We’ve been talking about this here in El Compartimento a lot lately. And then Wendy Flores mentioned it yesterday in a comment on a post. Wondering the whether this pandemic is a message to us from the Universe. Have we been such bad stewards of all the abundance we’ve been given that this is a big shot across the bow? There are instances that tell us that might not be far from the mark.
In China, during the height of the pandemic, they had to shutter factories and chemical plants. Oil refineries and places were our iPhones, cheap fast-fashion and nearly everything we buy on Amazon.com is made. And suddenly, many cities in China had their first sunny days in years. If there hadn’t been a pandemic they might not have needed the masks many people wear on a daily basis. But if there hadn’t been a pandemic, all these places would have been pumping out deadly pollution. Clever earth bought herself a little breathing room. But it will not last.
And Venice – without all those pesky tourists, has shown photos of their canals. They’re running clear for the first time in memory because there are no tour boats, cruise ships and gondolas plying their waters.
Here in Valencia, the air is clearer. Sure, they secretly burned the the large Falla in the Ayuntamiento early yesterday morning, but there are few cars on the road just for those people who are essential to get to their jobs – Drs. and the like. And for those who need to travel by car they can’t have more than one person so as not to spread the virus to others in a confined space. The fine is 300-1000 euros now. Only essential workers will be allowed in cars.
But when we flip this thing on it’s head and take a hard look at ourselves, we are the pandemic that has been relentlessly attacking the planet for more than a century. – since the dawn of the industrial revolution. We are the virus that she and all her inhabitants have suffered, and died from as we marched forward with unabated greed.
I’ve heard people quote the bible to justify their actions ‘ Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
But if we are made in God’s image – or the deity of your choice – we aren’t very god-like. Dominion over things makes you responsible for them. You must care for them and ensure they thrive and survive. But we have done none of those things. We have cared only for ourselves and our immediate needs; never looking at the long term and never looking at ourselves and asking ‘Why’
I’ve watched countless hours of news, miles of Twitter feeds, and exchanged WhatsApp messages with friends. Everyone asks the same thing ‘How could this happen?’ And I think ‘How could this not?’ Look what we have done. I’m not a religious person but the bible doesn’t just give us dominion over all things on earth, it also says ‘As you sow, so shall you reap.’ We are reaping the seeds we have sown. Not in the way a televangilist will tell us, or that horrible abomination FOX News, but in our inability to see where it would all lead.
Governments are putting together relief packages and bailout packages. Economic stimulus and just plain checks. Money, Money, Money. And we have billionaires, who know money, who are the monkeys running this three ringed circus. But all of it is noise. Because its short term thinking. We can’t keep doing what we’ve always done and expect a different result. The world has fundamentally changed overnight. And you want to know why? You can’t buy off a virus. #coronadoesntcare And you can’t bribe the Earth. Mother Nature has more integrity in a drop of the tears she’s been shedding for us, all these years, than dirty politicians, oil companies and those deforesting the amazon basin combined. And she will win. She always plays the long game.
Pro Tip: Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. For more information on what we might all be fighting 6 months from now read this very thorough and very long article in the New Yorker – it’s worth all your time – Here
I had a friend back home. She said ‘But this isn’t climate change. This is a virus.’ And I realized that most people see it that way. The same people who say that mental health is different from medical health so your insurance doesn’t have to cover it – even though your brain is the thing controlling your body. A virus is organic. It comes from a living thing on this planet. And guess what? That’s nature. And surprise! We’ve been screwing with nature for too long and she’s real tired of it. What better way to get rid of what’s killing you than to find something that will kill it. As humans, we should understand that – we practically live in a state of war.
But the scariest thing we see is the utter incompetence in dealing with this crisis comes from those we’ve elected to lead us through it. We must ask ourselves ‘Are they the fools are or we?’ Because we’ve put our livelihoods, our very survival in the hands of the unqualified, the celebrated, the cults of personality; instead of those with decades of study and expertise. Look how the US reacted. The UK. Total mayhem, misdirection and outright lies. And people are dying as a result. You can read the Imperial College report here – that forced both Boris Johnson away from his ‘herd immunity’ pipe dream, and Donald Trump to hold exactly one serious press conference where he looked like he might be able to spell ‘Corona.’
Listen to the politicians on tv these days. They talk about ‘fighting the virus’ and ‘winning against it’ and ‘declaring defeat’. War talk, for sure, and I get it at this point. But maybe what we need to do is declare a truce with the environment. With our planet, and start treating it like it matters. Maybe we should do that, and pray it’s not too late.