December 2019, we all heard the news. A new virus. Deadly but not too deadly. Spreading but not within “our” country. March 2020, the world has shut down. It’s grim, like that of a Stephen King novel (I’m sure he’s seen a huge uptick in sales of “The Stand”). Yet as I write this, I hear the cheerful tune of “Baby Shark” blasting in my basement. My little boy is no doubt dancing his ass off to the catchy tune. The sun still shines outside. The sky is a beautiful blue. And I’ve seen a significant increase in neighbors walking about, spending time with their families.
COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that has wrecked the flow of our world’s societal standards, is a scary thing. I know of two people close to my parents that have died. One of my best friends has the virus. And there is a noticeable agitation within people encountered at stores and on the road. Outside of my home, things are gloomy. At home, things seem almost perfect. What’s the message here? Why are the waters of Venice clearer than they’ve been in a hundred years? Why has the smog nearly vanished over the skies of Beijing?
This pandemic is a great lesson for us all, a great “awakener” if you will. We’ve all forgotten something. The power of money and a world economy only have meaning in a world where people are chasing it, and the halt to our way of life has let us know that in that chase we forgot about what was real. We’ve neglected our homes, polluted the skies, and muddied the waters in an effort to make a few dollars but forgot that those dollars are only given value by… us. We have grown so dependent on fitting within the system that we forget we were the ones who created the system.
It seems ever more clear as I look on this beautiful day, that our way of living needs serious change. We fear a shortage of food, yet there is an abundance of freshwater, animals, and vegetables for all of us. We fear losing our homes, yet all humans could fit (not live) in New York City. The world has grown out of balance. We’ve grown so dependent on social structures that we forgot about our natural structure–and sorry economists, but nature comes first. What good is a billion dollars in a world where no one can buy anything?
Our hubris as a race is seen very clearly in the mistreatment of animals. And, sorry Americans, but I’m not just talking about the Chinese caging up bats and pangolins to sell in the now-famous “wet markets” of Wuhan. The outbreaks of E. coli in the US could be largely avoided if we put cows in their natural environment and fed them grass instead of corn. The logic behind this is, of course, to save money and increase the production of meat–an odd move when you consider that 133 billion pounds of the 430 billion (yes, that’s a B for billion) goes wasted. Yetttttt, in the US alone, 1 out of 8 people will go to bed hungry tonight?
On an individual level, you will not command change on a global scale. It won’t happen… unless you’re president… but that’s a blog for a different day. Collectively, increased awareness does, however, come from changed perceptions on individual scales. And that’s where we can make change. More people need to come out of this pandemic understanding that we are most certainly sharing this planet. This notion is no longer reserved for the “New Age” self-help gurus. It’s a fucking reality. We need to understand that money is a social construct that clearly needs revisions. We need to understand that respecting nature needs to come before profit margins–its neglect and mistreatment clearly leads to a downfall of global markets, anyways.
We need to understand that we have to work collectively, with all nations and all people, because the world will continue one day soon, and when airplanes are running, and food is being passed on, and we’ve forgotten about the importance of our family time at home once again, the next pandemic might not give us the chance to appreciate the views from our living room windows.
What does the world do when there’s no one left to take for granted?