We all need to become better humans, better citizens of the World if we want to have a chance. We’ve been lousy tenants and the Earth, our landlord, is complaining and is thinking of kicking us out. There is no amount of poudre de perlinpinpin that is going to do the trick. We have to change. Fast.
Poudre de perlinpinpin??
Hum?! What is this “poudre de Perlinpinpin“?
La poudre de Perlinpinpin is a magic potion which may or may not include stardust and unicorn poop (personal recipe here!). It is a cure-all elixir, a magical solution to all problems. Apparently the corresponding expression in English is “snake oil”, but clearly, such expression does not have the same charm as the French expression!
Needless to say that the only guarantee you have when using Perlinpinpin powder is that it will cure nothing. You’re probably lucky if it doesn’t kill you!
OK this is cute! Where am I going with this, you may wonder.
Life lessons to be learned
I tuned in an online conference the other day, about the lessons to be learned from the current crisis. It sounded super interesting and I was eager to hear authors & specialists on such topic. I thought they were going to share actionnable ideas, things we need to do, etc. to move forward. I thought those experts were going to be able to put words on things I couldn’t. Even maybe blow my mind by the innovative ideas they have.
Yeah, I was stupid and lost an hour listening to them debate on wether money needed to be invested like this or like that. The lesson learned by one of the speakers was that he had been wrong twice in his predictions, congratulation man…
Not once, did they provide any advise on what people could do on their own. Based on the comment section, I was not the only one feeling like the point was missed.
And it got me thinking of the poudre de Perlinpinpin!
Should crisis teach you something?
It does bear the question wether crisis should teach us things individually and collectively!
I believed so until now, but maybe all the expressions like “learning from your mistakes” “Your worst mistakes are your best teacher” “Do not try to fix your mistakes, learn from them” are just expressions and that none of us actually know what to do with them?
OK, it does apply sometimes…
Learning from our mistakes is something that works, when the cause to effect link is simple. Put your hand on a burning hot stove and you will learn to not put it again, at least not intentionally.
It gets difficult when, for example, other people are involved. If you’ve been betrayed once by someone, you are likely to forgive them. If they betray you time and time again, then only, you might stop believing their lies.
Learning from our mistakes becomes impossible it seems, when the cause to effect link is complex and involves others.
Put close to 8 Billion people in the equation and it is truly impossible.
So we revert to groups of smart people to guide us. These people study complex issues and come up with solutions. And with the same data, time and time again, groups of such experts have come up with radically opposite solutions. Because those experts are like the rest of us, influenced by their own experience, their own believes.
The people who adhere to one solution or the other solution can become very vocal. Clivage rises and the ones who still don’t know which side to believe end up choosing one, just because…
It’s a f*cking mess!
So just think for yourself?
It’s easy to say you need to think for yourself. Most people do but with a limited capacity to analyse impossibly complex problems. Yeah, yeah, me included obviously.
And really, even when we know the solution is A, when we’re tired, stressed, financially distressed or else, we might still choose B.
A may be a healthy diner and B getting take out from a fast-food chain. We all know A is a better choice, yet we choose B because…whatever reasons.
A may be reading a book, exercising, studying and B binge watching a show on Netflix. A can be doing a job you love but with little financial reward, B working a job you hate but with a large paycheck…
Yet, those A versus B exemples are somehow simple.
For a lot of the choices we make, on how we live our lives, have far more impacts than we could ever realize. And again in a world with almost 8 Billion people making the same choices daily, it becomes a global problem, a world crisis.
Thinking of solutions to global problems, by ourselves, is pretty much impossible and relying on experts has not lead to optimal solutions. Doing nothing has lead to doomsday so what’s next?
No no, surely there are thing we are learning?
Let’s look into the current crisis and the lessons we are supposed to learn…
So let’s be clear: the below lessons are not from me. I google the topic and looked at what articles were saying. Because again, we all hear, “the current crisis will teach us something”, “that there are lessons to be learn“… It turns out, overall, very few seems to know what those lessons are and are just using the words ‘lessons to be learned‘ without giving any of such lessons.
Everyone and then, an article will give an indication on something we’ve learned from the current crisis?
The number lesson learned, from the coronavirus crisis, so far, seems to be the importance of putting health care and research first.
OK that’s kind of good. Although it feels like treating the symptom not solving the problem to the root (climate change in case it was still not clear).
The second & maybe most important lesson learned is that clearly humans can change their social behavior, rapidly and decisively, if necessary.
This seemed almost promising. But such promises faded really fast, after that…
The 3rd interesting ‘lesson’ was in the way people now talked about low paid job workers and how they are the backbones of nations: health care workers, cashiers, truck drivers, cleaners, fire fighters etc… Will this change the way they are treated daily? Is this going to change their paycheck? Doubtful.
A 4th and interesting one, which came up only once or twice but is worth mentioning because it might pick up, is about our relationship to food. Cooking from scratch, thinking of food waste, becoming aware of food supplied chain… It could have a long lasting impact… maybe!
Any other “lessons learned” I found? Yes, a lot were about the first response to the crisis and then a few were… hum… well… I’ll let you judge with the below list:
- the vulnerable & poorest people are likely to be the most at risk (what!?! big news!)
- health system, government and businesses were unprepared
- closing borders and nationalism has been on the rise (obviously!)
