Return to “Normal” (5)

Post-pandemic, “normal” can mean a just society for all people in Canada. We now have the opportunity to establish a society where class privileges are eliminated. this is a core teaching of the Christian religious tradition.

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“As Christians, we believe that being created in the image of God establishes for the individual equal rights to all of the necessities of life:

  • a home

  • food

  • clothing

  • and an opportunity to fulfill oneself in a job.”

Rt. Rev/ Dennis Drainville

 

 

The Anthropocene

“In our new and powerful role over the planet, we have now become capable of engineering our own demise.”

“I feel the urgency to make people aware of important things that are at stake. By describing the problem vividly, by being revelatory and not accusatory, we can help to cultivate a broader conversation about viable solutions, inspiring today’s generation to carry the momentum of this discussion forward, so that succeeding generations may continue experiencing the wonder and magic of planet Earth.”

Edward Burtynsky in Earth 2020: An Insider’s Guide to a Rapidly Changing Planet, p. 115

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Return to “Normal” (4)

Dr. Kwame McKenzie dreads returning to “normal”. In his view, the old “normal” wasn’t working for the majority of people.

In this blog posting on the Wellesley Institute website, Dr. McKenzie writes about what the old “normal” looked like; and proposes a vision of how a new “normal” could benefit the majority of people by taking care of the common good.

A new normal

Kwame McKenzie – May 13, 2020

I am told that we are preparing to slowly get back to normal. That fills me with dread.

I remember normal.

Normal was when Ontario had its highest ever GDP per capita, but at least 350,000 people used food banks and social assistance rates were so low that those considered too sick to work were living in poverty.

Normal meant a business model where many jobs were precarious, had no pension or benefits and the provincial government thought that $15 an hour and paid sick days were an unreasonable burden for employers. It was where young adults earned less than they did 40 years ago and GTA immigrants had not had a pay increase for 35 years.

Normal was a real estate market so out of control that the average family could not afford to buy a Toronto condo. It was when the majority of long-term care homes were private, for-profit and the provincial government had scaled back inspections.

It was when Ontario was the second lowest spender on health in Canada and our health services were cut back so far that people were dying in hallways. Health service workers could not have a cost of living increase and public health was to be cut by 10% provincially and 20% in Toronto.

Normal was when we spent 30% less on mental health than recommended leaving services for people with serious mental illness underfunded. It was when the target of ending homelessness by 2025 had been shelved.

Normal was the problem.

It allowed government to put industry’s interests ahead of the people. It made it acceptable to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. It was bad for our health.

It increased the rates of chronic disease and slowed our gains in life expectancy. It led to 20 years difference in life span between rich and poor in some Cities. It led to indigenous and racial disparities in health, social care and policing. It left workers with fewer protections and produced epidemics of loneliness and mental health problems.

It left us more vulnerable to COVID-19.

It left families overcrowded and unable to physically distance. It left personal support workers underpaid, undervalued and resigning in droves and our long-term care homes understaffed and vulnerable. It allowed COVID-19 to prey on our elders.

It left us with so little hospital capacity that we had to develop new, poorer quality alternatives. It may decrease COVID-19 survival rates.

It left our public health system weaker, demoralized, and with the lowest rates of COVID-19 testing in Canada.

It led to people with serious mental illness swelling the numbers of homeless, or living in shared rooms separated only by a curtain, and it led to homeless shelters resembling refugee camps with just 2.5 feet between beds. It led to COVID-19 outbreaks.

I do not want to go back to that normal. It was wrong, and it will delay our recovery and have a huge economic impact. The truth is it was not normal at all and it reversed the gains we have made over the last 40 years.

We need a new normal.

A new normal where we put people first – not say we will and then do the opposite. A new normal which aims to increase affordability, equity and inclusion. A new normal where people thrive, rather than just survive.

This means we need: good jobs, employment rights and wages which ensure that people thrive; a revitalized benefits system based on a universal basic income which ensures that we never again allow people to live in government sponsored poverty; and, a housing strategy that makes homes affordable.

We need to: right-size our health and social services sector; look at how B.C. is improving standards for long-term care homes; and, reconsider the shelter system and find homes for the homeless.

We need to do this to honour the people who have died because of COVID-19, those who will die because they do not receive proper care, and the families who have not been able to properly grieve. We need to honour the essential workers who have put themselves and their families at risk, the employers who have lost their livelihood, the people who have lost their jobs and the students who have had their education disrupted.

If we just go back to normal we are disrespecting these sacrifices, we are ignoring what COVID-19 has taught us, and we are leaving ourselves vulnerable to the next pandemic.

A Return to “Normal”? (3)

IMG_1262During COVID-10 Confinement:    by Allan Baker

In this time of COVID confinement

when we are all in this together

as children of a loving God;

we are showing each other

 that the power of love

is everywhere on Planet Earth.

Love is pervasive, and invasive.

Love is strong, patient, and kind;

not insisting on its own way

but accepting that there are many pathways through life.

So, as we long to return to “normal”

we are learning to give, and to receive;

sharing love and kindness; friendship and connection,

and learning to use these life-giving gifts

to affirm the goodness of people, and of creation.

