Friday, October 2, 2020

How do I Feel About This?

Humans on this planet woke up to the very not fake news that the sitting President of the United States has contracted the COVID-19 virus.

Like anyone with a reasonable amount of education and any semblance of a moral compass, I have no desire to witness, albeit from across a border, four more years of lies, deceit and fear-mongering.  Let me also clearly state that I sincerely hope the President recovers from this illness.  What is more, I do not even think he deserved to get the virus - no one deserves it.  Some might invoke karma, because after all, this is a man who hid the dangers of the disease from those he claims to represent.  In my head, I am not really going there.  My thoughts this morning are moving in a completely other direction...

Obviously, this only hurts his re-election campaign.  Even if his symptoms are mild, his supporters will have a hard time calling this a total hoax (it was announced by his highness on his royal twitter platform).  One way or another, his diagnosis gives the optics of weakness - his perceived strength and bravado is the one thing some might say he had 'going for him'.  Of course, if his health suffers for a couple of weeks or more, then it seems to me that the election is a moot point (though we have all been proven wrong by this man in the past).

If indeed, this virus spells the end of the sitting President's reign, that is, without question, a good thing from the point of view of the vast majority of humans on this planet.  But as this particular human sits typing away this morning, he cannot help but feel strangely about it.

Before this news, I, along with most Canadians that I know, felt a great deal of anxiety over the four weeks leading up to the U.S. election - these feelings were independent of the fact that the world seems to be on fire, sometimes in a literal sense.  If the chances that Joe Biden will be the President in 2021, instead of the alternative, increased dramatically overnight, that is undoubtedly a good thing, and it does provide me with a certain sense of relief, or even, dare I say, cautious optimism.  But the prevailing thought I am overcome with is that I would have preferred it not happen this way.

I would like to have seen sensible Americans do the right thing in massive numbers based on the information before them.  I wanted my faith in my neighbours to the South restored.  I wanted the overwhelming majority of Americans to choose the reasonable human instead of the bully, the ignorant fool, the small-minded racist, the petty mysoginist... Need I go on?

Alas, the scale may have tipped over last night.  Biden may just win this thing by default.  The right thing might happen, but for the wrong reason.  It reminds me of a completely analogous situation - an even more serious one that also affects us on a global scale: climate change.

I have no doubt that humans will eventually move away from fossil fuels to power their lives.  All powerplants will be solar, all combustion engines will convert to electric, and most food consumption will go vegan.  Sadly, these changes will happen for the wrong reasons.

These grandiose modifications, so necessary for the viability of life as we know it on this planet, will be made not because they are the right thing to do.  They will happen because they are economically preferable.  The cost of vegan will be cheaper than raising cattle only to kill and distribute their parts.  The cost of solar energy production will become far less than that obtained by the burning of coal (it is comparable today).

The fight against climate change may be a victory one day (that is, it may not be a runaway train with no end in sight, and be limited to a minor global catastrophe), yes, but it will reflect that our species cares deeply about our world economy and not our world.  It will leave me shaking my head at our backwardness.

As a hopeful person, I yearn to see my fellow humans step up to the plate, and make the noble choice.  The President's contraction of COVID may have, in a sense, denied Americans that opportunity.  The outcome may well be positive, because the more suitable candidate may win, but it may not be a victory that Americans can be truly proud of.

I sincerely hope that us fickle humans come to our senses - that we become responsible custodians of this planet.  I want it to happen so much, that I would accept almost any avenue required to get there.  But I would prefer that our path to responsibility, accountability and sustainability be paved by the good will of humans rather than their obsession with the almighty dollar.