COVID-19 and the Green New Deal

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Tompkins Weekly 8-26-20

By Osamu Tsuda

2020 has so far been a very surreal time for many of us. Sometimes, it can be hard to remember that less than a year ago, we were still living in a time where the economy was supposedly at its peak and social distancing was not even a thing.

Yet even then, we all knew and could hear the distant rumbling of the apocalypse tsunami heading our way; we just did not know how and when it would hit us.

It was a time when things were going OK on the surface, yet we all knew of the constant injustice, corruption, racism and greed occurring just underneath that surface. The wound was festering underneath the bandage, slowly spreading, eventually leading to the bandage falling off, no longer able to hold things together.

While COVID-19 has been a struggle for the entire world, in the U.S., this was the final straw that led to total chaos, so much so, that now Americans have been shut out from most of the world.

Ironically, there are even cases where Americans are getting caught for trying to illegally cross over into Canada. It is hard to believe that we now live in an era where climate change has taken the back seat in terms of problems that need to be addressed immediately.

Yet amongst all this doom and gloom, it is always helpful to remember that even with all this human-caused chaos, our Earth continues to evolve and rotate and slowly adjust to the existing circumstances. Similarly, as the world changes, we must also adapt in order to survive and evolve, rather than resist and fear the change.

Right now, our entire world has suddenly been thrown into a new reality, and we need to recognize and adapt to this new way of life. Naturally, those who don’t change or resist it will continue to struggle. The crazy world we live in today is a product of our own behavior, and if we want to improve the existing situation, it is within our power to make that change. That is just the natural phenomenon, and unfortunately, our nation, that is the United States, has been struggling to adapt to say the least.

When comparing the U.S. to its fellow developed nations, the number of people who have contracted COVID-19 in the U.S. is 1,726 people per every 100,000 people, whereas places like Germany is 282 people per every 100,000 people. But rather than dwelling on who is to blame for this situation, no matter what your political affiliation, we all know that something is wrong and that we need to work on creating a more habitable society for ourselves and our future generations.

The overarching message of the Green New Deal (GND), beyond its utopian ideologies for striving to create a green, equitable and sustainable society, is ultimately aiming to perpetuate the message that something is wrong and that we need to create a better society for ourselves and for our future generations in order to survive.

No matter what these solutions might be, if we grind these concepts down to their very core, one of the most important things to realize is that all humans are the same, no matter their nationality, race or socioeconomic status, and by developing our sense of humility and training ourselves to be unconditionally kind toward others, we can elevate ourselves and have a significant impact in our society.

While some might disagree with this statement and the meaning of the GND, the moral of the story is that, as we enter harder times where resources are scarce and the future is uncertain, unity and mutual kindness toward one another is increasingly critical for our survival.

So, how does all of this tie into your daily routine and behavior? The answer is simple: Be kind and courteous to your fellow human beings. If you hold a grudge or feel uncomfortable around a certain person or group of people, try to reframe the situation into something simpler. You are a human being and they are a human being.

When you feel uncomfortable or angry, don’t associate it with the person. Rather, realize that it is just a passing feeling and is not caused by others. Separate yourself from your emotions and realize that it is only up to you to make your surrounding world a better place. If you are able to perpetuate kindness and take down your mental walls, this will not just create a better world for you, but also for those around you.

Osamu Tsuda is the outreach assistant at New York State Water Resources Institute at Cornell University.

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