Love in the Time of the Coronavirus

I’m not sure what is more dangerous. The Coronavirus or the herd mentality around fear. 

We’re inundated on the hygiene practices of washing one’s hands. A daily routine at our house not reserved exclusively for flu season. With that, I’m witnessing two ends to the Coronavirus spectrum. On one end, people who are freaked out, the other, those that don’t care. I recently read about some who had their flu shot, feeling that granted them immunity from basic hygiene. With both these attitudes, we can’t be surprised that we’re going the way of the dinosaur. A robust immune system is achieved by eating well, rest, washing one’s hands and keeping stress at bay. Insert some wisdom, a dose of love, and an attitude void of fear, and you will have a Marvel comic-book superhero immunity.

This pandemic is serving us in two ways. Firstly, as an opportunity to instigate and expand sanitary practices picking up from the days of SARS. Perhaps it’s time the ultraviolet disinfection that exists on our electric toothbrushes finds its way onto planes, and other public spaces, from grocery carts to public bathrooms.  Secondly, and more profoundly, it’s serving through global healing. Awakening the collective consciousness, and showing us we are one global family. That it is through unity, not separation, that we will overcome this. We are being asked to live in awareness so we can remedy the situation. You cannot be unconscious moving through this time.

What I haven’t heard a lot of discussion about is how did we get here? We speak about climate change and the environment, but what we are ignoring is the conversation on biodiversity—the balance of our ecosystem. Currently, one-third of the earth’s land surface is committed to food production, with 50% of our grasslands and one-third of our natural forests groomed for food production. What is on the rise are diseases that are passed from animals to humans as we continue to witness unparalleled destruction by human activity on all kinds of wildlife habitats. Scientists are suggesting that this action is encouraging accelerated evolutionary processes as an assortment of diseases as pathogens can quickly spread to livestock and then humans. The World Health Organization stated that an animal is the possible source of the virus, making this a zoonotic disease meaning transferable from animals to people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns, “…3 out of every 4 new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals.” The Hill reported “We should invest in plant-based agriculture and grow crops to feed people instead of farm animals, which would feed more people with less land and fewer resources, allowing rainforests and other vital ecosystems to be preserved, along with biodiversity and the earth’s natural capacity for regulating greenhouse gasses and other environmental threats. We all benefit when our common home, the earth, is healthier…Transitioning agriculture and government policies will take time, but each of us can make daily choices to help the planet and ourselves.”

Biodiversity is about balance in the ecosystem, and that’s what keeps our planet alive. We’re ignoring this fact pushing it to a place of negative consequence. A plant-based diet, once a trend is now an immediate and viable solution to save our planet and give it room to heal. “Humans and nature are part of one connected system, and nature provides the food, medicine, water, clean air and many other benefits that have allowed people to thrive,” said Doreen Robinson, Chief of Wildlife at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

With boundaries being pushed beyond what they should be, the merging of those variables is creating a landscape ripe for pandemics.  Within the last two decades, we’ve experienced SARS (2002) H1N1 (2009) MERS (2012) and now Coronavirus (2020). What all have in common is the disease is transferred from animals to humans, and yet we’ve become desensitized to that fact.

There is no doubt we are raping and pillaging Mother Earth, and it’s going to show up not only in the weather but pandemics. As a species, we’ve shown her how abusive we can be. It’s like we’re begging for extinction. There will come a day Mother Earth will pass a big fart, exhale and say that’s better and that’s once we’re all gone. She’s pissed off and rightfully so. We’ve treated her worse than a plant-based burger at a cattleman’s barbecue.

Outside of Coronavirus, we’re experiencing another pandemic called fear. While preparing dinner the other day, the television featured the Coronavirus on every channel as the celebrity Grim Reaper. It felt like an Amber Alert alongside simple sanitizing protocols. For a moment, I was sure that I had spiked a fever when all it was was a hot flash. I turned the television off, recognizing the fear had become as contagious as the virus. 

With business closures, the practice of self-isolation and social distancing, there are still those that will pick their nose without a tissue, yank something from their teeth or clutch the filthiest thing in their reach, their phones, rubbing them close to their face, all at a red light no less. We’ll slather toxic creams on our face, breathe in smoke, surround ourselves with radiation, eat food filled with chemicals and apply lipsticks dripping in lead and suddenly Coronavirus is what we’re fearing? As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, as a species, we’re just not that bright.  I’m not suggesting being dismissive but we must be cautious and mindful in everything, not just some things.  

