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Our Covid-19 Empathy Reset

You can only reset the present by pulling back the curtain on the past.

The initial shock of the Covid virus was to create an international air of despair. Without a doubt and without an option, we -- all of humanity -- were certainly caught "flat-footed" and were forced to stop what we were doing and pay attention to this deadly virus. We were, under threat of death, universally forced to take a break from our personal realities and reconsider and reassess not only our personal but communal priorities, as well.

The over a million in just the USA who have suffered and died are a tremendously sad tragedy which, hopefully, we will all be able to avoid any similar catastrophe for the rest of our lives. However, if we don't take advantage of this "break" from our current realities and pay heed to the much deeper catastrophe charging down on us, the long term price we will all pay is inconceivably greater! This pandemic will become like the opening scene in a three act tragedy with, "... all the world as a stage.".

Of course, I'm talking about the anthropogenic Climate Crisis which has been growing and increasingly threatening humankind since the beginning of the Age of Industrialization. We have blithely, and mostly unwittingly, been turning our once pristine life-supporting garden into a filthy garbage dump surrounded by an effluent-filled ocean of human waste. The vast majority of us are, from moment to moment, being forced to live with, and almost routinely confront, this lack of respect -- which a relatively few well-heeled and in positions of power among us prefer to ignore, much less even consider addressing.

The distractions abound! The critical attention of the masses is continually being redirected in too many ways to relate. Some of it is self-induced, but way too much of our focus is manipulated by humans who lack the vital survival emotion of empathy for others. We must all turn away from the many incredibly talented malignant magicians who are constantly vying for our attention, with their various intriguing slights of hands. Instead, we need to look down and focus on the enormous warming puddle of expanding toxic filth which is rapidly beginning to flow around our armpits and now threatening our chins!

So, what are we all to do, now that we are embroiled in an enforced state of suspension? With so many, if not most, of the once critical issues, both local as well as international, now having been forcibly put on hold -- can we take advantage of this pause and reassess our priorities? Shouldn't we stick our heads up and take a look around to see what has been working and what hasn't? Isn't it critical that we use this time to restructure our values and reassess our objectives with our primary focus being on our universal survival?

It is way past time -- but just barely in time -- to put to use one of our exclusive human skill sets, and that is the ability to first imagine an idea and then manage a project which will manifest that idea from conception to successful implementation. Obviously, we humans have way too often used this quite unique ability to bring us to our current sorry state of affairs. However, very often the solution to a problem resides within the source of the problem. With that in mind -- and just a six month window of opportunity (starting mid 2021), shouldn't we ALL now "conceive" a solution?

Before we can find a solution, we must first identify the problem. At its most extremely simple base level, the problem is that we humans, through our activity on Earth, have rather inadvertently created a layer of particulate matter -- mostly CO2 -- to form in our Earth's upper atmosphere and create a barrier which is causing reflective sunlight to be trapped and thus heating up the globe. The cause and ramifications of this are way too vast to be explained here, but can be more fully explored by clicking on this link.

While the generally wide-spread consensus is that the best way to correct the situation is to simply ban fossil fuels -- which has been the primary source of generating CO2 -- it is becoming more obvious that simply eliminating the cause is not the most efficient nor expedient method of actually removing the barrier and repairing the accrued damage. In fact, if we simply pursue that single simplified solution, we could very likely end up not inserting any more fossil fuels into the atmosphere -- but our universal Climate Crisis fueled destruction would still be raging along.

In 2017, a highly regarded environmentalist (with six honorary doctorates) named Paul Hawkin, produced and edited an important environmental book. In it, he described the results of a team of several hundred environmentalist, scientist, researchers, teachers, etc., which he had assembled and charged with the task of finding and updating the most effective methods of not only stopping the Climate Crisis, but reversing its effects. Within a few years, this team of experts had produced, Drawdown. It not only itemized all of the steps necessary to expediently and efficiently stop and reverse the Climate Crisis, but had pointed out the tremendous international economic advantages of pursuing their route to saving all life on this, our only planet.

So, now that we have an extremely simplified description of the problem and a very comprehensive solution, how do we go about taking on the most difficult aspect, that being the implementation? It should be pointed out, regarding the concept of shutting down the fossil fuel industries, that most of those ineffectual ideas involve major decisions made by large corporations at the behest and eventual cooperation with various governments. Thankfully, that is not entirely the case with the Drawdown Project!

The experts who created the Drawdown Project have put together a chart of 80 solutions which describe various methods of reining in the Climate Crisis. For example, here are the top ten SCENARIO 2 methods, ranked by maximized gigatons of Co2 reduction:

As with this sample, many of the full 80 solutions need to be addressed at a local level by local citizens -- all around the world. This is a much more expedient process with a new embedded sense of international community being a welcome and necessary byproduct. Rather than standing by while we wait for some corporation or government to come up with another time wasting semi-failure of a "solution," we can all get locally involved to accelerate the various recovery processes.

