Steering Towards Optimism

We are currently in a historical moment, witnessing some large shifts in society that will affect our lives into the future.  Even though sometimes I feel like I am watching from some far off distant corner of the world, separated by water and in my little art studio, I know that I am still part of it all.

In the 21st century western world, our comforts and lifestyles are often taken for granted as being just the way it is.  However, in light of having just read Sapiens, A Brief History of Mankind by Yuval Noah Harari, it’s clear that many different forces have lead us to where we are today including; wars, colonialism and slavery.  Our lives have been shaped by past people’s insights, mistakes, greed, jealousy, prejudice but also love, creativity, wisdom, courage and more mistakes.   Our current reality is just one of many options that might have been.

In the tribulations and trials of the past few months a couple of what seem to be, universal beliefs, have come to light – the first one being that we are all connected.  The coronavirus has emphasized this like nothing else as we have had to lock ourselves in our homes for it not to spread rampantly: imagine if it was transmitted through cyberspace?  If that is how fast a virus spreads across the globe, think about how fast ideas, thoughts and emotions can also be shared.  The second belief that has stood out is that we are here to help each other – that we saw the whole economy shut down for the first time ever to keep people from getting sick has made this message clear.

In a short time we have been shaken up with this heightened awareness that what happens to others, happens to us, creating a new space for us to grow into a more just and compassionate society.  Realities that contradict these beliefs such as, the state of longterm care homes, the toxic drug supply, opioid crisis and endemic rascism as well as climate change are now standing out in plain ugly view for everyone to see and act on.  I have no doubt humans will keep barrelling forward into the future in an often flawed and bumbling way –  but these rare historical moments of insight give us, the people, a better chance to steer things towards somewhere optimistic.