Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
Today and into the future we must all confront the beast by staring straight into its giant mouth: COVID-19 is a disease that has gleefully painted most corners of the earth, taking our bodies for joy rides, infecting uncountable millions of humans around the globe with no obvious cure, vaccine, or adequate diagnostic testing capacity anywhere in sight. We are in the midst of an unprecedented reckoning today. With all our mighty arsenal of modern medicines, weapons, tools, science, technology, governments, laboratories, hospitals, universities, armies, brains, and treasure we are flying blind into a battle that as of May 2, 2020 has already brought the superpower United States and the rest of the world we are supposed to be leading, to our knees. The two world leaders who would in normal times have formed the vanguard in winning the fight, the US President and the UK Prime Minister, are incompetent managers temperamentally incapable of the difficult leadership needed to dig the world out of this hole before a great amount more pain and suffering both medically and economically are felt. It’s as if nature picked the EXACTLY PERFECT time to align the worst possible human beings to be in charge at the worst possible time- almost as if this were a precisely well-executed simulation.
I’m not going to debate the politics, the science, or the foreign policy of all of this any further. Please go elsewhere for your media fix on those, which can be readily found everywhere. I have my thoughts on such matters but I consider those too base for this particular piece. We are aiming for some higher level thinking today from both you and I, setting aside the endless day to day chatter and talking heads to deeply assess, on the spiritual level, where we find ourselves here and now, and where we want to go.
So please slow down, kick back, and listen for a moment. Whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs, or lack of those, I urge you to stop and really listen to the silent vibrations and alarm bells going off all around us, for the universe is very clearly trying to tell us something. You can hear the message if you really try.
So… did you hear that?
If you hear a simple, stark, DEFCON 2 level warning, if you can picture the system blinking red, then you are not alone, and we are in this together regardless of who you are, and where you are, how old you are, your gender, your religion, political affiliation, national origin, color, or any other superficial way in which humankind attempts to pigeonhole and tribalize ourselves. We are united against a common enemy whether you believe so or not. For the first time in our lifetimes, humans form an integrated, globalized world fighting a common enemy, and EVERY SINGLE human on the planet, including children, are soldiers in this war. For a child can right now receive and pass on the virus, with the potential to kill others, unwittingly, just as easily as adults can. In this, COVID-19 is far different from World War II or other wars where humans destroyed lots of property and killed or maimed many other humans. Young children were mostly left out of the fight with certain exceptions. Now schools worldwide have been shut down at an unprecedented rate, and kids are soldiers right next to us adults, their educations meanwhile badly disrupted in sacrifice to the greater cause.
God, the Gods, the Universe, Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Bhoomi Devi, the planet, the Force, or whatever we might want to call the force ringing the alarm bells, it doesn’t matter because our conceptions of all these things are human constructs and semantics anyway. Regardless, ring true the bells do.
Viruses are nearly perfectly designed and engineered little killing machines, sometimes created with the power specifically to cull herds of animals or plants thanks to their ability to jump from species to species, a phenomenon known as zoonotic transmission like corona. For we are part of a larger and more complex system than we understand, with many other living species besides humans sharing the space and time we live in, many of which are still undiscovered to man such as the novel coronavirus until a few months ago.
There’s plenty more where those came from, whether it was bats or something else. Viruses have been on the planet for billions of years, long before humans, and they are neither plant, nor animal, nor bacteria. It’s debatable whether these little guys are even a living thing. And yet look how they take down and shut down human bodies many billions of times their size, like the ultimate Davids to our Goliaths, and by extension caused societal lockdown on unprecedented scale with dire economic consequences. Yes, the coronavirus was a shot across the bow. It is a warning, like when the Mafia breaks your legs with the warning that next time it could be your life if you don’t pay the extortion fee.
If we really listen closely, we are being told that nature could just wipe all of us out and coronavirus was just the vehicle for the message: for we humans are acting as the real infection on this earth more so than any virus. Our plunder of the planet with blatant disregard for the rest of the system is approaching complete and total: from the clearing of tropical rainforests, to the decimation of entire lands for mining and fossil fuel extraction, to the dangerously growing levels of carbon we emit into the atmosphere, to the polluting of our water bodies and destruction of marine life, or the toxic tainting of our soils, the list goes on and any of us could recite the litany of horror wrought by man with a simple Google search. Every single one of us is part of the problem no matter how light we think our footprint is. Anyone who doesn’t believe that is in denial.
Which brings us to what COVID-19 has forced us to do. Most of our world’s airplanes are grounded as flights have been cut by 95%. Our cruise ships and naval carriers stand moored along coasts, inactive as their occupants recover from brutal COVID-19 outbreaks. Our meat packing plants have shut down at an alarming rate in response to their own infection outbreaks. Many of us are anxiously huddled inside with our families or roommates, our cars at a standstill in garages and parking lots. Millions around the world have suddenly lost their livelihoods and face unprecedented hardships in this new era.
There are the silver linings. Our air, skies, and water are cleaner than at any point in 3 decades or more, the period which saw the most rapid ramp-up of pollution. One could argue the world is beginning a process of healing itself using a culling behavior in its toolkit, like antibodies to the human infection. Maybe the virus is the antibody and we are the virus.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We are reconnecting with family and friends, in many cases after years, using technology to connect where in-person contact has become unfeasible. If we are supposed to be one global hive mind, or one global consciousness, this would be the time to exercise those muscles if they do exist, to move forward in a better way.
All of this brings us to the elephant in the room, the concept of Karma, meditated upon for thousands of years by those in ancient India and also elsewhere. Are humans now suffering as a consequence of our own actions? Might there be Karma associated with government administrations, political parties, the airline industry, wet markets, or the military industrial complex, the cruise line industry, the meat packing industry, oil cartels, or auto manufacturing? I don’t know. None of us can know. We don’t know how all of this works, or if there’s a methodology to it at all. What we do know is that the world has forced changes upon us, and we must now adapt if we are to survive. And if Karma is real, we can see it at work in front of our eyes.
Survive I’m sure we will. Many of us, me included, have lost kith or kin but most of us will make it through. We are in a long, dark tunnel, and there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. As we struggle through, it would certainly behoove us to use this opportunity to better ourselves as individuals and as a collective society. We should aim to be healthier individuals, and a healthier body of humanity in a more inter-connected way. Wars of man on man should seem more trivial and unnecessary than before, as for example we view the ceasefire in Yemen. Petty tribalism and differences should be set aside, as we have bigger fish to fry. What are we doing today to make our lives, and those lives around us beyond human, better?
As we think about how to reopen society and approach closer to the light at the end of the tunnel, which unfortunately will be some distance away for some time, let’s hope that the world’s governments and other institutions work collectively, rather than retreating to our own corners, to make sure all are taken care of, that we coordinate the response to make us all stronger. For the next warning shot, virus or otherwise, can crop up anywhere and affect everyone.
There are lessons to be learned from these alarm bells, not just fear and anxiety but how we harness those to improve ourselves and one another, if only we choose to stop what we are doing and listen to these rhythms of our planet for a change.
Finally: can we help heal the planet ourselves, or will the planet have to do it for us?