The tenure of current events, in this country and around the world, have moved from concerning to overwhelming. The pandemic isn’t nicely wrapping itself up, hurricanes and forest fires seem to be on the rise, and underneath it all the temperature of the earth continues its slow but steady rise, threatening to destroy life, or at least quality of life, in ever more dire ways as the years go by.
How does one respond in the face of crises that have no clear end?
I found a piece of advice that I thought was spot on. It wasn’t addressing world events in general but had a very specific focus e.g. those whose incomes have suffered under the pandemic. Here is the advice over the weekend from Remy Tumin of New York Times Direct: “If your finances took a hit from the pandemic, it’s especially important to conduct three types of check-ins: find someone wiser than you, check your credit report and taxes, and stop catastrophizing.”
Simple but profound. With some minor tweaks, it applies well to how to respond to the weightier issues facing us today:
1. Find someone wiser than you. Armchair politicking is so easy. And so useless. Especially when it poses as a substitute for going to people with wisdom we can trust. We have heard a lot about sticking to science when we evaluate COVID protocol. Have we considered our sources for the science? We worry about climate change. But have we actually consulted an expert about what to do about it? We have smart people around us. What’s preventing us from consulting them? Usually, pride – nothing more.
2. Check your credit report and taxes. OK, that applies specifically to a drop in our income but can readily apply to any world issue: look at your habits, your lifestyle, what you use, how you spend and take stock – am I part of the solution or part of the problem? As for climate change, see my last blog on practices the ordinary citizen can take on (GO TO LINK) . As for racial disparity, these steps will help evaluate your current biases (GO TO LINK). The point is not beating yourself up. Rather, it’s responding responsibly to the news around us. Like adults. Like helpful citizens.
3. Don’t catastrophize. This refers, of course, to jumping to unnecessary conclusions. Yes, one can look at the warming of our planet and assume that we’re all going to burn up. But jumping there doesn’t help anyone, especially because no one knows the future and there are many possible scenarios that still lay before us. Taking well-thought-out steps that may prevent disaster does.
Being part of the solution doesn’t really take brilliance, or tons of time, or luck. It does take humility, patience, and forbearance. None of which cost a dime but do cost discipline. I can’t think of any scenarios in the next 5 – 10 years where these attributes won’t be badly needed.
Trust in a Higher Power that cares about our world, our well-being, and our future doesn’t hurt either.