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Corona: A much needed wake up call!

Today is the 20th day since I am stuck here in our house on the outskirts of Bangalore. We came here on 21st from Hyderabad, managing to beat the Telegana border closure just in time. Had to cut short the 13-day Permaculture Design Course Regina and I were attending at Aranya Farms in Zahirabad, around 2 hours drive from Hyderabad.

The plan was to leave to our farm in Sakleshpura on 24th. But the lockdown was declared and we had no option but to stay put here. The only saving grace is that both our children are with us. So, it’s some quality family time and lots of time to sit back and reflect. This piece is a result of that reflection.

Corona, I think, has indeed been a blessing in disguise, in many ways. It has made us, the entire world, to stop on our tracks; we had no time; we were always in a tearing hurry; always in mad rush; where to? No one knows.

Too busy

But ofcourse we had to acquire that new iPhone just released; buy that swanky new car which would put us one notch up in our circles; buy that bigger house or may be a villa in that coveted gated community or that holiday home in the hills to declare to the whole world that ‘we had arrived’ (arrived where? Don’t ask me); or go on that cool Alaskan cruise to see the ice caps melting, to stand on a moving ice berg broken off from a million year old ice shelf (what an irony!); or taste that rare mellow single malt; or take pleasure in seeing our wealth grow – wealth built on paper money (and now increasingly digital money) based on an eternally growing magical stock market and real estate!

Yes, we were too busy, too preoccupied, to blinded, too caught up in a race to be always one step ahead; too busy video streaming on Netflix or Amazon Prime in the cozy media rooms; too busy scrolling endlessly and purposelessly on our latest smart phones; or posting selfies on social media; or letting our hair down in the newest night club or sipping that rare ale in the new-in-town microbrewery or sipping that single malt in the lounge bar.

  • too busy to hear the crises of anguish and despair coming from deep within the gut of Mother Earth

  • too busy to hear the cries of anguish and despair coming, from millions and billions of our fellow human beings starving, deprived of basic necessities of life, deprived of basic civil liberties; or from over 800,000 cattle, 140 million chicken, 3 million pigs, 1.4 million sheep and 8 Billion fish being slaughtered each day to satisfy our never ending hunger for those chicken legs and wings, pork spare ribs, steak, lamb chops, shark fin soup, and what not;

  • too busy see the utter destruction, pollution and ravaging of the virgin forests, ocean beds, sacred mountains and pristine rivers, lakes and stream – all to extract the last remaining natural resources (be it timber, oil, coal, minerals or sand) to satisfy our ever growing thirst and desire for a bigger house, swankier cars, latest iPhone, unlimited internet bandwidth, exotic holiday, and so on;

  • too busy to observe the disappearing bees, butterflies, fireflies, sparrows and millions of other species rapidly going extinct all around us in the 6th mass extinction the Earth has witnessed since its birth;

  • too busy to take note of the umpteen warning signals – loud and clear – that Mother Earth was sending us through extreme weather events of all kinds – floods, hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes of ever increasing intensity and frequency; wild fires which have been burning for many years and have even reached our backyards in many parts of the world; depleting water tables even at 1,500 ft below the ground, and underground reservoirs created over millions of years

  • too busy (and cocooned in our AC offices, malls and houses) to observe the rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns making many parts of the world highly inhospitable or unlivable, rapidly growing deserts, melting ice caps and glaciers at an alarming pace in the poles as well as our mountains;

  • too busy to be aware of the ever growing ocean dead zones 1000s of square kms in size and piles of plastic floating in them; of bottom trawling ripping up the ocean floor and cleansing it of all life to catch less 1% shrimp; of mountains of our trash accumulating in the landfills; of the rivers that no longer support any life and whose waters have become totally toxic; of the disappearing lakes to make way for that latest aspirational gated villa community; of the cities that have become increasingly uninhabitable with their grid locked traffic, pollution that has created mass health issues and ever growing slums and shanty towns and homeless people

  • too busy to hear anguished cries of the farmers who are being pauperized, driven to deep despair and suicide, driven away from their lands to provide cheap labour for our factories; of the tribals who are being brutally uprooted from their lands and way of life that has sustained them and their forest eco systems for thousands of years, in order to open up these virgin forests to mining plunder by the big corporations to satisfy our never ending thirst for electricity and material possessions