Climate change has always been real. A scientist doesn’t need to tell me the snowbanks on our walkway have changed since I was a kid. The summers are hotter than I remember, the storms more frequent, and the fires are burning exponentially. So much so that even Satan is reassessing his digs. Bill Nye, the Science Guy, the Mr. Rogers of bunsen burners, has gone batshit mad, from “golly boys and girls” to “the planet is on fucking fire.” His words, not mine. It’s never good when the level headed barometer of scientific studies starts to use street language to voice his concerns. Truth is, as a species we are arrogant to believe we can dominate Mother Nature. News flash, we can’t.

Adding pandemics into the equation is the unnatural natural flow of what it looks like when you shit where you eat. Welcome to the new way of being.  By pushing the boundaries for our satisfaction and pleasure and not providing animals with areas where they can live and breed, we interfere not only in their natural cycle but our own. It’s inevitable that we will generate diseases and shouldn’t be surprised. This is a learning moment as the virus glares back at us, reminding us that we’ve crossed the line. It’s also a huge opportunity to flip the switch. To start living consciously and to make deliberate choices that will, in fact, heal the planet. Yes, behaviours will have to change, and we can’t be in resistance around that.  As I write this, stimulus packages are being looked at for clean energy transitions. Global emissions over China have gone down by 25%. People are helping each other, infusing wisdom where fear once reigned.

What is equally detrimental throughout this is the disease of discrimination and misguided information that has surfaced. Our favourite Chinese restaurant that typically has a line was empty when I last went for take-out. Then there are the storytellers projecting their fear onto the fears of others, spreading myths around items like bleach or cocaine to protect oneself from the virus, all fictitious. Manufactured stories around the beer Corona claiming its profits went down 38%. Not true. Fake connections are perpetuating fear by attaching itself onto the back of the virus. That’s why fear is dangerous. It’s misguided, finding every little crack and association it can to penetrate and take over. It’s a powerful way to control the masses when what it really is, is False Expectations Appearing Real. Imagine having to go through this living in a country where you don’t have access to food, clean water, sanitizing wipes, testing or God forbid toilet paper. What’s up with the run on toilet paper anyway? It’s not something you can eat like a fruit roll-up? 

What to do? With the constant bombardment of information, I don’t know anyone who isn’t well versed concerning the symptoms. Self-quarantine, call Telehealth, go to on-line assessment tools,  https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus  cull, do spring cleaning, organize your space, listen to music. Sit down and talk to your family.  I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at how interesting they are. Implement the sanitizing protocols, practice social distancing, catch up on the tasks you’re resisting, think with your brains, not your emotions. We are moving forward into a new conversation, and there are no solutions from the past that will serve us moving forward.  We need to be progressive and work together.

Whatever you do, don’t internalize the fear. It’ll disturb your sleep, affect your body, lower your immunity and you’ll store it in areas like your back and shoulders, worse yet, you’ll attract more. Release it once it surfaces. Your health is your wealth. That may sound contrived, it’s not. This pandemic is a great crash course on mindfulness and resiliency. It’s going to be okay. Support your local small businesses; they need you. Don’t support anyone who is profiting off of this. That is cruel and speaks to separation. Do a shout out to your local grocery stock boy.  They’re working hard.  Never before have we needed the unity we do now. Practice Love in a time of Coronavirus. Include compassion in your daily routine towards one another, the planet, and yourself. Support your foodbanks and blood banks. They both need you and find gratitude. It’s the sword that fear loathes.

No hysteria or fear. Just good ole’ common sense. Something our generation of women have fiftyfold. Ask Rita Wilson, who is an excellent example of the sensibility of the sisterhood. She and Tom Hanks were recently diagnosed with the virus and are taking it a day at a time.

As for the constant reporting, turn it off. It’s true, we’ve never been here before, and this is a new chapter and it’s serious.  Behaviours will need to change. Wash your hands, to what Gloria Gaynor has coined as the Coronavirus tune, “I will survive.” Be sensible. Above all, don’t use this experience to invite discrimination or fear. Be kind to one another. Stay home, let’s flatten the curve. We’re in this together.

And remember, viruses don’t discriminate. Dinosaurs do.  

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