This Great Pause: COVID-19’s Gift to the Earth?
Earth Day 2020
This morning, a wave of sadness came over me, tender grief for all the endangered, fragile creatures of the Earth, we humans among them; for all our loss and fear, sorrow and suffering, shock and anger from this world-wide pandemic.
The terrible COVID-19 crisis is wreaking havoc on so many lives and families, and imposing a Great Pause on our way of living and doing business. It has turned our lives upside down, and caused great suffering, from illness and lost lives to lost jobs and closed businesses.
However, it is obscuring the even vaster crisis we are facing: the looming climate catastrophe. The ultimate source of this deadly virus is the way we have been exploiting the Web of Life.
Having followed a path of separation, disconnection, and exploitation, our fossil-fueled industrial economic system of commerce, corporations, and consumerism has created much, destroyed more, and endangered all.
Forgetting that we are an integral part of an intricate Web of Life, we slash and burn, dig and take, raze and rape. Our population keeps expanding, pushing people ever further into the wild lands, with some eating wild animals, unwittingly unleashing new viruses on us.
We have gone too far on that path. We have become inflated with our illusion of power over all, our self-importance, our fantasy of endless progress. We keep taking more and more as if the Earth is an infinite storehouse just for us; and throwing out more and more as if Mother Earth and Her oceans are infinite garbage dumps.
Now the foundations are crumbling: the Web of Life cannot hold us for long. We only have ten years to reverse course, begin to reduce global warming, clean up our air and oceans, reforest our lands.
A Chance to Choose a New Path
This Great Pause given to us by a tiny virus is proving to be a gift to the Earth, with clearing skies, a quieter world, and more space for animals to roam. I can almost hear Mother Earth breathing a sigh of relief!
For us, it can be a time to learn to listen, to see again the Whole we belong to, to reevaluate, to choose a new path before it is too late for us all, and the Web fails.
It gives us the time to ask ourselves:
> What do I truly value?
> What kind of world do I want to live in?
> How am I willing to change the way I live?
For 500 years, we have been trampling the indigenous people of the Earth, the ones who knew how to listen, who knew our interconnectedness with All Life, who knew to live humbly in balance with the Web of Life. It is time to listen to them.
This Great Pause gives us time:
> to imagine a new path of humility, cooperation, compassion, mutual aid, and respect for the Web of Life and each other;
> to move toward reweaving the Web and finding our place in it with reverence and gratitude;
> to learn to cherish each other, all life, and this precious, endangered Earth, our only home.
Can we do this? Certainly this pandemic has shown how fast we can make major changes in our way of life. And this gives me hope that we can make the necessary changes to save ourselves and our beautiful planet.
My favorite writer, Ursula LeGuin says:
“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable.
So did the divine right of kings.”
And we know what happened to that.
All Art (c) by Rahima Warren