Illusory world of sand castles

Yes, too busy to see, know and understand that the world around us in a deep structural, existential crises of unparalleled proportions and collapsing, imploding

  • our economies, built on a foundation eternal GDP growth, driven by endless debt driven money supply and unbridled consumerism, are collapsing; our social structures imploding from within, communities pitted against each other polarized right down the middle, families torn apart, rising crime, hatred and intolerance, an outdated education system in deep crises

  • Our spiritual lives have become devoid of any spirituality and replaced with blind ritualistic homogenized religions that have lost all meaning and purpose

  • Our health and wellbeing totally compromised, with highly abnormal, unnatural, unhealthy and toxic diet becoming the normal, a ‘health care’ system held captive by vested interests of big pharma, insurance and hospital lobbies, meat and dairy lobbies, whose only focus is growth and profits and only interest is keeping us perpetually sick.

  • Our political systems that have been hijacked by authoritarian right wing ‘nationalistic’ sectarian dictators and their big business cronies aided and abetted by corporate controlled lapdog media and servile judiciary

Grinding Halt

But now literally overnight the whole world has been stopped right in its tracks. ‘Normal’ life, business as usual has come to a grinding halt. The roads are empty, the mega malls are deserted, the swanky cars are idling in the garages, the planes are grounded, factories are closed, cruise ships are docked, oil prices have crashed, markets have nosedived, all those shinning glass edifices are empty, the bars are closed; – in short the life as we have known has come to a grinding halt.

And what is causing it?

A tiny virus, around 20 nanometers (nm = 0.0000008 inch) in size, that we are calling Corona Virus or COVID19. And all our money, wealth, power, (of which we are so possessive) and deadly weaponry, the latest science and technology (of which we are so proud) cannot protect us from this tiny virus! And mind you that this virus, (with a global average mortality rate of 5-6%) is relatively much less harmful than many others that have come our way before.

Putting things in perspective.

There are trillions of viruses and bacteria in our body alone. When it comes to the Earth its literally infinite. Some of the numbers we hear, just for academic interest, are 10311031. as in, 10000000000000000000000000000000. And now scientists are telling us that there are many deadly unknown pathogens – viruses and bacteria – that are buried in the rapidly melting permafrost and glaciers that will become active soon as these melts. Humanity has not been exposed to these pathogens for thousands of years and in some cases millions of years.

Tip of the ice berg

But this tiny corona virus, which is only a dress rehearsal for the events to unfold (if we continue on our current path), is making us so helpless, so powerless, so fragile; has brought us back to the harsh reality from the illusionary world of ego, money, power and technology; showing us how vulnerable we are with our mega cities (smart or not) and unparalleled global travel network.

And viruses is only one challenge. There will be many more tougher ones in the form of natural calamities, wars and social unrest arising from a collapsing world, much beyond what we have experienced so far.

Nature is all about balance.

And balance is what we have destroyed in every facet of nature through our interventions since the industrial age in general and since the last 50 odd years in particular. But nature cannot and will not allow such gross imbalances to persist, as its against its fundamental laws and jeopardises its very existence. So restore balance it will, with or without our cooperation. Some level of destruction is inevitable as its only the other side of creation. But how painful and how destructive it will be entirely depends upon our actions going forward.

Time to introspect

It is a long overdue wakeup call. Now that our dream world has been shattered, lies in tatters, without knowing what tomorrow holds for us, it’s time we become wide awake and face the grim reality around us; a reality of our own creation. A reality which has arisen from our own actions driven by our worst instincts of greed, lust and pride. We no longer have the excuse of being busy. We have lots of time on our hands, locked down in our houses; time to reflect deeply, to introspect, to question.

One last opportunity

Perhaps Corona is giving us one last opportunity to face the reality, reverse course, abandon our completely unsustainable lifestyle and economic model that is at the root of the entire crises facing us; to take action to save ourselves and save our only plant from imminent doom should we continue on our current path. How and where do we go from here, is upto us. Corona crises is not going to unwind in a hurry. We are in this for the long haul. Our individual and collective actions, our karma over the next months and years, will determine our future and the future of our planet.

In the next blog I will focus on what we can do as a society and as most importantly as individuals gong forward.

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