Coping with the Current Challenges (Spring 2020 editorial)
These are trying times! Are you feeling the stress that’s going viral? As I write this letter, there are a lot of uncertainties looming on the horizon. All over the world, a number of events and services are being suspended. We are getting tons of emails about ways to cope with the virus that has spread so rapidly on all the continents and in most countries.
We live in a globalized world. Events and issues from one part of the world impact the rest of the world. To contain this virus, governments and institutions have restricted travel, cancelled public gatherings and closed schools and libraries. Everyone’s schedule has been interrupted. Please know that these measures are in the best interest of us all and our human society.
Since no immunization is available for Coronavirus at this time, the best strategy is to slow its spread. That way our health care and social systems are not stretched to their breaking points. We can reduce the risk of getting the virus and spreading it in the community by realizing that for now, prevention is the best cure. To reduce a rapid spread of the virus:
* Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if no water is available.
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
* Avoid close contact with those who show the symptoms.
* Stay home if you have a cough, fever, or illness.
* Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw it away in the trash. No tissue? Cough into your elbow.
* Clean and disinfect surfaces frequently touched.
Doctors are also suggesting that we follow best practices for social distancing, including staying away from others who are sick, washing hands often, and avoiding crowds. No hand-shakes, kisses, or hugs to greet people. Recommended social distance is six feet.
The Coronavirus is not deadly for most people, especially the young and healthy. If we are helping each other, there is no reason to feel desperate. We have been through tough times, as communities and countries, many times in human history, and we have pulled out of those insurmountable situations. (On pages 24-25, read about the Dust Bowl crisis of the 1930s). We are in this together—as a nation and as the whole world. There is no reason to be in a panic mode even if this COVID-19 epidemic has been called a global pandemic by the WHO (World Health Organization). It just reminds us to spare no efforts to overcome this. Let’s do our part in helping contain it.
One tried and true way to feel hopeful and in charge, is to be involved in doing something positive.
In February, about 60 youth, ages 9 to 18, and their mentors came together for an Environmental Leadership Summit. The weekend was organized by PeaceJam Northwest at the University of Oregon and was focused on the urgent challenges facing the environment we live in. Youth have shown strong leadership around the world in addressing these issues, and the event offered them a chance to inspire and inform each other. There were workshops, action planning using sustainable business models, interactive events, and a keynote address by Kiran Oommen, one of the youth plaintiffs in the landmark climate lawsuit Juliana vs United States brought by Our Children’s Trust. It was an inspiring gathering that encouraged cooperation and community. PeaceJam is an international education organization guided by over a dozen Nobel Peace Prize winners and with programs in 40 countries. Their mission is to inspire young people to create projects at a local level that have a global impact.
In the weeks ahead, you might find that your school is cancelled, and that you are spending days at home. You can think of that time as your “individual study time.” Read books from neighbors and e-books from the library, write stories, learn some new skills like cooking or practice musical instruments, sing, and walk or jog outdoors. Your time at home can be devoted to do things that you always wanted to learn or practice.
Our Spring 2020 issue features nature awareness and nature appreciation. As you browse through you will see scores of nature haiku, many with eye-catching nature art—all by youth like yourself. This issue’s photo essay (pages 16-20) by photographer Paul Dix features many wilderness areas and high mountains that offer a place for nature to thrive. The majestic peaks are symbols of the grandeur of nature. It wouldn’t surprise me if after seeing these breath-taking photographs, your family decides to visit them sometime in the future.
Wishing you good health this year and beyond,