On adjusting but not abandoning your goals

These are trying times. And in these trying times we may need to adjust our goals, alter our approach, and exercise more caution and patience than we normally would. 

For example, Suzanna and I had to cancel our Eat for the Planet talk that was set for March 8th. It was certainly disappointing and required an adjustment of our goals. On the other hand it hasn’t stopped me from thinking about improvements I would like to make to the talk, because I know that we will reschedule the talk for a later date. Even Pope Francis has had to adjust too. On a recent Sunday, he prayed from the Apostolic Palace and live streamed his prayers, rather than from the balcony in St Peter’s Square, to reduce the crowd size.

The Coronavirus pandemic is challenging each of us. That challenge can be answered in a couple of different ways. I can adjust my approach, adding a healthy dose of patience, while maintaining my focus on my goals. Or I can just give up, put everything on hold indefinitely, and abandon my goals. 

The current health crisis has forced many of us to temporarily increase our use of single-use items. Starbucks and many coffee shops are refusing to fill customer’s reusable cups. Similarly, the use of disposable masks and gloves, and chemical disinfectants have increased significantly. But these are temporary (and understandable) setbacks in reducing our carbon footprints. This doesn’t mean that you should abandon all sustainability plans and actions. 

On the contrary, fears of the Coronavirus have forced many of us to adjust our routines, and maybe the silver lining here is that we can actually use this crisis to lower our carbon footprint. Since many of us are now forced to work from home, we won’t be commuting, so that means less of us needing transportation. In addition, the pandemic may force many of us to eat out less, travel less (goodbye, Italian vacation), delay making purchases, conserve more, and consume less. 

Once again, we are at a crossroads. We could always take the selfish, wasteful approach: eating, drinking, stockpiling, and consuming with reckless abandon since we have lost all hope. Or, we could go for the ecological conversion espoused by Pope Francis in Laudato Si and take the opportunity to pause, reflect, reduce our carbon footprints, and actually do a better job of taking care of the planet and our neighbors, albeit safely. It’s our choice.

Paul Litwin

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