What’s Next? …planning for an uncertain future

Last month I struggled like crazy to find a hundred things I’m grateful for during this insane time, and sent them to you.

But that only goes so far.  And sometimes, things you’re grateful for slip away, like squirrels in a tree while you’re sleeping. 

In just this last month, my sniffing buddy Cloud, my and Handsome’s dear friend Sherry, and countless other friends or family of friends have wandered off to the field over the horizon.  And as our treasures disappear, focusing on just what we’re grateful for doesn’t feel like enough.  What would happen if they all went away?

So I’m writing a sequel to last month’s Pawprint.  This mad, awful, time will end.  I don’t know when, and neither, apparently, does anyone else (Certainly not the idiots who told us it would be gone by April or May.  I mean, I’m a dog, and I have enough brains to have not said something that unscientific!).

But when it does end, the world will be different.  Some things will be like before, some will have become more like now, and some will be able to change in ways they never have, because of all this turbulence.

And I’m making wishes.  For what that world around the corner is like. 

I hope you like them, but what I’d love even more is if you could come up with some of your own and send them to me.  Maybe we can create a whole new list!

Anyway, here goes:

  1. Working from Home.  One benefit of this awful lockdown, at least where I live, has been the incredible decrease in traffic.  So many people who were working in offices and shops are now working from home (and so many others aren’t working at all, which is of course horrifying).  Of course, when things open up, this will change: lots of people will go back to their work places, and hopefully millions and millions of unemployed will find work again.  But wouldn’t it be great if a number of the companies, that have insisted their workers stay home during this, now allow them to keep working at a distance?  Parents can be closer to their children, tons of people will have more time since they skip their commutes, and that reduction in traffic could continue – including reducing pollution, crashes, and lots of anger! 
  2. Theaters Somehow Return.  I mean movies, I mean plays, I mean concerts, I mean children’s shows, I mean sports events, I mean monster car rallies, I mean ice skating, I mean operas, I mean ballets, I even mean Dog Shows!   Throughout recorded history, humans (sometimes with us pooches) have congregated together to be entertained, taught, amused, moved, excited, frightened, and changed.  And while television and the internet are amazing, there’s nothing like the effect of a group experiencing the same thing at the same time.  The laughter, the gasps, the applause.  I want everyone safe, but can it PLEASE come back?!
  3. The End of Factory Farming.  There will always be improvements in efficiency in every business, of course.  But over the past century, too many farms have moved from soulful healthy environments to cruel toxic monstrosities, where animals are so imprisoned and pushed together that their lives are pure misery and new diseases are created and spread.  A while back, Mad Cow Disease got some countries to change their laws, but, if the word is correct, the accidental creation of Coronavirus-19 on such a farm has shown the entire world that things need to change, right now!  How great it would be if an international committee created laws for the entire planet illegalizing these moronic and (yes I’ll use the word) inhuman animal factories. 
  4. Greater Understanding Between People.  There are those who’ve tried to say this virus came from one race, or is one country’s fault.  No. However it began, it has spread due to globalization and willful ignorance.  But it’s been awfully interesting how this problem – which has attacked all people all over the world – has coincided with a greater attention to how some people have gotten treated way worse than others, for a very long time.  Could this be one of those great moments when the world awakens to a better understanding of the simple fact that all humans are siblings?  I know things won’t be perfect, but might they get just a bit better?  That would be a beautiful morning.
  5. I Want Touch Back!  As a dog, I’m considered pettable by the same people who would pet me before this.  But all the close contact I used to see between people – hugs and kisses of course, but also handshakes and high-fives and friendly punches and even whispering – they’re all gone.  And it’s changed you guys; it’s changed the way you even treat us.  Connnection used to be something people craved and drew to; now it’s feared.  And I hate that.  So yes, I want everyone to stay as safe as they need to.  But once you can, please… MAKE CONTACT AGAIN!
