This is no modest proposal; it is neither ironic nor absurd. And yet, I do want to start with cannibalism. There are many ways to describe an apocalypse, but in Amerika, eating each other seems to be the favorite. Zombies, marooned families, people lost on islands, eating human flesh seems to be our go-to version of the worst-case scenario, and we tend to jump to worst-case scenarios very quickly. I have to wonder whether this is because we have constructed a society on the fundamental tenet that that’s what humans do — consume each other, not only when the plane goes down in the Alps or on a desert island, but as a normal course of affairs — the winners in Amerika have always eaten the losers.
In 2020 this has reached new heights, but its absurdity has also been revealed, at least for those who prefer living together to dying apart. At almost every juncture this year, in practically every decision made by our “leaders,” we have rejected or ignored all the rational, effective responses for dealing with a pandemic. Perhaps it is time to use our imaginations on how to survive instead of on how to go extinct. Perhaps it is time to use an apocalypse for what it literally means — an uncovering, a lifting of a veil — so that we can learn something from our mistakes instead of just repeating them in ever more harrowing and devastating crises.
My proposal: let’s do 2020 over again. After all, we spent the year stuck in a rut and are exactly where we started: no wiser, no smarter, and no healthier (in fact, arguably much worse off). Since we haven’t made the usual advances this year in depleting the world of “resources” (and consequently making it uninhabitable) in what we like to pretend is “progress” or “economic growth,” and since our calendars are blank anyway, let’s reuse and recycle this year, and perhaps we can reduce the suffering this time instead of adding to it. No corporate exploitation of workers, no police killings of people of color, no science denying, no alienating the rest of the world, and, most importantly, no more incompetent leaders with nothing on at all. If we simply move on to 2021, we are bound to wishful think ourselves right into the same old mess again with our eyes and ears and hearts and minds all closed to truth.
News of the Coronavirus, and then the virus itself, reached our shores just as this year was beginning. With it came an opportunity to learn and grow as a nation. We missed that opportunity almost entirely this time around the sun, so why not give ourselves another chance. But we certainly don’t have to wait until the end of the year to get started. There are so many things we could be doing right now to prepare for a better version of 2020 and, contrary to what ignoramuses on the Internet would have you believe, problems aren’t resolved miraculously or by divine intervention; it takes thinking, collaboration and serious effort to make things right.
So let’s lift the veil and start asking the tough questions: what kind of world have we created? How could we make a more equitable, just and sustainable one? Let’s lift the veil on all we have constructed so we can find within us the core of humanity that makes healing and reconciliation possible. To this end, I propose that we redo 2020 before moving on to 2021. Let’s not take anything for granted, let’s not take things lying down, in fact, let’s not take it at all. Instead, let’s make the world a better place. We could choose leaders and representatives who reflect our values and consult experts, for example, or we could even try doing a year without the usual leadership structure, given how well that’s been working for us. We could learn how to feed ourselves instead of ingesting the factory-made toxic slime they proffer us. I say a chicken in every yard and a bicycle in every garage. And instead of sitting at desks in prison-like virus incubators, our children could learn how to grow food, how to repair bicycles, how to build things, how to cook, how to sew . . . (and maybe instead of wanting to pawn them off on others so we can go to work making a profit for our corporate bosses, we could learn along side them — for the mutual benefit of the ones we love and live with).
Worried about economic stagnation? Why not put our efforts into an economic stimulus that we create ourselves, cooperatively? Clearly, the wealth of our nation is not meant to provide for those who have generated it; instead it has been stolen from us by the entrenched white oligarchic racist misogynists (WORMs) who monger their miserable fairy tales of bootstraps and trickling turnip blood . . .
And above all else, let’s finally just stop listening to the man in the White House (any man) and start listening to each other — especially grandmother, before we lose her too.