Well, things sure have changed in the last few weeks. When Ani and I arrived from Europe to Indonesia, Corona Virus was just a rumour. Now, its full fledged reality. My ultimate frisbee tournament, then pickup, were the first things dear to my heart to be shut down. Now as countries around the world close up their borders and shutter their instituions, life here in Indonesia is catching up to the global compression. So much more of our lives that we held dear are falling by the way side.
Our ecobrick trainer training sessions are continuing, giving us a glimpse of how things are in other parts of Indonesia. We had twenty participants who shared their stories the other night. In Bogor, that was one of the first places hit in Indonesia, things have been shut down for a while now. The military patrols the streets there. Our friend tells of a neighbour 300m down the road who had passed away. Here in Bali, the shutdown is catching up day by day. A few days ago, cafes and restaurants in Ubud were still open. Now they are closed. Now we’re hearing that in our banjar (i.e. neighbourhood) we need to stay put and that road blocks are going up between areas.
For me its been a moment of some despair for another reason though: I can palpably sense the shift in attention of the world from climate and environmental concern. Of course, it is understandable, people and governments are rightly focused on health and immediate safety. But there’s deeper dynamics going on I feel. Shortly before the virus really hit, I picked up the only book in Ani’s Uncle’s apartment– the Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein. I spent some time flipping through it while recovering from jet lag and paper writing.
When I was in Palestine, the night before the second Antifida broke out, when agitation was running high, I went over to visit my friend. I remember seeing something dark move on the wall. Curious, I turned on my flashlight and was shocked by the size and blackness of a palm size scorpion poised on the wall. I had been there about half a year, and had never seen anything like it. I remember, sitting and staring at it thinking to myself… whoa… this is not a good sign.
Could that one book in the apartment also have been a sign?
The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein describes how capitalism exploits crises for market gains. She gives examples like the aftermaths of hurricane Katrina, of the tsunami that hit Sri Lanka, and the Iraq war systematically increased the disparity between rich and poor to the detriment of healthy society and environment. while citizens are excessively distracted (emotionally and physically) to engage and develop an adequate response, and resist effectively. The book suggests that crisis were exploited as opportunities to push through policies that benefit the elite, their companies and multinational corporations. Alas, I’ve been in several crisis and I’ve seen with my own eyes how it goes.
Of course, it can go both ways. These moments can also be seized for regenerative reformations as well. It is up to us.