Solstice 2010

One of the articles in Creating A Future We Can Live With (IC#40)
Originally published in Spring 1995 on page 40
Copyright (c)1995, 1997 by Context Institute

Dear Laura,

Sorry sis, once again I didn’t get my Solstice cards out on time; I hope you had a happy one with family and friends. And best wishes for 2010, too!

Joni turned 10 yesterday, and she’s started to develop a social awareness! This morning she asked me, "Why is there so much unfairness and suffering in the world?"

Tough question! I couldn’t give her an answer, but at least I could give her some hope. I told her about how hopeless and desperate things were just fifteen years ago, and how far we have come since then. I’ve been so caught up in the work of the last 15 years that I forget to look back and see just how much has changed and how far we’ve come. I forget just how lucky we are, too. So many crises came together at once. Only their synergy was enough to jolt us awake in time. How painful it was.

I told Joni about the hot dry summers of 1988 and 1995, how US grain reserves had dwindled to almost nothing in those years, and how the warnings were ignored. And I told her about the drought of ’98 and ’99, and how strange it seemed that a country that still considered itself the most powerful nation on earth could actually run out of food. We had to learn to recognize the bounty of the Earth again; once we learned that skill, we were still hungry, but few starved – the real tragedy was the riots sparked by the panic of the first few weeks.

It was as if that long fast opened our eyes, showed us our connections to the Earth again, and made us receptive to change. And of course, the other things helped too: when the US stock market crashed during the riots, it took much of the world economy with it.

Suddenly there was not enough money to go around. Corporations shut down. All the employees were cut loose and – unsure of what to do with themselves – profoundly scared and without the consumer world to reassure them. When the French nuclear reactor blew up, the same unease and questioning spread through Europe.

Underlying it all was the craziness of the millennium, with its mystical and arbitrary significance – as I recall, half of us were praying for the Age of Aquarius, and the other half for the return of Christ!

Rebuilding the rest, really, was easy. And this was the hope that I could pass on to Joni – that our species is basically good, and competent, and caring. Free from the distractions of affluence and the apathy that comes from a too-full belly, we just started rebuilding, and doing things right this time. With the economy in shambles people had nothing to lose. Scared and perplexed, they were willing to try out the ideas of those of us who had some skills and a vision.

I told Joni about the holistic health centers you started setting up, and explained how I’d helped to get the community farms organized around here.

I told her about the devoted teachers who went on teaching without pay. And about the craftspeople who, with the factories shut down, started making useful goods, and showing us how to do for ourselves … the engineers who abandoned their high technology and started designing on a human scale for human needs, building greenhouses and biological waste-water treatment systems and neighborhood composting sites right into city blocks … the peacemakers whose gift was talk and empathy and understanding, who kept us working together instead of fighting. I told her about the dreamers and the visionaries who taught us to see the world and our inter-relationships in a new way, and about the musicians who inspired us and set all our rebuilding to music.

I know you keep telling me that we’re not through the danger yet, that there is pain and hardship yet to come. But it was a thrilling experience for me to think back over what we have achieved; it made me think of you. Keep up the good work, sis!

Wholeness, Peace, & Love,

David

David Flanagan is interested in communities, permaculture design, and appropriate technology. He works as a technical writer and computer programmer while searching for more sustainable and meaningful work.

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