The French are famous for their August holiday, but in fact every developed nation except for the United States offers full-time employees over three weeks for not working. The global average number of legally mandated “statutory” days off work is 18.2. A long-term employee in the U.S. is legally entitled to zero days of paid leave.
One may well ask if quality of life actually counts in the U.S., since there is so much left to be desired. The European Union has double the population, but half the number of school shootings. If, as is generally thought, mental health and social isolation play a role in murderous attacks, one might ask if it’s possible that people experience less incidences of homicidal rage when they are entitled to at least five days of paid time off per year.
One might also suspect that a universal vacation – a month, each year, set aside as an “August of the Living Planet” (or ALP for non-English-speakers) – would make it possible to get a handle on the climate crisis.
Week One: Rest and repair
Let’s think about that. An ALP would start with the agreement between each country to join the others for four weeks without the global race to the bottom in pursuit of profit, to include: one week to rest, one to socialize, another for banishing generalized ignorance of other cultures/ecosystems and finding a viable way forward, and a final week to give thanks. The ALP might look something like this:
We will stagger this month globally so that only a portion of the global population is on the ALP at a given time. For the first week, employer and state offer seven days’ paid leave with nothing on the agenda. Medical professionals and law enforcement will be organized into teams to ensure coverage, with their rest week set to follow the ALP. Week One provides time to rest bodies and fix homes, cars, and clothes as needed. Abandoned living spaces will be repaired and cleaned, too. In countries where there is warfare, all parties will observe ceasefires. Countries which are not at war will host fund drives to send food and aid to those in conflict.
Week Two: Visit or Volunteer
Each locality’s second ALP week is time for family, friends, and community. People will host pot-luck and/or glamorous dinners, as their social preferences dictate. Homeless people housed during week one will have homes in which to host their activities. Those without family or friends will volunteer to visit those stuck in hospitals, nursing homes, etc. All will extend the repairs begun in the first week to public spaces like parks and cemeteries. War-torn countries will receive support delegations of volunteer aid-workers bringing food, water, medical and other supplies.
Week Three: Plan and Prepare
After restoring our bodies and minds and reaching out to one another, it’s the hour to confront the climate crisis. Think Tanks will open their doors, offering solutions and hosting listening sessions. Global leaders will establish channels of communication and divide into working groups. Warring leaders will sign peace treaties.
Week Four: Party!
Let there nevermore be a nation without a vacation! Each locality will determine how best to celebrate the conclusion of the ALP. It will be time to highlight regional food production and thank and congratulate leaders. Those who wish to emigrate or apply for refugee status will connect with host families. The planet can reset, and all may venture back to work knowing that our planet’s ecosystem will receive the support it needs.
What do you think? Does it sound possible to you? Why or why not? Thanks, as always, for reading!