July 10, 2020

Urgent Times

Written by: Shahin Hirji

We are living in urgent times. Times when inequality, injustice, and the frailty of our human condition challenge us to look them unflinchingly in the eye every single day. These are times when we wake up every morning to tales of polarization, plague and existential crisis and fall asleep every night to the sounds of mass protests in the masks of social distancing, to locusts and cyclones on the eve of climate change.

These things – the indelible imprint of fear and mistrust, and the subversion of everything in nature to serve humankind, have been part of our psyche for longer than recorded history. Yet, today, we find ourselves suddenly on the brink of battle with all our demons at once.

These things are not different things but one thing. Humanity’s drive to dominate everything it encounters is what we call progress. It is what we confuse with strength. It is what brings us to our knees, every time.

These things are all the same thing, just as we are all the same. We may look and sound different, but we have the same needs, the same hopes, and the same fears. And right now, as we stand on the precipice between this present and that future – we find that all our submerged fears have sprung to life. Today’s threat of mortality, carried by the touch of a loved one or the breath of a stranger. Tomorrow’s threat of climate change, mutating the world we know into a land of harsh extremes and frightening uncertainties. And the ever present threat of inequality, inequity, and injustice bearing down on us, crushing us before we have a chance to take our last breath, or our first. Before we have a chance to change the world.

We live in societies with a deficit of wisdom and respect, for each other and for the planet. But now, while there is a glimmer of both, clasp them tight and don’t let go.

In these urgent times, it is not just our burden or our right, but our responsibility to honour all the sacrifices made, the countless lives lost, the warnings lit like flares, the voices raised until they broke and shattered, to drive this stake of momentum through the darkness that threatens to engulf us, straight into the light.

These are urgent times and so they call for urgent measures. The measures of wisdom, of respect, of empathy, of humility, of unity, of peace. A recognition that we are one, and this “we” includes the earth and every single one of its creatures. That “we” live or die together, not at each others’ expense. That it is time for us, the “we”, to heal, to regenerate, inside and out.

It is time to dig deep. To change something. To change everything.

It is time. And that time is running out.

That time is now.