  6. Population Control.  A half-century ago, the whole world got frightened about how quickly the human population was growing.  But while it’s only grown more and more quickly, we almost never hear those worries anymore.  We should!  People are wonderful, but just as there shouldn’t be too many dogs in a kennel, it’s unhealthy to have such a growth of humans.  Imagine what it would be like if the growth stopped – if just this number of people remained on the planet.  Suddenly, instead of governments and charities having to help growing numbers of humans, they’d be able to help the current numbers more.  Poverty could be eased, health care could be provided more easily, and all sorts of growing international tensions could get reduced.  Now I hear people argue that the world’s economic systems rely on regular population growth.  But economic systems are created by humans, to help humans.  So couldn’t you guys create a new economic system that doesn’t rely on it?  Couldn’t it be way better than the way things are now?
  7. New Manners.  A few years ago, I wrote a Pawprint where I tried to come up with new rules for Politeness.  And I still like all those.  But I’m talking here about actual “Manners,” how you physically act around others.  While we dogs love to get right up in everyone’s faces and butts, this virus will probably result in people giving each other a bit more space, especially total strangers.  And that will be good on a number of counts.  Sure it’ll reduce the spread of other viruses and germs, but also it’ll help vulnerable people feel safer in public, and create less chance of accidents – like doggies getting stepped on!  So I’m all for it.  But please, it doesn’t mean you can’t pet or hug your favorite pooch just as you always have!
  8. More and Better Plant-Based Foods.  Let’s get this straight – I’m a dog, and I love hunting and catching other animals.  Always will, nothing I’d change about it.  But I also love when Handsome feeds me some of what he’s eating.  And you know what I’ve found?  If he’s eating one of those really great new pretend-burgers that are all made of plants, I can’t tell the difference between it and real meat.  Now remember what I said before about factory farming?  Imagine if people bought, ate, and invented way more of these “fake animal” foods, and way less from actual animals.  Wouldn’t that be great? Again, I love chasing those squirrels and mice, but it’s no fun for me that some poor bird or beast was cramped in a cage all its life for my dinner.  And everyone knows having fewer farm animals would be better for the world in countless ways.  I’m not pushing that everyone has to become vegans – I’m certainly not one myself – but could we all be healthier and happier with a better diet?  Oh yeah!
  9. Keep Reading!  One great thing I’ve seen during this lockdown is people reading way more than before.  Maybe you’re catching up on some classic you’ve never gotten to, or a new book about current events to help your understanding of the world, or maybe you’ve dug up some old bones from the back yard… oops, some old favorites from your childhood that you always wanted to read again.  Whatever it might be, I sure hope this continues when things get better.  Reading exercises parts of the mind that even the most brilliant movies or tv shows never touch.  Sure, have fun rewatching all the episodes of Game of Bones or Dogton Abbey (oops, did I make a typo or two there?  heh heh), but don’t let the love of quietly losing yourself in a great novel or treatise go away.  There’s nothing like it.
  10. At Last, Environmental Sanity.  When I was a puppy, Handsome started training me very mildly.  He’d gently push my butt down and say “sit,” and give me a treat for doing it right.  But over time, he started to get tougher; he’d expect me to sit without him pushing me down, and even without a treat.  It was no longer acceptable for me to not know how to respond to that command.  Well that’s where the human race is today, when it comes to the environment.  For nearly a century, the planet has been letting you all know what was necessary – to put less pollution into the air and water, to not spread certain chemicals, and to work your way out of the overuse of potentially harmful substances.  And some humans have heard it, a few have yelled about it, and many have ignored the warnings.   But now there’s no more excuse.  This year of wildfires, hurricanes, floods, melting ice shelves, rising oceans, and pestilence, is like nothing anyone’s ever seen.  Take any culture’s great ancient writings, squeeze every disaster story in them, which covered centuries, into one year, and that’s 2020.  It Is Time To Wake Up.  I bow my floppy-eared head and pray that you all heed the warnings: start preserving nature, move on from fossil fuels, find solutions to waste and pollution, and for the love of all of us, PLEASE stop electing leaders who deny what’s going on.  So many people talk about protecting the planet, but that’s not the point.  The planet’s going to survive whatever humankind does.  But humankind might not.  And we pups are dependent on you.  So please, for us, learn from this year.  And change.  Things can survive, and can get so much better.  And we will love you for it.

So that’s my wish list.  Do you have others you’d add?  I’d love to hear them, and share them with the rest of the pack!

And then will come the really interesting part: Doing what we can to make these wishes come true.

In fact, maybe that’s my greatest wish – that humans will come together to do just that, to make the world better.  Just that energy would make the future greater than any past that’s ever been.

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