These days it seems we have nothing but time. Before the pandemic, we filled our lives with concerts and theater, movies and visits to the library, gatherings at restaurants and in the homes of friends. We lived lives of privilege, yet we didn’t see it as such.
Now with corona, we have this opportunity to be human beings, rather than human doings. In our tradition, this is normally relegated to a period between sundown on Friday and sundown on Saturday. If we do it at all.
But now it seems almost superfluous. Why take a day to slow down, when the whole world has slowed down. What’s more, we are in a period of observed mourning — the month of Av — when we are asked to “diminish joy.” How can we intentionally diminish joy, when so many of the things that brought us joy have been taken from us?
As we watch imagery out of Portland, horrified by the national response to the protests, we are mourning the death of our democracy.
As we hear of detainees in ICE facilities and the incarcerated suffering from rampant cases of the virus, we mourn the responsibility and guilt we feel, knowing it is our government failing to protect black and brown lives.
As we see the numbers of COVID cases surge nationwide and our leader refuse even to wear a mask in public, we mourn that we are in crisis and there is no one to save us.
And yet, we are to heap more sadness upon our spirits, remembering the destruction of our Temple, the place where the presence of the Holy One dwelled among us. We are to keep in our consciousness the tragedy of the Holocaust and the exile of Jews from Spain.
And we are to do it alone, as gathering to mourn together is unsafe and our only alternative is to “gather” on zoom. It’s all too much.
And yet, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And maybe movies and concerts and theater are frivolous in this time of universal suffering. And maybe this is akin to wartime, when our focus needs to be on addressing the threat at hand. And what is that threat?
Let’s name them:
- the threat to our health
- the threat to our democracy
- the threat to indiginous, Black and Brown, queer, female, Jewish, Muslim, and differently-abled lives
- the threat to the homeless, the aged, the poor, and the vulnerable
- the threat to our Mother — this planet Earth
Maybe our focus should extend beyond the critique of who is or isn’t wearing a mask. And maybe the time we are not spending entertaining ourselves can instead be applied toward considering solutions that will bring about justice, change, healing, repair — true tikkun olam.
What about reparations? What about low-income housing — yes, even in your neighborhood? What about defunding the police? What about opening our borders to those whose lives of poverty are mostly the result of US government meddling and manipulation and the raping of their resources by their Northern neighbors?
These solutions may bring about some sense of justice and an attempt to right wrongs and even the scale. But are these long-term solutions to the problem? How many more must die as we wait for policies to be implemented?
An alternative to a top-down approach to social justice is the establishment of an ecovillage. It is a way to decentralize power, create independence, efficiency and sustainability, and empower communities. Global Ecovillage Network provides a framework for the approach of building an ecovillage.
Tierra Baturi could be a place to build a “palace in time” as referred to by Abraham Joshua Heschel in The Sabbath.
Our week is divided by the days of work, and the days of rest. But this land is a place where food is so bountiful, almost no work is required. My husband, Daniel Tuchmann, whose family has stewarded this land for the last 60 years, tells a joke about once being asked by a native of Mexico City: “Why are the people from Baja California Sur so lazy?” His response: “Because we can be.” The trees drip with mangoes, avocados, oranges, nuts, and pomegranates, the seas overflow with fish, and year-round sunshine and warmth nurture bounty and abundance all around.
With some collaboration, planting of trees, installation of infrastructure, we could get a taste of the world to come — a Sabbath that lasts all week — in Tierra Baturi, land of “Sweet Water.”
“In that time there will be no hunger or war, no jealousy or rivalry. For the good will be plentiful, and all delicacies available as dust. The entire occupation of the world will be only to know G‑d.” So do the prophets and sages of Israel describe the Age of Redemption.
This is not a dream; it is already a reality in hundreds of ecovillages worldwide.
Will you join me? Can you support this effort? I understand if this solution may not be right for you, for your family, for this moment in your life. But if you think it could offer hope by being a “proof of concept,” please consider donating.
We are in need of the following items:
- A palapa roof shelter to protect us from the sun and heat ($2,000)
- Drone photos and video to show to potential investors and community members ($500 usd)
- Topographical Survey required for the Community Design: ($1,800)
- Water and soil testing: ($300 usd)
- Establishment of a legal entity like a co-op or a non-profit: ($1,000 usd)
If you would like to make a donation, please send via Paypal (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Venmo (@mimihope), knowing that you will always have a home in Tierra Baturi — nuestra casa es su casa.