Every disaster shakes loose the old order. What replaces it is up to us.
By Rebecca Solnit
Ms. Solnit is a writer.
- March 29, 2020, 3:00 p.m. ET
- The New York Times
It depends on what we do, and that depends on how we read what’s happening and what we value and how that changes in a time of stunning upheaval. Along with the struggle to overcome a disaster comes a struggle to define what it means. The two struggles are inseparable, and out of them a new order emerges.
No one knows yet what will come out of this crisis. But like so many other disasters, this one has revealed how interconnected we are; how much we depend on the labor and good will of others; how deeply enmeshed we are in social, ecological and economic systems; and how prevention or survival of something as deeply, bodily personal as a disease depends on our collective decisions and those of our leadership.
As consumer spending free-falls while whole populations stay home, will we redefine what is necessary and important and how people’s needs are met? Will addressing climate change seem different in a world where air travel and consumption of consumer goods and of fossil fuel has been significantly curtailed, a world in which it is more possible to imagine sweeping change because so much is already altered?