When I was in my 20s, it was already clear to me that we were living in an untenable world. It was before the outcry about climate change. Before cell phone radiation, before the internet. Having traveled extensively in poor countries, I was thinking mostly of the inequity between rich and poor, between the first and the third world. The lack of fair sharing of the Earth’s resources. And the disrespect for human life on a worldwide basis, with its varying expressions in different places, some more, some less, obvious.
When I was in my 30s and “more spiritual,” I believed that the forces of light would be able to overcome the forces of darkness, that there was hope for the world. As I got older, and perhaps less spiritual, I began to doubt that. I realized that some major calamity was going to have to happen in order to change the consciousness of humankind.
Since that time, things have gotten immensely worse. Climate change, mass extinction of various species of animals, even more grueling lack of parity in the division of the world’s natural resources. Factory farming. Total lack of respect for and abuse of Mother Earth and other living beings. Recently, it became clear to me and many others, that we were really on the brink.
I always imagined that what would happen to wake us up would be much more brutal than what we’re going through now. I envisioned a nuclear Holocaust, an asteroid colliding with the Earth, worldwide hunger and drought as a result of climate change, and other horrible case scenarios. I am not belittling the difficulty of what we’re going through now, which is, indeed, very nasty. However, it is much less bad than what I’d imagined (I need to add a caveat that I am among the privileged ones who have been able to maintain at least some of their work, bli ayin hara, and I live by myself, enjoy my own company and my space, and am surrounded by gorgeous flowering nature, but I know there are many who are really suffering, not to mention those dying in horrific circumstances).
Will the coronavirus change the world to the degree that it needs to be changed? I’m doubtful. Will humankind come out of this into a better world and as a better species? Hopefully. I don’t think that this is going to solve the massive scale of problems in this world, but I think it can be a start in the right direction, and it is a true wake up call. We are being given a chance, and we’d better bloody well take it.
My main hope is that we come out of this changed. That humankind learns what it needs to learn, or begins to learn what it needs to learn, from the coronavirus. Because, if not, we are going to get something much worse. It is simply not possible to continue to live the way we’ve been living.
May this Pesach/Ramadan/Easter season not just bring liberation from COVID-19 and its ravages. May it bring us freedom from our old ways, and may we cross the sea into a new and more enlightened, more respectful, more loving, world.