And, again, I get it. On the surface, it does seem nuts. But I believe firmly that crises can be catalysts for positive change.
Let me provide you with an example from my life. Four years ago, my father passed away very suddenly of a massive heart attack. Less than a week after he died, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. My life, which had been fairly happy-go-lucky up until then, all of a sudden seemed ripped from a Lifetime movie of the week.
Losing my dad sucked. Watching my mom go through chemo sucked. For a while, I lived in a constant state of grief. I couldn't understand how the world kept turning. How the newspapers kept reporting about the presidential election. Why did other people get to live their lives so peacefully when my life had effectively ended?
But slowly, I began to come out of my fog. And I learned a few things about myself. One, that my life, inexplicably, hadn't ended. Two, that my capacity to feel, whether it be grief, love, or happiness, was much greater than I had ever imagined. Three, that even when I felt weak, I was much stronger and more resilient than I had ever imagined possible. Four, that there were so many, many people out there who loved me, and cared about me, that I had so much to be thankful for, even in the face of tragedy.
I don't wish this kind of personal crisis on anyone. Hell, I don't wish it on myself. But ... it happened. And because of it, I am a better person. I am a stronger person. And I am a more confident person. Because once you go through shit like that, you know, deep in your heart, that if you can handle that? You can handle whatever else life wants to throw at you.
Difficult times test us like no others. And sometimes, we succumb to defeat. Sometimes, difficult times can bring out the worst in people. But difficult times can also often bring out the best in humanity.
On a national scale, take a look at some of our greatest presidents like Abraham Lincoln and FDR. These are presidents that were made stronger and greater because of the crises they faced. Our nation itself is better for the difficulties it has gone through. The Civil War resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, but it also brought an end to slavery. The Great Depression brought us unemployment, bank runs, and the loss of fortunes. But it also brought us a more secure banking system, Social Security, and other much needed social safety nets. In other words, our country is better and stronger for having gone through and withstood these crises.
Now some of you might be thinking again, "Oh, great, Arduous. So you're saying that global warming could result in war, unemployment and unstable financial markets, but then that EVENTUALLY we'd be better off. Wow, yeah "civil war" scenarios are really hopeful."
And you would have a point. Both the end of slavery and the advent of Social Security were bought at a very steep cost. So here's where we have to apply some of the lessons of history. The Civil War came at such a steep cost because for years and years, we dithered around the subject, operating out of fear of change. We were so afraid of what would happen if slavery ended, that we waited and waited until there was no choice but to bring about the end of slavery in an extremely painful way. Similarly, while the stock market crash was certainly a terrible crisis, the fear that came out of it was worse. In fact, the subsequent run on the banks had a far worse effect on the economy than the stock market crash itself.
So, first, we have to remember that crises aren't necessarily bad. That they can bring with them opportunities and positive change. Next we have to remember that progress is natural. That life keeps moving forward, that there is no societal turning back to the "old days" no matter how wonderful those days seem. And then, we need to approach said crises with hope, with full hearts, and with faith that we can take on these crises and come out better. If we approach crises from a position of hope and strength, then I believe we can mitigate the worst effects of said crises. The sooner we stop fearing climate change the better. Because as soon as we stop acting afraid, we can begin to positively deal with the problem at hand. We can take this crisis we've been given, and turn the crisis into a positive BEFORE the costs start to grow any further.
Tomorrow (assuming I'm not brain dead)- Part Three: One lay blogger's prescription for a brighter future.
P.S. For the record, my mother's cancer-free now. Yay, my mom!