cook together, we chat loads.. but.. but.. but.. I need more, so I fully understand why the children also need more.
What can WE do? How can WE come together to verbalise and support our children’s voices? Where do we go from here? I do all that I can to stay balanced, sane, grounded an present for my son. But my heart is heavy and my bones are tired when I think of the reality that we are living (or the prospect of this continuing.. which isn’t a fear based thought)
Let’s connect and raise our voices, elevate this dilemma to the level of recognition it deserves.
Sending lots of love and gratitude to you and your family. Love, Tracey x
I wish I had a suggestion here. I love your horse farm idea and not many have that privilege.
I am 70 and I had COVID. Thank goodness I have a deep background in natural health and I got the mild form. And I am pretty sure I got it in chiropactor’s office who refused to mask and so I checked my area’s COVID rules and learned that indeed people doing that kind of work are to be masked and I was told to ask local police for help and the cop on the phone was quite nasty but said she would send someone.
When I went for my next visit upon leaving I was met by a roomful of unmasked off duty cops and then I learned what I will call “deniers” have an alerting system done by text. I got the hell out of there. A week later I was ill. Again I am blessed I know natural health and have my own apothecary. I would not wish this on anyone young or old.
What comes to mind is that we have much more going on here than COVID and that is we have society that is being constantly inflamed by hate and false info. Trust is gone. Hate rules out love and care.
My heart goes out to us all and because we do not have civility we are in the top countries for the illness; much evidence suggests that if we had taken it seriously at the beginning we would be almost home. IF civility and really getting what Zach Bush says about community were present, I would have hope. We instead for this moment have a very un-civilized country that attacks and pounces on the weakest and the less than white.
I watch an PhD who has worked world wide with emergency medicine. He is out of the UK and he is astounded at how the US is behaving. Today he named a congressman who refuses a mask and is ill and calls it “the Wuhan flu” as has been modeld by our current president. We have rampant “super spreaders.” I may have met some in that chiropractors office.
What is really sick is these kids who have so little value for life, who I am sure have authority issues and abouse issues intentionally put on COVID parties and maybe they do us a service as they sacrifice themselves or others we wake up a bit more.
Many countries have been civil, communally aware and “flattened the curve” and have re-opened at least partially. It breaks my heart to not live in a country of civility able to engage and work things out reasonably. That is what I see as the big lack in your piece. What might we create if we lived in a country of compassion and mutual respect?
I find myself shocked that you, Charles, cannot see deeper here and blame us for wanting to feel safe in our homes and country. NOBODY except perhaps the current regime, wants to keep us and especially children “locked” down. I suggest you look at Germany, Japan and more, who are learning to be responsive to flares. Even Sweden is now self isolating when it is called for. I live in Senior housing and we all watch out for each other and in spite of all we do mingle.
I for one will not take a vaccine. I understand how they work and how they have to be constantly changed due to mutation. That MONEY that should be going to FAMILIES is being spent this way instead of helping the PEOPLE THRIVE and perhaps get to that horse farm or as a friend did with his family, that trout stream, is much more the issue to me. Again it is not COVID as much as it is the CULTURE that we live in, a culture who eats poorly, does not reflect nor respect community and DIVERSITY. I am getting inflamed so I will stop.
I say it is NOT just a virus, a virus that has actually taught us a great deal about interconnection. It is our refusal to accept that connectedness and our love for our neighbors and the earth. It is not COVID it is HOW WE ARE with COVID that I see as a challenge for our hearts and souls.
BTW I spent two summers with Joanna Macy doing “Deep Ecology.” We were called Nazis for suggesting healthy lifestyles. At that time Joanna and a co-author published an article predicting this time of ongoing epidemics. I am with Zach Bush. So let’s make that dream a reality.
As I said I have little to offer except the sense that we are dealing with much more than a NOVEL virus and I keep envisioning a new regime that may do a bit better as we all learn together how to become the more beautiful world we all know is possible.
Cannot edit. What comes to mind is a quote from Pogo: We have met the enemy and he is us.
I wrote a piece much like yours for Medium and I was viciously attacked for mentioning Bush by a friend into allopathy; it has threatened our friendship.
How is this happening? With a lot of help by those who have little respect for our planet and for peace. I weep and I fight on. –np
Joanna Furth says
Yours is the voice of sense and reason. Thank you.
David S. says
Nancy, your words are brilliant. Thank you. How can I connect more with your wisdom?
