COVID-19 HAS CREATED A PIVOTAL TIME WHEN THE FUTURE MAY BE DECIDED:

I’ve heard that there are lines around the block at gun stores. I’m told people have gotten into fights in supermarkets. But what I’m seeing and feeling as I walk my dog and go to the small community gym (with gloves, handwipes and spray) is different. I’m seeing more smiles from folks, more “How are you’s” and “stay safe’s.”

I watch Rachel Maddow (religiously) and learn about the 10’s of thousands of military veterans, retired doctors and nurses and others who are volunteering to help in hospitals and clinics, building health facilities, sewing masks, and my heart melts.

And I am reminded of the 1940s, during WWII. Yes, I was a young child, but trust me, children remember these things—these feelings—of everyone pitching in. There were the Victory Gardens that millions planted at home, or on public land. At my home in the Santa Monica hills, we had a huge one. The purpose was to safeguard against food shortages and reduce pressure on the commercial farmers working hard to feed troops and civilians overseas. We rationed food and didn’t complain. It was for the ‘greater good.’ Many Hollywood celebrities sold war bonds. People felt united in their desire to pull together in the country’s interests.

Now is the time to recreate that sentiment and make it last beyond this pandemic. It won’t be easy. Since the 1980s under Reaganism and Thatcherism, individualism has been carefully fostered while the notion of a strong federal government has been vilified.

That was when the idea of the ‘public good’ began to play second fiddle to the corporate good. In California, Reagan said, “The government can’t solve your problems. The government is your problem” and he shuttered most of the state’s mental hospitals. That’s when the crisis of homelessness began. Margaret Thatcher said, “There is no such thing as society.” Their administrations did a good job making people believe that big government is bad, especially the very people who most need a robust federal government to protect their rights to a union, to collective bargaining, to health care, to healthy food, to a free press, to voting.

But as these and future administrations, Republican and Democratic alike (it’s called neo-liberalism), took money from corporations and geared their policies to favor corporations, especially the fossil fuel industry, the government naturally began working for them and less for its citizens and the notion of individualism took hold in our national psyche. Young people today don’t know it hasn’t always been quite this way. Sure, there have always been tensions between those who favored the elite and those who favored democracy but never this polarized.

My hope is that the COVID-19 pandemic will allow us to change this trajectory. In fact, we have to make certain it does. Just as the canals in Venice, Italy that are seeing fish and birds return must be maintained post- COVID along with the clean skies over American cities, the apparent return of civility evidenced by the outpouring of volunteerism, of caring for each other, must remain. This will require a major shift in our mindset, and this requires intentionality. We’ll need to work on it. Let’s expose individuality for what it is: a tool of the corporate elite.

Will this pandemic teach us how interdependent we are, not just with each other, but with the natural world? With climate change, shorter, warmer winters, earlier springs, deforestation and other clearing of wild areas for human use guarantees that disease-baring animals and insects come in contact with people who lack resistance. This is how all the recent pandemics—AIDS, SARS, MERS, Ebola and now COVID-19 originated. The melting of the Arctic ice sheet is releasing untold pathogens to which humans are not immune. Climate change guarantees that COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic we will see.

To be prepared we need to care for each other. Realize that this collective, existential crisis cannot be dealt with individually, or by a small, under-funded, under-staffed government that caters to the fossil fuel industry. We are seeing that the health of the most vulnerable people among us is a determining factor for the health of all of us.

Let this be a teachable moment.

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19 Comments
  1. Thank you for your blogs, Jane! They bring peace of mind and really help during this crisis we are all facing.
    Kara

  2. Out of everything you’ve witnessed, lived and survived through, how does Covid-19 weigh up? Do you think that this pandemic is being handled better than all of the other pandemics you’ve listed above?
    Do you feel we’ve learned from the past mistakes or that this is just another dose of history repeating?

    Just yesterday I was told this is the worst thing to happen in my lifetime. And after I had countered “yes, but since 911.” The person replied that I was too young to remember. So when you said “ Yes, I was a young child, but trust me, children remember these things…” I GET THAT. No one can tell you what you feel or what to feel.

    Thanks again.

  3. Dearest Jane,
    Please wear a mask! Also, just thinking about a gym full of human sweat and droplets makes me want to take you out of there!
    I love you, please be safe!
    ✨💕✨💕✨💕
    Eva

  4. Couldn’t agree more.

    BUT!!!!!

    I’m very worried to hear that you’re still going to a community gym. Gloves and spray are not enough. Follow the example of any country other than your own right now. Here in Canada (more specifically Newfoundland) we are being drilled over and over again to stay home. If you go outside, do not leave your land. Zero physical contact with anyone outside your household. Only leave your property when absolutely necessary…for essential food and prescriptions. And when possible, use online ordering for both groceries and pharmacy items.

    We need to hang onto this sense of community and humanity as tight as we can, now and later. To continue to stand as one and demand a better world. But the most important thing by far right now is to stop the virus spread. Stop the deaths.

    Please stay safe. You need to be here, healthy and safe in order to continue to fight the fight when this pandemic is over. We need your voice. It’s so much louder than most.

    “Stay” is the word we should all wake up thinking. Stay home, stay safe, stay in contact with friends and family through technology, stay strong in mind and body, stay positive for your own well-being and most importantly – stay here. We need you ♥️.

  5. Something like this brings out the best and worst in people, you are right, many people are very empathetic but there are very negative people who demonize the persons who contract the virus, the neighbors are doing horrible things against them, it is very sad.

