Pandemic Postponement

CIIS MFA graduate and would-be Arctic Explorer Andrea Lynn Weighs Worldwide Warming, Pandemic, and Protest

Photo credit: Unsplash

My trip to the Arctic is postponed, of course.

I found out on Earth Day. I read the email announcement to the stream of the Earth Day Live virtual concert that featured musicians from around the globe led by Grammy-award winning musician and Earth Day Network ambassador Ricky Kej.

The complex, soulful tone color of the Hindustani classical music, as it came to my unfamiliar ears, felt fitting.

From that sour place in the gut that thumps hollow air into your throat when you are angry, disappointed, upset or afraid came one word: “Damn.”

I never curse. That’s a lie. I never swear out loud beyond the ears of those closest to me (I had a provincial upbringing).

I am disappointed by the postponement but compared to what others are living through because of the virus — many not even surviving it! — I feel guilty for feeling disappointed and ashamed for being selfish.

And now our collective is fighting something much more insidious than the coronavirus and far better at pointing out the inequities that rage in America.

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson captured the feeling perfectly from the vantage point of someone desperately concerned about the climate crisis but consumed with the broader injustices that make climate justice an impossibility in America right now.

“As a marine biologist and policy nerd, building community around climate solutions is my life’s work. But I’m also a black person in the United States of America. I work on one existential crisis, but these days I can’t concentrate because of another.”

Johnson is a marine biologist, policy advisor, and Brooklyn native. The above excerpt is from her opinion piece, “Racism Derails Our Attempts to Fight Climate Change”, published in The Washington Post on June 3, 2020.

In my view, the Sierra Club comprehensively articulates what is so very wrong as it explores the linkages between environmental quality and social justice consistently in its work.

What if I were on a ship in the middle of the Arctic Ocean right now as America tries to sort its understanding of democracy and justice in the twenty-first century?

San Francisco Visual Artist Mark Harris tackles issues of racism and police brutality in his striking piece, “Original Gangsters” (photo credit: The Nasiona)

What if I were not here to be stunned and angered by the image of America’s president hoisting a Bible into the air in a photo op in front of St. John’s Episcopal church in Washington on June 1 as peaceful protesters
were violently dispersed so the president could walk to the church, across Lafayette Square for the photo opportunity?

The gnawing tension in my gut about the climate crisis will go on. Even when the whole of humanity emerges from its seclusion, the climate crisis will still be here. Humankind will quickly reestablish itself as the species of pollution, ruin, and greed.

The breath the Earth has taken during the pandemic won’t sustain it through the paces humanity will continue to put it through, not unless humans quickly learns what is possible: we can be human differently.

My new sail date is set for April 2021.

Andrea Lynn graduated from CIIS with an MFA in Writing and Consciousness in 2018. Visit her website to learn more, or read Part One of this post series here.

To see more work form MFA@CIIS candidates and alumni, follow MFA@CIIS on instagram and continue reading this blog!

Blog of the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Writing program at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, CA, U.S.A.