Nancy, Your comment was profound–I totally appreciate your perspective which is so close to mine! I do think that Charles would also share much agreement with what you said. His essay was short and focused on a very specific aspect of this situation we’re all in that is trivialized: isolation. He said this: “I am not advocating that sociality become a new absolutism to replace death postponement as the overriding determinant of public policy.” Being social is also a highly significant aspect of taking care of our health and immune system. I lament that taking care of ourselves in all the ways possible, in ways that are deep, meaningful and long-term is not what dominates public conversation–at least not yet. We can imagine and dream and intentionally create this part of the beautiful world we know is possible. We can be the change we wish to see in the world. I appreciate and am inspired beyond measure that there are people like you, Nancy and you, Charles, on this planet.
norman douglas says
you called the cops?
maybe you should have called the chiropractor and related your experience. i don’t doubt you gave much thought to that person. you speak of civility. and all you got from the information you looked up was the impulse to call the cops. madam, that is not civility. there is nothing civil about the force of arms.
may your fellow residents never encounter your version of civility.
rest in peace
I am the mother of 6 and grandmother of 10 and I believe the worst thing we can do is feel sorry for our kids. They become self-pitying and entitled. The virus and subsequent quarantine have give all of us an opportunity to regroup, go inside, get creative, rebel, talk to each other, serve, feel compassion, get a new perspective, etc., etc. Sitting on your bed staring into space is a choice. And one of many, even in this time of dis-ease and fear.
Kids suffer in their lives regardless of Covid. They lose parents, siblings, friends, belongings, schools, teachers, homes, and yet they are resilient and if they are lucky there is an adult in their world who cares and has a hand on their shoulder while they get through the pain. They can get through the pain, and even find themselves on the other side.
There are many stories online of kids doing selfless acts of giving to others, of being creative, of singing, dancing and doing gymnastics with their parents and siblings. Some kids have no siblings or neighborhood friends growing up, so they learn to be imaginative and creative all on their own. This quarantine is irrelevant to them. We need to make it irrelevant to our own happiness and joy.
The only compass I have used in responding to the quarantine is my own inner guidance. It’s the one trustworthy voice each of has and it is unique to each of us and the path we are on. I don’t presume to advise anyone else on how to respond to the masks, the quarantine, the demonstrations – but I do advise everyone – children especially – to listen for that voice and trust it. It will never fail you.
Jill Garsden says
Oh, Charles, you’ve done it again! Every time I struggle with an issue, it seems like you respond with an essay which articulates what I want to say myself. This is the most well-balanced article on Covid I’ve ever read – and I’ve read a lot! – and it echoes so many of my own thoughts. My heart goes out to all of you in America and elsewhere who have experienced more extreme impacts from both the virus and the lockdown measures. Here in the north-eastern corner of NSW, we have been largely untouched, with only a few local cases and only the ongoing requirement for social distancing and limited numbers in restaurants and the like impacting on ordinary life – although, if the current outbreaks in the major metropolitan areas further south continue, we may well have more restrictions imposed on us all. Even so, witnessing the impact of such restrictions as we have on the isolated elderly in aged care, and on people with mental illness, is heartbreaking. (One of my sons is in the latter category, and those who have no experience of dealing with the issues he has cannot begin to imagine the kind of distress that he experiences.)
And it is heartbreaking, too, to witness the extent to which we have become suspicious of one another, fearing the possibility that anyone may be contagious, and how people in our society have become so polarized by black-and-white perceptions and judgements, with little room for respectful debate and compassion. Woe betide any of us who may harbour or express views different from those fed to us by the politicians, the mainstream medical fraternity and the media!
We have indeed forgotten, in our society, that the death of the physical body is a natural part of life. We have become so afraid of illness and death that our fear creates more dis-ease and dysfunction than any illness ever could, and we have lost touch with the natural rhythms of life. Economic well-being has become too elevated in importance, and even our food is poisoned by the profit-making motive. Daily, I feel like quoting T.S. Eliot’s words: “Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”
If we are witnessing the final stages of our known way of living, as some suggest, then I can only trust that from the ashes of the old a new and better humanity will arise.
This is really well written and helps shed light on the greater picture of what’s happening. Thanks Charles.
Lisa Fitzhugh says
Once again you bring words to my feelings and reflections in a profound way. My father is in managed care and has been isolated for many months, in and out of total lock-down. I cannot even come to take him for a walk. His dementia is worsening. I feel the hole in his heart. I believe your suggestion of moving from talking about ‘saving lives’ to ‘postponing death’ is so apt. My dad is not longer ‘living’ in any sense of the word. And I find it harder and harder to locate where his joy lives in him. He says he cannot find it. Let’s bring the ephermal, the intrinsically valuable, into this broader conversation again, the aspects of living that have never been measurable and yet are what makes us alive. I will take up that mantle here where I live. I can start by interpreting the ground rules for taking my father out of the facility for a walk as “essential”, take all the precautions with distancing and masks to protect him and others, and stand by it. Walking in the sunshine just may save him. This moment is all we have. Thank you for your work. Love Lisa
Lisa Fitzhugh says
One more note of hope….I believe Charles’ piece and our innate knowing is already affecting the field. Just this morning, without much prompting by me, my father’s western medical doctor prescribed ‘daily walks’ for his mental health and immunity! So I can now be assured that walking will be valued! and I can take him on two of these walks a week. Making connection and physical exercise possible. Meeting more of his human needs and valuing this as much as valuing risk reduction. Somehow, the field has morphed, even just enough, for me to see how transformation is possible. A valuing of just what Charles is writing about here.
