By Tom Murray — Feature Columnist of Sustainability Snippets, Healthy Indoors Magazine —
Welcome to November!
We have been through a lot this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has been relentless, pounding us month after month, and taking from us the lives of our close friends and relatives. It has created an existential dread that appears, at times, to be unshakeable. With each passing moment, we have struggled to keep the faith. With each passing day, we have waited anxiously for a cure. With each passing month, we have watched our economy crumble. In times such as these we look to our national leaders for hope and calm. That too has been stolen from us. Our scientific experts have been silenced. Our healthcare providers and hospitals have been overwhelmed and our local leaders have had to find creative ways to maintain our good health and safety. And despite all of this, we, the people, stand tall and continue to hang together as a national community.
Earlier this month we elected a new president. As the final tallies were counted, I realized that I had been figuratively holding my breath since February when COVID-19 first reached our shores. And, watching this democratic process unfold on the news, I realized that I was not alone. You could almost hear the collective exhale.
For those of you who have been reading my offerings every month, you know that I write them with one eye focused on children. I have 11 grandchildren and not a day goes by that I don’t think of their welfare and their future. Over the last several months, I have watched their young parents struggle to find balance economically and socially while keeping their children’s fears and sorrows at bay. When the election was called in favor of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, all of those pent-up emotions came spilling forth and the whole world focused for a moment on our most precious resource, our children. On CNN, commentator Van Jones broke into tears as he said, “With this decision, it is easier to be a dad. It’s easier to tell your kids that character matters.” Moms and Dads of mixed marriages were hugging their children and hoisting them on their shoulders. Their fears of racial retaliation drained freely from their hearts and souls with a renewed hope that things were about to change for the better. Their little ones enjoyed the party not yet fully understanding its impact on their young lives. Foreign leaders welcomed America back to the fold and there was jubilation in the streets. Our Democracy once again withstood the storm.
I know that the excitement of the moment and its historical significance will wane over the next several weeks and months, but it does feel good to enjoy it for now. So, during this month of thanksgiving, allow me to send out a few sustainability thank-you cards.
First, to our youth. Your passion and your love for this planet is palpable. You grew up understanding environmental sustainability and thanks to you the United States will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and once again join the fight to slow the advances of climate change. Moreover, your votes will lead to the channeling of much needed resources to efforts supporting the development and expansion of renewable energy which will reduce carbon emissions and create jobs.
Second, to American women. Your determination and grit made us all very proud. Thanks to you, we will keep the light shining on social and environmental justice concerns. You have become the backbone of our society and a beacon for every young girl in America to follow.
Third, to our healthcare providers. Your caring spirit and unwavering dedication reflect the true American spirit. Thanks to you we will now be able to unshackle science, rejoin the World Health Organization and find a safe and effective cure for COVID-19.
Finally, to parents. You have been asked to endure every imaginable challenge to ensure that your families are safe, hale and hearty. Thanks to you, we will now be able to regain our balance and perhaps, at the same time, create new and better pathways to a new normal focused on sustainability.
The real work begins now. We have lost much during these times, but we have also learned much. While it will be like turning the Queen Mary around in a bathtub, I know that we are up for the challenge.
So, as we enter the season where family and friends come together to give thanks, celebrate our lives, enjoy family lore and laugh at our foibles, though we may need to remain in the virtual world a bit longer, we can do so with a new sense of hope. Better times are coming.
Happy Holidays everyone and stay safe.
All views expressed here are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with whom I have been, am now or will be affiliated