The coronavirus has opened a new opportunity for all or us. Although it is devastating, and many of us are worrying about getting it, and staying sheltered wherever we are, there are aspects to it that can brighten the future. We have another threat –climate change-that goes hand and hand with pandemics. But we can fight them both.

Those of us who are sheltering in place and are starting to go a bit crazy are also beginning to listen to our inner selves. We are learning that nothing is really in our control and that being compulsive about things we think we need to live are not truly satisfying. By listening to our inner selves and looking at our surrounding environment, we are noticing more of what we ignored before.

We on Long Island are so lucky to live in houses rather than apartments or nursing homes where many people are getting this virus. We are fortunate there are so many hospitals that serve us well. In other parts of the United Sates, our kind of hospital care is lacking. Hospitals are going out of business because they don’t receive the monetary support they need to stay open.

Our health care system need mending, but it should not be at the expense of its population. The tab should be paid by the wealthy. They must pay higher taxes and there should not be giveaways to fossil fuel corporations when small farmers and businesses need help. It is Big AG and Big Oil and Gas that are fueling disasters on our health and climate.

We are living differently, more simply because of the coronavirus. We take walks in our neighborhoods, watch gardens and trees grow, listen to louder bird chirps, see the Supermoon in a less polluted sky. There are bluer skies, but old habits keeping us from cleaner streets: protective masks and gloves littering the ground. Using single-use plastics, rather than buying in bulk. The law to use reusable shopping bags in suspension. How many of us have purchased reusable ones? How many people will keep trashing the planet contributing to its growing piles of garbage.

The question is: what kind of future are we leaving our children and grandchildren? If we continue to leave them nothing but a legacy of pollution and garbage, a value system based on consumerism and individual rights, the notion of “We are all in this together,” that we are a world community and do not weigh the pros and cons of our choices and actions, what will happen? Do we want a future where more pandemics are as inevitable as climate change, or one where altering our lifestyle means a better, healthier earth for all of us to live on?

Elaine Peters for the Green Sanctuary Committee