  6. Dear Mrs Fonda, I am living in northern Germany and our gyms are all closed. Please stay home – our German scientists recommend “social (means physical) distancing”. Staying at home, avoiding contact with people outside our own household, 1.5 to 2 meters distance to others in public (very difficult in a supermarket) – home office (it works). Doing sports outside is allowed but only allone or together with one of your family members. People over 70 are at a high risk to die – and this is what we want to avoid! I know that it is very difficult, I realized during the last weeks that it was very difficult for the older ones – who survived World War II – to change their habits, to isolate. There will be a time after COVID-19 and I want them to survive and to be able to hug them.

  7. Indeed, Jane, if we really want to learn something from this planetary crisis we have to start caring more for each other. We have to learn or remember how it feels to help others FOR FREE. We have to feel less fear for us and be more bold in helping others. If no one is helping them, who will?
    So, starting March 23rd, I became a non-governmental organization volunteer in my hometown to help those in need. So, almost everyday, I leave my house with my mask on and wearing gloves, and I learn how to minimize my fear and to feel more peaceful. I learn how to also help me by helping others.
    By the way, have you seen this video?!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhNo_IOPOtU

    be safe,
    XXX

  8. We’re all panicking over Covid-19, which is more than understandable but I agree with you, this is such a learning opportunity! Not only for the governments, to be more aware and take action to help prevent these situations (and maybe improve the emergency plans- I think one of the reasons the virus spread so fast was, in part, because of the inefficiency or inexistency of those plans. We might prevent these situations but also be prepared for them. The world was taken by surprise, nobody knew what to do or didn’t take it as a priority and the clock didn’t stop ticking) but also for us, individually.
    Since the quarantine, the skies, the beaches, the streets got cleaner, the animals started to come back to the places they once owned. People are rediscovering the their nature- collective, and starting to give more value to the human interaction and life itself.
    We are facing the fragility and ephemerality of life and we can´t get through this pandemic alone so I really think this is a great opportunity to rethink our priorities, our actions and to join forces, act as a group for the greater good, the global health.
    Also,it’s the right time to take some conclusions: if we got through covid with lower emissions, less pollution, it is more than doable to keep them down, specially in a way less sensitive time… maybe we just have to redefine some behaviors and prioritize the improvement of nature’s health, she’ll give it right back to us.
    (I didn’t associate the melting of the glaciers with the release of pathogens but it makes total sense! It just emphasizes the fact that the change is in our hands, if we take care of the planet, we’re taking care of ourselves)

    Maybe avoid the gym, it is a high risk source of contamination 😥

    Be safe💕,

    Ana

  9. Hi Jane,
    What we are all experiencing now will surely change mentalities and things. It shows us that we have to do something else for the planet and for all of us, our children and our grandchildren.
    I think also
    I also think of all of you in the USA. It’s very hard to live too! … and all over the world. In France we are on the peak of the pandemic. we go out only for the necessities of the races or just take a little air. We are not allowed to go more than 1km from home
    Poor planet earth needs to breathe, this is very significant with Codiv-19 (respiratory problems)
    Take good care of yourself xxx

  10. Beautifully written, Jane. I am trying to process everything happening around me, learn from it all, and to be honest, I am just doing my best to make sure family makes it through this. I live in a hotspot, so I pray that the essential working family members and friends stay healthy from this horrific virus. After this is over, the world, including our country, will have to take a step back and realign what is important. Continue to educate us. I always take something valuable from your blogs. Be safe. Be you.

  11. Thank you for your blogs Jane, they always make me feel more positive about everything. I’m stuck in London in an abusive home and the UK is beginning to suffer pretty badly now, but reading this blog made me remember it will be over at some point and I am hoping we will then all know for sure that there is such a thing as society xx

  12. I have written a book called, “The Secret of Money.” It is unpublished so far. There is a lot there, but one of the conclusions I came to is that money does not provide security. The best security comes from living in a loving, caring community. That’s where we put our efforts.
    My doctor tells me that as an elderly person who has had lung infections before, I’m going to be at high risk if I catch this bug. I’m supposed to put my affairs in order. He said it had probably not arrived in our part of Nova Scotia yet, but that it was coming.
    I’m following the rules and self isolating, planting some garlic today, baking stuff, and working on building my guitar. (Stratocaster from a kit. It will be beautiful and sound great when I am finished). Stay healthy, people. I’ve survived black mold in my lungs and I may beat this also, when it comes. Thank -you, Jane, for your wise words, for this space to communicate, and for all you’ve done over the years. Blessings, everyone.

  13. Jane according to the experts the worst is coming for your country and mine, I keep praying every day for you, we have to be patient. Stay safe💕💕

  14. Wow you are in HolaTv right now about your tik tok OMG.

  15. Jane thank God both negatives although my husband is still ill the doctor believes that it is a flu and he now can start taking medicines the test also has a 20 percent margin of error we are still isolated but together, as Mission Impossible reads and erase here there are many crazy people doing very ugly things to those are positive, this is the problem of the world even in fatality some people aren’t empathetic.

  16. Lovely post Jane. I do believe that this is an incredible “teachable” moment for humanity. To re-evaluate what success and happiness means to us. To slow down from our busy, blurry lives and taking time to connect and reflect at a deeper consciousness. Almost practicing a new way of being, re-embracing our feminine qualities of empathy and care for one another.
    The planet is thriving with humans being indoors, and that should be shocking for us. We can’t afford to go back to our old ways of being, post-isolation. I don’t have the answers but it feels good to be apart of the conversation; so thank you for stimulating that!

  17. I enjoyed the interview with Dolores Huerta. I learned how to say her name. I have a magnet on my refrigerator with her picture and a quote, “Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.” Yes, indeed. Thank you. Dona

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