COVID-19 is taking a toll on all of us, especially those least able to retreat into their homes until the worst is over.
But, beyond the health and humanitarian measures urgently needed for those affected, it also offers a chance to right historical wrongs – the abuse of our earthly home and of marginalised societies, the very people who will suffer most from this pandemic. This viral outbreak is a sign that by going too far in exploiting the rest of nature, the dominant globalising culture has undone the planet’s capacity to sustain life and livelihoods. The unleashing of micro-organisms from their animal hosts means that they must latch on to other bodies for their own survival. Humans are a part of nature – and everything is connected to everything else.
The Nature is Speaking:
…”.I would like to tell you a few things about this virus and the lessons it should teach us, all the things we should be learning. I would like to add my voice to the crowd and be heard above it.
I would like to say: fish have returned to the Venetian canals now that humans have stopped polluting them.
I would like to say: the clouds of air pollution over Italy and China have dissipated since people were prevented from causing them with their cars, planes, factories.
I would like to say: up to 80,000 premature deaths which would have been caused this way have probably been prevented in China by the shutdown of the economy.
I would like to say: carbon monoxide levels in the air above New York have collapsed by 50 percent in a single week.
I would like to say: Nature recovers swiftly when we stop our plundering of Her bounty.
I would like to say: lift your gaze, humans.
I would like to say: we can learn from this, we can change.
I am squatting in the sun on this day of the spring equinox, it is a cold sun, I am down by the pond with my children, we are watching the tadpoles squirm free of their jelly under the leafing poplars. The world is turning.”
Paul Kingsnorth is a writer living in rural Ireland.
The current pandemic is just one aspect of the human-made planetary crisis known as the Anthropocene; runaway climate change and biodiversity loss are others – and all are connected. COVID-19 confronts us with a civilizational crisis so immediate and so severe, that the only real strategy will be one that can reach into and heal the web of life.
This crisis strips away all delusional confidence in modern world notions of history, progress, humanity, knowledge, time, secularism, and our tendency to take life itself for granted. It should also caution us against responses that strip away democratic and human rights, as is happening in the name of controlling the virus in many countries, for such responses only further reduce the ability of citizens to deal with such crises.
The corona crisis signifies a civilization that is dying, but also, it shows a pluriverse of ‘other worlds’ rising up. Every crisis is an opportunity. The key question is how to remake our economy and polity in a way that respects ecological limits and works for all humanity. The answer must go beyond superficial managerial and technological fixes to deep systemic transformations that can shake up structural injustices, unsustainability, and de-futuring. We need a dramatic shift towards genuine democracy;one that places confidence in the time-tested genius of local communities and collectives.
We challenge the old eurocentric mode of existence based on separation of humans from other natural entities – us versus them, mind versus body, secular versus spiritual. By denying the essential interdependence of everything on Earth, this dualist way of thinking and being simply served to entrench the domination of masculine power over life-affirming feminine care. It paved the way for the most objectifying and harmful economy humanity has ever seen, today enshrined in a heavily militarised global neoliberal capitalist (dis)order.
The pandemic is bringing home new lessons. Economic globalization has not brought universal prosperity but ecological devastation, social disruption and inequality.
The spiritual potential of quarantine
Being alone in quarantine, devoid of friends, family, co-workers and community, a person is truly lonely. Talking on the phone, messaging and even video chatting is no substitute for being in the physical presence of others. There is no replacement for the hug, kiss or even the handshake. Just having others around gives a person a sense of security and comfort. Quarantine forces a painful loneliness.
Yet the loneliness of companionship can also create an opportunity. The loneliness of others creates the solitude of the person with God. All alone, a person is able to commune with God as never before. God is eternally listening to our voices, and God awaits our prayers.
The silence of prayer/meditation provides a person the opportunity to connect to God on the deepest of levels. Without the pressures of work, a schedule or family chores, a person can turn to God, pour their heart out and deepen their relationship with the Creator. The gaping hole of spirituality left by the absence of ritual can be filled with a more unique connection to God.
Quarantine is a challenge previously unthought of by our Sages. It is lonely and depressing. Those feelings are natural and valid. All of us in quarantine are feeling them. But taken in the right way, it can provide time and opportunity to connect with God, rethink values and recommit to the priorities that are important to us.
- The past is the mirror of the future
Looking the horizontal way and learning from the past, as Breughel and Bosch did but also Erasmus and Goethe as many others, learning from the “Black Death” and taking also a vertical distance to understand better the message from Eternity, wil the website Maypole of Wisdom deliver a message for our times at the intersection or cross point of the present.
Looking to the Spiritual vertical way, as the Maypole do, gives us an opportunity of discerning an understanding between Non-Virtues and Virtues, needed in our times.
We need to be sincere with our selves , to be “upright” strictly honourable and honest, as the symbol of the Maypole is. Together we can initiate and erect a maypole as various European folk festivals do, in respect of the safely coming of Spring. But as many Folklores in Europe did, to keep it more permantly, we can plant a Lime Tree in the center of the village of on squares in the city, to keep the remenbering of “uprightness”,of sincerity in our mind, in our heart and in our allday lives. In this way,as in many folklores of Europe, they recognize their dependance to Nature and their submission to something Higher than themselves. And happy they danced under the Lime Tree on important opportunities. Man has always be in need of a symbol, but certainly a symbol for communality and fraternity.
As the Spring Rejuvenation ritual of the Carnaval of Binche in Belgium, the Gilles of Binche becomes for one day the hero and symbol of Fraternity.
The Lime Tree of Wisdom can become again a beautiful symbol of Fraternity, and also draw strength together to face the future and a place of remembering, sharing and of coming together. Than Maybe, this message from the Past can help us to be able to rediscover the meaning of the Eternal Spring. Or as Hildegard of Bingen call it The Greenness ( Viriditas) of our soul.