Crisis and Opportunity

It is no secret to anyone that humanity is in the middle of one of the most acute crises in its history. However, each crisis represents opportunity. And I want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

For Pythagoras, The Universe is a great piece of music, a colossal and perfectly harmonious sounding movement. As a musician, I have always liked this concept and I would add that each one of us is a musical instrument that, when well tuned, is capable of creating beautiful melodic lines that can contribute to the great symphony. And clearly, the call to be a well-tuned and vibrant instruments is not just for artists, it is for everyone in the human society, or better yet: all members of the species.

It is actually through free will and our ability to recognize: our vulnerability; our interdependence; our need to live in community and that we are an integral part of the biosphere, that we can contribute to the solution. It is by learning to be conscious beings that we become part of the solution and stop being part of the problem. And in times of crisis, more than ever we are required as a species to recognize that we are that, one more species. One more among many species that inhabit this planet and that make up the greater Earth  Community as Thomas Berry calls it. The community of all living beings: The Biosphere. That fragile and thin layer of life that surrounds our planet. As humanity we are an integral part of this small living rock that for millions of year  has revolved around the star we call the Sun. Once we recognize that we are a living species among many others, we also have to recognize that the crisis that endangers almost all life systems, has been generated by us, by our constantly growing industrial culture.

Right now, COVID-19 is a health crisis that adds to a long list of situations created in a short time by humans that threatens almost all living species. As Bill Plotkin mention in his book Nature and the Human Soul, during the last two hundred years we have changed the chemistry of the earth, that of the oceans and that of the atmosphere to an extreme point. In the last fifty years we are witnessing the massive extinction of species; We have created gigantic islands of garbage that float in the oceans; we have polluted drinking waters (which is equivalent to only 4% of the world’s total waters); we have polluted the air to the point of creating a greenhouse effect and therefore global warming, which threatens the fragile climate balance; deforestation is everywhere, including the most biodiverse forests. We have cultivated a materialistic, hostile, not to say violent, racist and sexist human culture, which is ultimately self-destructive ( Plotkin B., Nature and the Human Soul, 2008).

The current COVID 19 pandemic has stopped us like nothing has since we are alive. We never imagined that something like this could happen. But it did. We have never seen anything like this before. And we are in shock. It is a situation that has forced us to look at ourselves as a species. Stopping has created some space for reflection. Space to question what is really important. And above all, to ask ourselves what comes next, once the preventive isolation is over. Many feel that it is an opportunity not to return to the same as before.

Maybe we were going too fast; perhaps we lost our north centuries ago; Perhaps the absurd dream of infinite economic growth drove us astray. The disconnection with nature has uprooted us from life. We no longer see or understand that we ARE nature and that we have the same needs as almost all animals: clean water, clean air and food. Neither our species nor the others can live without spring, summer, autumn, and winter, without forests, without other animals and plants, without blue skies and transparent seas.

We no longer know where we are going is as a species, we are confused. As William Ospina says: “Maybe the key is held by that unknown person who wrote on a subway wall in the Hong Kong”: We do not want to return to normality: normality was the problem.”

This is a good time to question ourselves about all that was normal just a few months ago but that we know well represents a serious imbalance for the natural order, for the well-being of each human being and for the good health of nature in general.  The normality to which we do not want to return according to our anonymous friend from Hong Kong is the normality of a lost species, victim of itself. It is time for good sense: the future of humanity and of all living species is at stake. It is time to prioritize life. It is time to create a culture in harmony with Nature on which we are deeply interdependent.

As the eco-philosopher Joanna Macy describes it, we are before “The Great Turning” where crisis becomes opportunity. Culture historian Thomas Berry talks about “The Great Work, that is, what we will have to do to achieve the noble objective of creating a bio-centric culture and start cleaning up the ravages. A new culture focused on Life – the well-being of all living systems. One, in which we are aware that our planet is a living miracle floating in space. When the Apollo mission astronauts first saw the earth from space, this one vision changed their lives forever. We already know that life with the exuberance we find on earth does not exist anywhere else in the solar system. Perhaps our planet carries a main melody within the great cosmic symphony and we do not know it.

The Great Turning is in our hands. And it is a cultural change, more than a technological one. For the technological solutions already exist. The first step will necessarily have to be cultural and individual. For each one of us, together, constitute the culture we inhabit. It is time to recognize that Life is sacred and we cannot continue destroying it. It is time for each of us to vibrate, as a well-tuned instrument, responsible and aware of the melody we emit at each moment. It is time to be optimistic and to know that change depends on each one of us. It is time to create the new Life centered culture and design a sustainable and inclusive economy, prioritizing solidarity and not competition.

It is our opportunity, here and now, perhaps there will be no other.