Today is the first day of Pride Month, thirty days dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. June also commemorates the Stonewall Riots, which took place on June 28, 1969. Tired of constant brutality and oppression from the police, people began fighting back after a raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Three nights of resistance and unrest ensued as people fought for the right to be treated equally under the law and to live free.
We have a long road ahead of us in creating a better society, but I urge all of you to consider and realise that there is more that unites us as humans – as people – than what divides us. When there is no justice for a segment of us, then there is no justice for any of us.
Of course, we were warned that something like this was looming on the horizon. It was long the subject of board games, movies and conspiracy theories. And now here we are, many of us are confined to our homes for the foreseeable future while heroes are called upon to care for the sick and deliver supplies to the isolated. It is quite extraordinary. In the UK, if this week were a chapter of the story of the time of COVID, it would be titled “The Scramble.” It is the period of gathering supplies, fretting over school closures and transitioning large portions of the workforce from offices to homes while figuring out what to do about all the people doomed to lose their livelihoods while we hibernate from the invisible enemy.
However, there is hope. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Dr Larry Brilliant, an epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox recently said in an interview, this is an opportunity for humanity. It is ok to be afraid, but perhaps this is the giant push we need as a species to realise that there is more that unites us than divides us. Maybe this is our big opportunity to put profits and personal opinions aside and come together. Maybe, in the wake of the crisis, we will emerge to a world that is better than the one we are leaving behind.
Isn’t is amazing that compassion for others is a major theme of every major world religion? Everyone, no matter what choices or circumstances they have in life, experiences suffering. Not only is compassion featured prominently as a way to be in the world across all religions, but there is an evolutionary component. When we experience compassion, our hormones secrete oxytocin in parts of our brain activating our pleasure centres. I’m not going to promote a specific religion – or lack thereof – I’m just saying that we suffer far less when we are willing to suffer together.
Desire paths are those trodden, foot created trails you sometimes see across open spaces representing places that lack a proper paved sidewalk or footpath that people (and or goats) use to make their journeys more efficient. Perhaps they signal a certain yearning to rebel against the modern world, forge your own path and thumb your nose at the algorithms of urban planning. On one hand, they are a form of active resistance, dividing planted grassy knolls and designated open spaces, but on the other, they are literally perhaps the “path of least resistance” making traveling across these spaces perhaps easier and less time consuming. Desire paths are the physical manifestation of one of the paradoxes of being human – a longing to be your own, individual person, guided by your own desires, intuition and knowledge that is better than anyone else’s for your experience; however, longing to belong and fit in with others, to experience the stages of life in their proper order and to share your life’s path with others. Perhaps there is no real solution other than finding balance between our yearning for individuality and belonging, and maybe updated urban planning algorithms.
Say what you will about nurses, garbage collectors, or mechanics it’s obvious that were they to vanish in a puff of smoke, the results would be immediate and catastrophic. A world without teachers or dockworkers would soon be in trouble, and even one without science-fiction writers or ska musicians would clearly be a lesser place. – David Graeber
We are entering the depths of winter, when the temperature drops and the snow may fall. It is tempting to retreat inward and hibernate, but neither goats nor humans are solitary creatures. Take care of yourself, but brave the weather, there may be a delicious hot beverage out there somewhere to share with a friend!
Venture out into the cold, you never know what wonderful adventures you might find!
In our never ending quest to find true happiness and satisfaction in our lives the solution is so incredibly simple: just be kind. Believe it or not, even with all of the terrible headlines, it is in our nature to be kind. Not only is it something that has been observed in human infants, but kindness is also contagious, costs nothing and is good for your body and soul. So open your heart and open your borders – before you make up your mind shift your perspective towards kindness and compassion. You never know, it might lead you somewhere wonderful.