By Letter to the Editor on May 2, 2020.
Questions are being asked today about how soon can we go back to work. We have had the chance to question ourselves about how we value life, our daily activities, jobs, time with family, and the economy. During our isolation time we might have questioned whether jobs and the economy are the most important things. Are we so conditioned to making money and consuming things that we have little patience for time alone? Do we find ourselves unconsciously driven to some kind of activity? Has our society taught us to value busyness above anything? Is the economy more valued than life, or health?
Our western society talks about the higher value of freedom; how often do we think about the use of that freedom? Have we made ourselves so used to consuming that we don’t know what to do with free time? Is it a good idea to risk trade, or trade risk through globalization? Are cheap products from Asia vs. better jobs, and higher-quality local production keeping our money circulating locally worth reassessment? Where do we draw the line?
The word “crisis” is thrown loosely around pandemic, environment and the economy. Capitalism compels us to own nature, rather than to see ourselves as a part of it. Does money make us rich? Is privatizing everything contributing to a healthy way to think about life? Can we allow music, food, relationships, the simpler things of life to make us richer? Buddha taught the four noble truths: know the suffering; abandon the causes of suffering; apply the path to the cessation of suffering; know that suffering can end. Maybe we could spend more time thinking about the values that keep us running faster and faster; and take some time to look at where we are going.