Why is now the time to step back and see the big picture including, but also beyond COVID-19?
Cascading Apocalypses Now Coming
Part 1: (This is Part 1 of a series from the directors of a sister organization, The Association for the Tree of Life. We are posting this series of editorials because we need to begin to use the feedback from what the COVID-19 pandemic is warning us about as well as begin to see beyond the COVID-19 pandemic for the wisdom that lies there as well.)
Situation: Covid-19 dominates everything and everyone, whether they realize it or not.US deaths almost 80,000, cases over 1.3 million, with the US opening against all public health warnings. The US wants to go back to normal, but that is too far gone and not returning. This virus could enable all of us to see through the delusions and contradictions that embody our collective and individual lives and notice the interconnected crises abounding. Perhaps we can see behind the illusions that still govern us. Apocalypse means peering behind the curtain for revelations — they are coming, and fast. Meanwhile, Trump has given up trying to corral the virus.
Peeling back the curtain, viewing the revelations – what do we see?
Post-Earth Day “Celebration”
Waving goodbye to an extremely quiet COVID Earth Day this year, it was stunning to compare the 50th Earth Day to the original Earth Day and its aftermath. The first Earth Day saw 10% of the US out in the streets and the Earth Day President, Richard Nixon founded the Environmental Protection Agency that year. Plus, all states and the federal government got involved in clean air with the passage of the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Clean Water Act in 1972. Near the end of 1973, Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act.
In the early Earth Day years, almost everyone felt part of cleaning up air and water, while being serious about poisons and pollution. Even extinction threats were acknowledged and addressed.
Since the 1970s, progress on these fronts and others — all of which can be called the “environmental movement” — skidded to a halt. At that point (the 1980s are a good demarcation), we accelerated backward into building the interconnected crises in which we all now live – crises confronting all living creatures who share the thin layer of life surrounding our Earth, labeled the biosphere. All of life lives within that thin sphere, the skin of an apple over our Earth apple.
That thin life sphere (TLS) is home, nest, and survival for all living beings. To call it the “environment” is to create a separation that has become quite lethal, particularly for the unfortunate creatures that share the TLS with us, with humanity. Consider mammals. They were a fearsome lot some few human generations ago. Now, compared to less than 200 years ago, we humans and our domesticates comprise 96% of all mammals, so we have killed off 24/25ths of them. Consider creatures with backbones, like us. Since the first Earth Day, we have killed off more than 60% of them, except for us, of course. Consider fishes. Soon we will have more plastic in our oceans than fishes.
None of these reviews of our TLS mention anything about how we are poisoning our home. None of these stories mention how we are polluting our nest. None of these stories explain how we are slow-cooking our TLS, making it into something else, something inhospitable, something menacing.
Now Comes the Warning Called Coronavirus
The coronavirus has not only stolen the slim but caring momentum, the slight dawning perceptions of humanity’s pushing the biosphere disastrously out of kilter, but also it has stolen the entire show for humanity. Disruption and shutdown of what was considered “normal”, still only a couple of months behind us, has eliminated any chance of normal’s return. The overweening excesses of our collective way of running what we call the economy has met its Procrustean end. Perhaps COVID has mortally wounded the “economy,” or perhaps it has only amputated pieces.
Along with the deaths and debilities brought by COVID, along with the shriveling economy, and along with shriveling prospects (not only economic), COVID has forever changed our sense of mastery, particularly technological. Once our sense of control, continuous economic consumerism, and unquestioned superiority is crushed (and it is already, even if we don’t yet perceive it), then Reality may again be emergent. Reality, as in valid, reliable facts and data is the Reality meant and explored here.
Apocalypse and Apocalypses
Apocalypse means “lifting the curtain” to see the “revelations” behind it. The covid-effect will allow us to peek behind the curtain of the illusions that we believed were the “economy”. Once the curtain is raised and Reality is perceived, then we can see what has been unleashed. Unleashed and roaming free, but not as yet perceived clearly by most all of us.
The terminal game we have been playing with ourselves and our Reality Mother, our real mother, will start to be clarified. Of course, we humans have a mammal mother, but our real mother is Mother Earth. Every molecule and particle of who we are and who we have been from birth comes exactly and directly from Mother Earth. We are not special; we are not separate; we are not dominant; we are Her. Not figuratively, but literally, actually, and entirely.
To begin to have any future at all, we must drop the delusions.
Indeed, we humans are in the grip of many delusions and a myriad of contradictions. That grip can be visualized, then discussed. First, a picture of our plight, then some revelations behind the curtain obscuring the Hydra-Headed Dragon feasting on our ignorance, arrogance, and hubris:
Why We Can’t See the Dominating Dragon
The invisible Dragon dominating Life, Livelihoods, and Mother Earth to boot, is not visible to most all of us because we choose not to look, and if we do, we believe we can simply wish it away. A deeper explanation is necessary, but first, some revelations related to our Dragon’s many heads, along with his interconnected fire powers.
- We have created the Dragon and hidden it behind our delusions, particularly the delusions of those of us in the “developed-rich” world.
- Considering our Dragon’s heads, several are linked by the overweening excesses of our “way-of-life,” and lifestyles. A simple example is how much we are taking from Mother Earth compared to how much she can give us on a continuing basis. The gold standard of how we measure this is by our Ecological Footprint. And since we are taking twice as much from Mother Earth as she can provide, and we have been doing it for quite some time, then many of us will die or she will die. The only alternative is for fewer of us to take far, far, far, less from her nurturance. The valid and reliable facts are here.
Considering the G20 nations, and leading with the US, the plain facts are that the amounts of Mother Earth that we have used to live our pre-COVID “lifestyles” are more than twice what She has to give. And we have no plan for what to do except to attempt to return to what we considered “normal,” continuing to “goose” the economies of the wealthy world back into the complete destruction dragons that they still are.
- With COVID now, skies are clearer, air and waters are cleaner. Yet this year’s rise in CO2, measured in parts-per-million is expected to be 90% of what it would otherwise have been, 2.48 ppm, versus 2.80 ppm. CO2 is still rising faster than it was in the 1990s. We are still slow cooking, even with COVID. This virus has given us no extra time to sever the Dragon heads of our overshoots. We continue them, unremittingly. This virus clouds the field and further shields us all from what we are actually doing. While we are preoccupied with virus and with “opening up,” we are still sailing along into perdition.
Humanity’s Collective Task
The task is to steer a course toward a survivable future. That future will have to mean that fewer of us take far, far, far less from our benefactor, if we want to have a home or a nest for humanity, with our Mother Earth.
There is no option if we want humans to survive. So, can we see viability, and can we move toward it? What are the myths we live within, the fields of our dreams, and cloudy fantasies? Will COVID awaken us to our fantasies that obscure Reality? Stay tuned for more in this series.
By Michael Mielke, Board President, Association for the Tree of Life
The Hydra-Headed depiction of humanity’s many excesses above is by Jean Arnold
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