- the need for early warning system for future crises (I think we have that for the current environmental crisis we are not dealing with!)
- the need for countries to work together to find solutions (yep!)
- there are risks in our supply chains (well let’s get used to it!)
- the importance of communication & trust (no comment)
- the need for shops to move online (whoa! mind blowing)
- the need for Broadband access to the internet (If our internet speed is the only thing we care about, we are definitively doomed!)
- the need for a stronger cybersecurity ecosystem
These seems to be recurrent topics of ‘lessons learned‘ in articles which main topic is the post-Covid world.
However, I soon realized that these points weren’t really ‘lessons’, but rather just simple observations. Yes, half of the world mostly respected the confinement rules. That’s great, really. But will the same people change their behaviors in the long run?… probably not.
And it got me thinking of the poudre de Perlinpinpin!
It’s probably my fault that I was expecting lessons to be learned from this crisis to be life changing lessons. Big, important, even mind blowing lessons maybe. Lessons that would lead to major changes in the world… Silly me!
What is this new & improved post-COVID World?
A world full of possibilities including one where priorities and engagements are drastically reorganized.
Personally, I still can’t grasp how different it will be. As mentioned in one of my previous piece, I have hopes for a better World, a greener World but it really doesn’t seems like anyone can truly picture it, let alone find actions that would lead to it.
I’ve also read that it could be a world where market value is in line with people value with a hopeful & charming concept of reorganized hierarchy of value. That we need structural changes, without explaining what those are. Energetic transition, stopping funding fossil fuel… I can only suppose.
Unfortunately, we are most likely heading toward a period where companies will maximise their production to catch up on lost time and create what has been named, retaliatory pollution. We know fossil fuel industries have not stopped investing in infrastructure, they plan to produce more and more plastic instead, when what we need is less plastic and more renewable energy. This is just an example. It just shows we are naturally not heading toward a better world…
We’ll need intentional changes, strong commitments and drastic measures.
And I’m starting to guess that we’re going to have to invent this new World and that we can only start with changing our own lives.
Meaningful ways to be a better human & change the world
It’s hard to see what difference one person can make. It’s always been hard and now it partially feels futile. Yet, it’s never been more important.
If you have walked this path already, congratulations to you! If you are looking for very specific advices, the below points might be a little too broad.
Change your lifestyle
You need to educate yourself on the effects and repercussions of your own lifestyle.
Think whether what you eat, wear, and use – cause damage to yourself, your surrounding environment or the environment as a whole. Change what you can, slowly but surely. You can do a no buy year challenge for a start. It’s life changing! Following a detailed budget is another unexpected way to become mindful of your habits.
Study the impact of your house, upgrade what you can, if you can. Consider moving. Plan things. Might sound extreme but it really isn’t if you think about it and tackle it as a project.
With regards to your transportation mode(s), you may think you can not live whitout a car but the truth is that many people do! If you plan things well and chose to live in a neighborhood where you can work and do your shopping, you won’t need a car 90% of the time.
Reconsider your vacation trips across the world. I mean flying in a post Covid World is nothing to look forward to anyway, so that should be easy!
Also think of your entertainments. Don’t support the poor treatment of animals or people.
About your food again, do I really need to mention that going vegan or at least significantly reducing your animal product intake is paramount?!
Some of these changes will feel hard at first. But believe me when I say, you’ll feel much better after a while. Some of such changes will be forced on you at one point or another anyway, so you might as well anticipate and handle the changes at your own pace.
Personally, I will be tackling the housing issue later this year. We’ll see how that goes.
Talk about it
I never felt this could truly make a difference but I’ve had so many friends telling me that such and such discussions we had, had made a lasting impact on their lives, that I had to reconsider this.
It’s not obvious at first, it’s often discouraging. It only shows little by little. But it seems to work.
Don’t force your family and friend. Speak from the heart and you will influence them to consider their own impact & choices.
Education is really key to becoming a better human for this planet! Things change fast, experts’ advises evolve. Technology evolves. New options become available…
I can tell you that on my vegan journey, many things have changed. Assumptions I had, turned out to be false. Why the hell is wine not vegan!?!
So I keep reading and learning and making small changes for the better. What I think is better in that moment. Knowing that I might need to make further changes!
Invest your money in green financial products
There are now green banks. Banks which investments are based on environmental and societal criteria. It’s not a perfect world out there but it’s getting better and better on that front.
Support green initiatives
Supporting local business is great as long as these are ethical & green. I’m certainly not going to start supporting the local butcher, the little shop that imports plastic crap or the spa that use only products tested on animals.
Choose wisely. Do your best. Do without, if in doubt!
Find local initiative and help
Well, I feel a bit guilty on that front because I’ve never really donated much of my time. I’ve got plenty on my own plate so the only support I give is financial. Financial support is better than nothing I tell myself!
If you are more of an extrovert, helping physically might be a good option. Do what works best for you, what is best aligned with your values.
Well, I guess I am an advocate for the degrowth mouvement. I said it. I don’t see any other way for Westerners to make things better. I’m simple minded, I know. Thank you very much.
We have had too much of everything for too long, and it is now, more than time, to consume less stuffs and focus on what is truly important: healing the damages most of us have unwillingly and blindly caused to our environment.
Start with your own choices, your own life and create a ripple effect to the ones around you. Try it, it might actually work… better than la poudre de Perlinpinpin!