Solstice, Endings, Justice, and Hope

July 3, 2020

Greetings to everyone all over the world.  Under normal circumstances, I would have written this in time to publish for Summer Solstice on June 21. I tried to do that. But all the usual thoughts surrounding this important time of year paled in comparison to the white privilege I am carrying and the depths of confusion, questioning, and uncertainty confounding me.  There’s a virus going around, for Pete’s sake, and after all, our farm still needs to feed people and my family deserves to make a living, and isn’t trying to do it sustainably responsible enough?   I’m still there, wading through all of that uncertainty, but feel obligated to reach out somehow, for my family, for our community, and for my own sanity.

So, here I am, just after the year has turned around again, trying to create some connection between the power and beauty of solstice and the painful turmoil surrounding us in such tumultuous times.  In past, I’ve waxed romantically about balance around the time of equinox, but somehow, balance seems an even greater force today.

Our journey round the sun takes our tilted planet only so far before finally we experience our longest day, and then nights begin to lengthen:  a coming round, back toward balance again.  We’re told an addict must “hit rock bottom” before turning around into lasting recovery.  I can only assume that Covid must have some like trajectory;  surely there is some point at which things must turn around?

Living on a farm requires awareness of seasons, of life and death, of balance.  Certainly this planet has been reacting to the pressures we’ve put on it for some time now, and we are learning that enough is enough when it comes to degradation, resource depletion, and pushing ecosystems to extremes.  We’re reaping what we’ve sown in so many ways already, and although I’ve no proof, so some will challenge this, I know in my bones that Covid is just one more circumstance arising from a disrupted system out of balance, having lost the checks that otherwise would curb weird and wildly invasive forms of life to which we have little resistance.  And mark my words, Covid will not be the last of these.

Are we paying attention here?  Coming around, moving in a new direction.  I ask you now, can it be that our nation has finally awakened to recognize the injustice within?  Is it possible that finally we are starting to move in a new direction?  Recent interviews with those who have been on the cusp of civil rights movements in the past seem to reinforce that this time it’s different.  What percentage of average persons have at least heard the phrase “white privilege” today?  When have corporations spoken out publicly as they are today?

Climate change, Covid, racism:  an underlying theme here is fear and our responses to it.  We are all one race, we humans.  But living in fear of each other has caused selfishness and desecration of our own, and that’s allowed a complacency and mindless willingness to desecrate the planet as well.  But we must recognize that when one falls, we all fall, and seeing ourselves in others might force our recognition that in resource exploitation, we are tearing down our very own home.

Have we gone far enough?  Have we hit rock bottom?  Perhaps it’s time to effect change together as a whole community, sharing and including.  Perhaps we could learn to expand our tribes to become citizens of a planet, instead of individual ethnicities, states, countries, or continents.

I realize this blog is supposed to be about farming and sharing with potential customers who we are and why food production matters.  But Lick Skillet is also about education and community-building, and I believe that sustainability is in question on more levels than just those of natural resources and climate change.  Indeed, our very humanity is at stake here.

So much is out of our control.  Solstice comes whether we like it or not.  I don’t believe in predestination, or fate, or any other dogma that allows us, the most powerful species on the planet, to shirk our responsibility for ethical, humane behavior and leave it to someone else.  But I do believe that we ourselves, as a species, have broken our community and created injustice and dysfunction, and as well, we can choose to act to bring around the balance again. 

We can choose to live here as an integral part of the ecosystem, instead of living outside it, and destroying it.  And we can choose to effect change in our tribal behaviours and see all men and women created equal as our brothers and sisters in this planet’s journey.  I wish all of you safety and health.  I challenge us all personally to insist on continuing the current national reform/justice discussion until real and lasting change occurs.  Why not step up, take on our role as the most powerful species, bring these longest days to an end, and head our global community back toward balance again?

Shannon Miller

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