I appreciate your writings very much. When I read The Coronation I felt such relief to read many of my own thoughts expressed so eloquently. I feel so often that conversations morph quickly into debates. All that might have been born from exploring the questions is lost in defense mode. As a music teacher in a school that values deep connections to students, it is hard to watch the same children who lit up a schoolroom appear lifeless & listless in Zoom sessions. Thank you for opening the conversation I hope we will all continue to have! So grateful, Diana Corbo
Camilla Fadum says
Thank you yet again for your beautiful thoughts! I’ve signed up for the course “Political Hope” and very much looking forward to being inspired! Love, Camilla
This has been “eating” at me too and I have to say I have a huge issue with our youth not being taught to reflect and act mindfully. I have turned young Peublo youth onto the free insight timer meditation app and one got it immediately that when he had an “upset” he could scroll around on it. They have more and more for young people. He was of the Water Clan and although he knew of the positive and negative ions in the rain, I taught him that some believe bathing together or just showering raises OXYTOCIN, the Mother love hormone. He liked that. I always also suggesting napping with app.
And of course remembering Charles’s love of interbeing, and my own time with Thich Nhat Hahn this just came to me: https://wkup.org/thich-nhat-hanh-message-youth/
I still do not understand getting angry with something most agree is a pandemic does much good. We are all in this together. It would be lovely if we all could live as Zach Bush, Sayer Ji and Kelly Brogan do and again how getting angry helps, although my expressing my anger above did help me get more clear.
As I said above I agree with much, like pollution, that Zach Bush believes even as he is a millionare vitamin maker, I see quarantine as chance to allow the earth to heal. We saw how it came back before reopening.
Learning to manage one’s energy is doable and I pray instead of acting out we act in. Just last Friday Insight timer had a free meditation with a Black man who shared how Corona had taken away his livelihood as a gym instructor and then bam, a friend suggested that he look into Insight and it turns out they are looking for yoga teacher. Skip, our teacher was very pleased that this gift arose and all 2k plus of us agreed.
So I am one of the one’s who sees this an amazing opportunity to really go within and without, connecting with others, and noticing what we want to keep in our lives, what has real value I wish I could have chatted with the young girl regarding her numbness…..
Yes, Savanah – thank you for your wisdom. I needed your reminder to trust my own inner voice and to share that message with the beautiful young people in my life. Listen to your own inner compass.
And thank you too, Charles, for articulating my dismay and hope so aptly though this Pandemic. Actually, your essays have been teaching me to trust my inner voice, and your words are helping me crystallize my nebulous feelings.
I witnessed many students “withering on the vine” before the increased isolation of the Pandemic. How I am going to help them find new ground? How will I nurture them in the harshness of this “transplant”? All the beautiful seeds. I’m sure I need to share my confidence in them, my gratitude for their inner knowing – “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower.”
Brad Johnston says
I watch the USA from behind its northern border in Canada. I watch the USA tear itself apart at its economic and political seams as Covid-19 flourishes as in no other country in the world.
Life is being denied by the lock downs and social distancing. I sincerely ask “what would you do Charles if you were chief medical officer of health”. What would your policy be? How would you enforce it?”
Perhaps this is the test for essayists today, “tell me what you would do, not what you think?
claire Quinn says
I love your work Charles and you make interesting points here but I suspect there may be some privelege blindness. For example many children come from homes where a parent is shielding so it can be rather more complex. I am disabled, have auto immune conditions and I am a single parent. My children’s mental health is in a good place because we talk about it and I ask them to tell me when things are difficult because we can find solutions. The eldest can choose freedom if he wants but he also wants to see me and knows the risks, I reassure him and we just have to manage it as best we can. The youngest isn’t in the same position and needs much more cuddles from his mum! I am priveleged because I live in a beautiful place and a small town. If I was in a city this would be much worse. I am a counsellor so I know how to support my children in that way which I am lucky to know and had the privelege of affording the education to have a second career. Whatever issues we need to address like freedom and in particular for our youth does demand a discussion but we must lightly hold the aspects of complexity that exist for people so that we do not exclude anyone. I do love this bit “Now we have a wake-up call to reverse this trend both in our parenting and in our public policy – to revalue play, outdoors, connection to place, interaction with nature, and community gathering”. Let’s do it sensitively without leaving people behind.
You sound like joe. Poor kids =black or POC kids
Mary Beth Bryant says
THank you Cjharles, I couldn’t agree more