It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us.
“Virus epidemics are Mother Earth’s way of teaching us lessons that have lasting impacts,” an Andean Shaman told me. “When we contract a disease – or worry over it – we learn about ourselves and the world around us.”
I’ve thought about the historical implication of those words during this time of the coronavirus. A couple of perspectives:
So, what are the lessons to be learned from the most recent epidemic – coronavirus? Global and local economies are in turmoil. Health care systems are stretched beyond the breaking point. The Chinese government is under open attack from many of its youngest citizens. (4) At the same time, satellite images show that pollution from China has been dramatically reduced due to the impacts of the virus. (5) The very nature of our belief that we humans and our technical capabilities can “dominate nature” is challenged by the idea that perhaps we are more fragile than we realize, even expendable. As another Andean shaman put it, “we are like so many fleas to Mother Earth. If we become too much of a nuisance, she’ll just shake us off.” (6)
In Touching the Jaguar, I write about the failures of the current economic system – the Death Economy. This virus, like the hurricanes, fires, tornadoes and other “once in a hundred years events” is one more indication that we must transform the Death Economy into a Life Economy. Making the transition requires that we move from a goal of maximizing short-term profits for the few, regardless of the social and environment costs, to a goal of maximizing long-term benefits for all – people and nature.
The coronavirus demonstrates that a health care system based on the Wall Street dictated Death Economy goal of profit-maximization must be changed to insure our very survival as a species. People fearing that getting tested or losing work days will bankrupt them and companies focusing on amassing and protecting their intellectual property rights are exactly the opposite of what is required to prevent global health catastrophes. The message here is that we need a public health system that rewards laboratories, universities, companies and other systems that quickly work together to find and implement solutions and that provides unrestricted care to those who need it.
Perhaps the most important message the coronavirus offers is that the natural world is conspiring to save us from ourselves, to slow our materialistic greed and reign in our aggressive, self-centered, short-term, and xenophobic tendencies.
The Andean shaman continued, “the volcanoes are losing their ice caps. Mother Earth is twitching, warning us. She hasn’t shaken us off yet but she’s letting us know that we must listen to her message. We must take actions to end our destructive ways.”
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