What does this outbreak tell us about our relationship to life and to beautiful Gaia? Is the Coronavirus a messenger and also a symptom of a way of being in the world that no longer serves us at the personal or at the collective?
I've noticed I flinch every time someone says "we are at war" with the Coronavirus, so I was heartened to read this article by Simon Tisdall who talks about the tendency in a crisis to invoke war as an analogy. War, he says, is chaos. It is limitless death and destruction. He notes how politicians, scientific "experts" and commentators now routinely resort to wartime metaphors. We are witnessing this tendency right now when we hear statements from so-called world leaders suggesting that this is the second "Battle of Britain" and indeed from the US the President declaring himself to be a "wartime president". This lionising of war is deeply embedded in my own (the UK) nations' psyche and also in the realms of the public sector health systems within which I used to work and that observed in our systems of medical training that seem to have become firmly wedded to the mindset that regards pathogens as "enemies to be defeated" and with the use of terms such as “shock and kill” which have become widely accepted idioms within certain spheres of research. There is an irony and a dissonance when hearing militaristic metaphors used in this way. Why is it that healers, doctors and researchers committed to improving health continue to utilise violent metaphors when doing so runs the risk of devaluing human life? It is this kind of language and symbolism that needs to be radically and critically challenged, especially when used to express scientific ideas within emerging health-related crises and even more crucially now during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sure, the challenges posed by wars and pandemics might, on the face of it, appear to require similar responses, but the language of war is divisive. It is dividing families and communities. It has the potential to harm on many levels and also results in people referring to their own bodies in this way too... for example echoing what we hear from others we may refer to personalising the conflict by expressing things like "my fight with arthritis".
A while back I read the thought-provoking book "Man Made Language" by Dale Spender, who alludes to how our world has been defined from a position of being in this endless fight against the world, using the language of dominance, conquest, power-over and subordination. Is your perspective that the Coronavirus is an unruly force that needs controlling? Even politicians, officials and celebrities are affected. It isn't responding to our attempts to "stamp it out" or "eradicate it" as, in the past, humans (I hesitate to use the word humankind) have done to each other and to all kinds of other beings. Or is your perspective that it is a "cunning scallywag" - a trickster that seemingly knows no boundaries and that we need to connect with from a more multidimensional perspective? Or something in between? Personally, the sooner we can view it respectfully as a messenger and change the way we refer and relate to it, the better and the language we use to express what is happening is inextricably part of this. Just as has happened with diseases like "Ash die-back" (Chalara disease) that has devastated our beloved World Tree (how deeply symbolic is this) the response has sadly been similar; cut down all the affected trees. This is the most extreme form of response and control. It seems to be a default stance to health problems whether they be in the body, in a tree, the land or some kind of virus; the response tends to be to find something to fight. The saying was coined, I believe, in the 1960's that says "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will start treating all your problems like a nail". The "battle" and "fight for control" no longer makes sense in the light of ecology and complexity theory, which sees Coronavirus and all organisms like it, the land, the trees and human beings as part of an interconnected whole. Yet... Coronavirus is not an "it"; it is not discrete or separate from, let's say, anthropogenic (human derived and created) practices of eradication. If dis-eases proliferate then we need to be asking “what has disrupted our relationship with the rest of life?” The answer might be closer to home than we are comfortable with.
Can we let go of the "us-versus-the-coronavirus" mindset?
Is the Coronavirus really an "enemy" with which to "do battle?"
Like others, I was deeply moved and inspired by the Imagined letter from COVID-19 featured on Campfire Voice recently by Kristin Flyntz here and I am inclined to agree, perhaps controversially for many, that it truly is a messenger of a deeply unwell society and one of many symptoms/byproducts of the old, service to self ways of being that have "othered" Nature when we are, as humans, whether we choose to believe this or not, inextricably part of and one with Nature?
Maybe there is another way. More akin to the spirit of conscious, peaceful, heart-based communication, I find myself wondering... is about time we stepped into our truth and sovereignty to co-create a more loving, peaceful way of wordifying the challenges we have right now? And, as everything starts with us as a fractal of the whole human organism, can we commit, at the personal, to a language detox, of sorts, where we honour ourselves and others with supportive words by consciously being more aware of any self-deprecating language? Can we be transparent with friends and loved ones and let them know that we are changing the way we speak about the world, ourselves and others? Can we gently step away from a conversation when it goes "low-vibe" and adversarial? Avoid the creation of distortion, duality, separation or judgment with our own words? Indeed, the hardest challenge of all can be to retrain our own words, thoughts and expressions and to bless rather than curse ourselves, for when we are in right relationship with ourselves, our distancing, withdrawal and self-isolating has the potential to be a much kinder, more healing and conscious process of re-membering, self-reconnection and self-mastery that ripples back to the rest of humanity and all of life.
I'd love to hear your insights and wisdom. How can we dream and word a more beautiful world into being?