Now we come to the final and most critical aspect of reversing the apocalypse which is, in less than a dozen years, destined to befall us all. What kind of management will take on this most important project in the entire history of humankind? While I can proffer some management suggestions, I won't presume to assert a firm answer to this final aspect of a solution. Of course, since Paul Hawkin has already assembled an experienced, qualified and sincerely dedicated team to deal with this issue, it would seem logical that the members of The Drawdown Project would be ideal candidates to continue providing the necessary ongoing research. Also, it would seem to me, that at the top of the management pyramid we should see representatives of all the major countries of the world. This should not only contribute to international agreement but multi-level participation, as well.

As for startup funding, it would seem to me that initially a very straight forward formula could be used to assess a fee on each of the 195 countries of the world which would be based on the percentage of total pollution which they each have historically, and are currently, producing. In time, according to the Drawdown projections, income from the various planet saving techniques would not only be self-supporting, but quite "profitable".

Because of the various enormous pressures which will certainly accrue on the members of any such organization, there MUST be strict security and transparency measures put in place -- at the very onset. The selection process should include complete background security and psychopathy checks for all candidates, as they must each have a documented record of open honesty, high moral character as well as a history of sincere and proven dedication to public service.

Another critical aspect which must be addressed, is the psychological history of all candidates regarding their demonstrated history of, or lack of -- empathy and conscience for their actions. Since we are dealing with the prospect of a final mass extinction event, it will not be acceptable to allow any human who takes on that responsibility to be devoid of the necessary emotions of empathy for others and a conscience for any impropriety. In that regard, research has shown that three of the most dominant characteristics of sociopathic and psychopathic individuals is that they lack empathy and a conscience -- as well as the fact that they are quite predominately male. Therefore, since women are our instinctually motivated caretakers, besides being primarily responsible for the loving development of the worlds children -- AND since they are also the most vulnerable as well as being the majority of the population of the world -- they should be exclusively considered as candidates to control the management panel tasked with addressing our Climate Crisis.

Without question, the world is full of highly qualified female candidates. A few examples who readily come to mind are -- Christine Legarde, President of the European Central Bank; retired Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel; the young Ex-Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern; Massachusetts Senator of the United States, Elizabeth Warren; Environmentalist and Activist from Sweden, Greta Thunberg; Representative Karen Bass, Democrat from California; Primatologist Jane Goodall -- as well as many other female members of the Drawdown Project -- to name but a few.

An off repeated phrase comes to mind, "Out of chaos comes opportunity." We are certainly in the throes of chaos and now is the time to seek out, develop and take advantage of the opportunities which are waiting to be internationally seized. If we -- all of the people of the world -- take full advantage of the times we are living in and find a unity of spirit and direction, we can massively reset so many of the cruel injustices which have plagued us ever since we first wiggled out of the primordial ooze and began to move around on the land.

In the process of streamlining our focus for the benefit of all life, perhaps we can rid ourselves of the long-standing inequalities that our masses have always had to endure. Another phrase comes to mind, "Injustice for one is injustice for all." If we use this opportunity to demonstrate, once and for all time, that we, the people of the world, not only need but are ready to build new models for living in peace and harmony on a planet that is finally filled with humanity for all -- and not just a few.

With that in mind, it must be taken into consideration that the assessment of any political/economic system should be measured by the associated usage and/or definition of just one operative word -- value. How that word is defined by the ultimate true output of the following described systems is highly relevant to the overall and long-term humanity of said system.

At their most basic core there are, excluding authoritarianism, basically just two systems to consider.

1. The current political/economic system in place in the US is a corporate-controlled, capitalistic system that dominates their democracy with results that are measured by the value generated through ever-increasing levels of financial and thus political power. The major obstacle that the US faces -- in numerous aspects -- is the fact that the US is the only major country in the world that has legalized political bribery, with the Supreme Court passing into law the Citizens United Case of 2010.

2. The other system, which has variants around the world, is composed of a democracy that legally dominates a tightly regulated form of capitalism as well as democratically controlled corporate and cooperative systems -- which are primarily mandated to create member directed value in the form of broad advancements for all of the participants in the democracy.

Fate has provided us with a very rare opportunity, disguised as a universal catastrophe. How we individually evaluate our current circumstance is, of course, up to each of us. However, consider that we can now choose to collectively harness our unified will and initiate long overdue major actions to improve on all that we have been given so far. Or, we can passively -- through inaction -- allow the retardation of humanity's momentum to painfully and fitfully fade away into barely identifiable particles of eternally historic dust.

Until we first acknowledge and then nullify the very source of our vast unwitting struggles,
we shall frustrate, wallow, and waste ourselves confronting a death spiral of ramifications.

"Hi Terry,
I'd give you an A+ on your disquisitions re psychopathy, if you'd taken my McGill courses in personology."

Dr. Frank Dumont
Full Professor, Department of Educational and Psychology
Director of the Ph.D. program in his field
McGill University, Montreal, Canada

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Created June 1, 2020 and updated as needed.