May it continue to be so.

Posted April 29, 2020 by allanbaker in Canadian society, Inspiration

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A Return to “Normal”?(3)

 

Toward a More Caring Society: Practicing Empathy During a Pandemic

by: Amanda Harvey-Sánchez

In a society plagued by the logic of neoliberalism, which encourages a turn towards individual interests and an “every person for themselves” mentality, acts of empathy and collective action may seem rare. But mutual aid also demonstrates how collective interests and a capacity for empathy have not entirely disappeared, and we may still have an opportunity to build upon these promising actions.

More on empathy at: https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/toward-a-more-caring-society-practicing-empathy-during-a-pandemic

 

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A Return to “Normal”? (2)

Rejecting the death instinct in a pandemic age:

by Matthew Behrens, April 21, 2020

Image: Amanda Slater/Flickr

Matthew Behrens has shared his thoughts on what we choose to happen as we “return to normal” after COVID-19. He begins by writing that:

“The ongoing pandemic epoch has exposed a clear duality marked both by increasingly obvious and blatant inequalities, hypocrisies and systemic failures as well as beautiful, loving and creative responses in the form of mutual aid communities and direct action to save lives.

What happens when — or if — this epoch comes to an end is anybody’s guess, but there are clearly two paths forward, with a thankfully growing consciousness developed long before COVID-19 that our present path is one leading directly to disaster. Indeed, the 24-hour news cycle dominated by masked faces, hospital images and infection charts has almost obliterated from memory everything from January’s apocalyptic Australian brush fire scenes that served as yet one more warning about planetary peril to the grotesque armed invasion of Wet’suwet’en territory by paramilitary RCMP units.”

 

Which path will we, individually and as a society, choose to follow? The whole of Matthew’s article can be found at:

https://rabble.ca/columnists/2020/04/rejecting-death-instinct-pandemic-age

 

 

 

A Return to “Normal”?

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Photo: Allan Baker – Lake Ontario beach at Morningside Creek

Do we really want to return to “normal” as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides? Is a return to “normal” in the best interest of humanity, or Planet Earth?

Yes, there’s plenty about this time of COVID confinement that I do not enjoy, and in my heart I wish that “social distancing” were over with, for example. However, what was “normal” before this time? Was it all-good? What would we have changed about life to make it richer and more meaning-full for ourselves and people in our communities?

Thanks to Prof. Dennis Bartels, I have set up a small chart of SOME of the differences that we are currently (April 2020) experiencing:

Before COVID -19                                             During COVID-19

Concern for gov’t DEBT                              No limits on gov’t spending

Opposition to carbon tax                           Environmental issues fade

Housing the homeless is an                      People without homes are being housed in hotels,

Intractable problem, cannot                    new shelters set up.

be solved, just tolerated                           Concern that “they” may infect “the rest of us”

Underfunding of daycare                         Gov’t establishes FREE daycare

                                                                          for children of “Essential” folks

As André Picard, the health reporter for Toronto’s Globe & Mail says: The big unknown question is, are we going to learn lessons from this? Or are we just going to go back to what we did before? ….I think there’s some real opportunities here to do things differently. I hope the bright side of this is that we really do take advantage of this crisis to do bold things and not just go back to the safe, not very effective way of doing health and social services.”

 What we are seeing during this pandemic are acts of kindness, and love for other people who are all part of our human family.

I’ll conclude with a quote from Bill McKibben, who wrote this in the May, 2020 edition of Sojourners Magazine: The day will come when we can easily return to church, to the store, to the hairdresser – for that we will be able to thank the scientists, and the brave doctors and nurses, who did what they had to do during this emergency. But their courage will have been wasted if nothing deeper changes in how we treat one another and the planet.”

Let’s not “waste” this opportunity.

Earth Day, 2020

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Celebrating 50 years of a vision.

 

Posted April 22, 2020 by allanbaker in Environment

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What Really Matters These Days ?

David Suzuki asks:

When you pause to reflect on what’s truly essential and meaningful for you to thrive, what comes to mind?

One possible response comes from Bill Mckibbin. In Sojourner’s Magazine ( www.sojo.net) Bill wrote:

“The day will come when we can easily return to church, to the store, to the hairdresser – for that we will be able to thank the scientists, and the brave doctors and nurses, who did what they have to do during this emergency. But their courage will have been wasted if nothing deeper changes in how we treat one another and the planet.”

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Suzuki’s thoughtful column concludes with this statement:

“Now, many politicians are ascribing war language to the pandemic response. But what will we do when this “war” is over? Will we allow an old equation to continue to guide us, or could we choose to come together to define a new purpose?”

To read the whole column go to:

https://davidsuzuki.org/story/economics-should-reflect-what-really-matters/

Posted April 17, 2020 by allanbaker in Canadian society, Environment, Spirituality

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Canada Day ?

How did you celebrate Canada Day – July 1st?

The message below comes from a First Nations person and represents one of the BIG issues that Canada still has to deal with – honouring the treaties that were made with First Nations.

Let’s educate ourselves as Canadians and make the choice to stop this from happening in Canada.

Posted July 30, 2019 by allanbaker in Uncategorized