The dire economic condition of the vast majority of people, people who have no financial reserves, is creating tremendous, rapidly escalating pressure to re-open businesses. Protests in the streets, usually outside legislative buildings, show levels of fear and anger that could escalate into violence.
On the other side, the idea of re-opening the economy is devastating to medical personnel who have risked their lives and worked under extremely stressful conditions, for countless hours, to care for patients with the novel coronavirus. They all hope the number of cases will decrease and disappear. It is crushing to hear talk of re-opening businesses and relaxing guidelines, which they know would cause many more infections and deaths.
I recently wrote about critical thinking. https://jeffkisling.com/2020/04/20/look-beyond-your-culture/
Critical thinking shows the dangers of re-opening our economy before COVID-19 is manageable. That thinking indicates businesses should not open until a minimal level of new cases is occurring, widespread testing is available, and either a vaccine and/or a medical treatment exists. But the premise of that blog post was that few people employ critical thinking.
The question being asked by many is “should some businesses be allowed to open now?” The answer from critical thinking would be “no”. But this is the wrong question. People cannot be left without access to food and to meet other financial demands.
As many have pointed out, one right question is “how do we financially support people as long as the virus restrictions are needed?”
A better question is “what does a just economic model look like, and how to we implement it?”
Unfortunately the stimulus bills that have been passed by the US Congress have continued to pump vast sums of money into corporations and into our current unjust economic system. Little or none of that money has gotten to those who desperately need it. Worse, these bloated expenditures will be used to try to justify defunding social safety nets.
An even better question is “what does a just economic model that prioritizes addressing our climate catastrophe look like, and how do we implement it now?”
As I also wrote in the blog post referenced above, after years of trying and failing to use critical thinking to get people to stop fossil fuel abuse, I looked for cultures that were living sustainably. Which led me to learn more about Indigenous peoples. (see https://jeffkisling.com/?s=native+indigenous). I’ve been learning more about spirituality and all our relations (in the Native sense). Learning more about our sacred connection to Mother Earth.
I’m inspired by what I’ve witnessed, and learned from the Wet’suwet’en peoples and their struggles to keep a pipeline from being built through their pristine lands. I’ve seen the power and effectiveness of their work. I saw them evict the pipeline company that was beginning to build housing for the pipeline workers (man camps). I’m in awe of the eloquence of their Native youth. Rail service across Canada was shut down for several weeks when the First Nations people blockaded the tracks. (Much of the railroad goes through native lands.) Shipping was shut down when the Port of Vancouver was blocaded.
I believe the urgent “right” question is “how can we advocate for and support the leadership of Native peoples in the US?” Because that would lead to a just economic model that prioritizes the health of Mother earth and all our relations.
As my friend Ronnie James wrote recently:
I’m of the firm opinion that a system that was built by stolen bodies on stolen land for the benefit of a few is a system that is not repairable. It is operating as designed, and small changes (which are the result of huge efforts) to lessen the blow on those it was not designed for are merely half measures that can’t ever fully succeed.Ronnie James
So the question is now, where do we go from here? Do we continue to make incremental changes while the wealthy hoard more wealth and the climate crisis deepens, or do we do something drastic that has never been done before? Can we envision and create a world where a class war from above isn’t a reality anymore?”
And as my friend Christine Nobiss says:
Let’s look at the Indigenous Peoples that have survived genocide and continue to carry on their ways—ways which can save the world. Let’s look to our tribal nations for an Indigenous-led regenerative economy created through traditional ecological knowledge. An effective way we can protect, preserve and restore the climate is by seeing and taking the word of people who fight colonial oppression by tenaciously holding onto traditions that tell a different story about this planet.
Let’s get funds to Indigenous Peoples first. We have answers.LET’S BREAK THE MONEY CYCLE THAT STAYS IN WHITE CIRCLES by Christine Nobiss
Christine is also involved in SHIFT.
SHIFT stands for Seeding the Hill with Indigenous FreeThinkers and is Seeding Sovereignty’s political engagement program focused on empowering Indigenous voices, values and leadership; Particularly womxn, youth, LGBTQIA+, and Two Spirit folx during this critical 2020 presidential election and beyond. We increase Indigenous voter turnout and respond to key issues within Indian Country by uplifting community concerns and initiatives both on and off the reservation. We support those who seek to Indigenize Congress as well as those that question our relationship with the US political system.
Above all else, we rally behind Indigenous-led environmental and climate justice movements as the fight for land sovereignty is at the center of every issue we face. Land defense is a force that has a long history of inciting political engagement–a force that Seeding Sovereignty believes catalyzes real, lasting change.SHIFT Catalyzes Indigenous Political Engagement