These are distressing and chaotic times—and not just with politics. The events that led to the violent insurrection at the US Capitol are shocking, but they didn’t happen overnight. Stoked by years of misinformation and divisive rhetoric, and heightened by the abandonment of science and civility, yesterday’s fateful events provide an opportunity to push the reset button.
Political strife is perennial, and the very foundations of our country and its evolution have been catalyzed by peaceful, and sometimes violent, protest. While our political systems must be equipped to handle dissent, they must also rise to face the monumental challenges facing humankind. Climate chaos, rampant zoonotic disease, and societal collapse remain the horizon if our systems of global governance fail to take these threats seriously and address their root causes.
But there is hope. We the people, confronted by chaos, are choosing to prioritize the planet; plant-based diets are becoming mainstream, and it is no longer ‘counter culture’ to question what we eat, what we wear, and who we harm with our consumer choices. It is no longer just those at the fringes of culture fighting for clean oceans, intact forests, or freedom for sentient animal lives that we trade, confine or exploit for commercial gain. Defending our planetary home, our life support systems, will unite us—it must.
We have the ability to stop the spread of zoonotic disease and prevent the next pandemic. We have the technology to reform our addiction to fossil fuels. We have the knowledge to restore our wildlands and protect imperiled species. And most importantly, we have the power of choice. The power of the people is the greatest force of change on this planet. Our culture won’t be defined by the aberrant behavior of a mob but by our collective action over the next decade to create a livable planet for the next generation.