With wave 2 of the pandemic now in full swing, we are in uncharted, stormy waters yet again. Perhaps this was meant to be, given that the ship of humanity had been aimlessly roaming the oceans for quite a few centuries now, stubbornly obsessed with mirages and hallucinations of fake treasure islands far into the horizon. The more we chase them the more they move further away, as the salty waves slowly but steadily weather the timbers of the ship and scurvy takes a toll on its crew. Yet we persist, choosing to hunt for treasures that don’t exist rather than go back to a peaceful life on land. Nothing has changed. We are still lost, aimless, hopelessly addicted to the comforts of civilisation that we so fervently believed were worth ignoring our physical and mental health for. We all became CO2 super spreaders, choosing to put our own happiness on quarantine in order to get dose after dose of the most addictive drug that has ever existed: profit.
But like the parent of a teenager, nature is on to us: It has gone through our endless piles of trash, it has looked under our mattress, and found the incriminating syringes. It is taking the drugs away. The party is over, at least for now. The Virus has become Earth’s Messenger, putting capitalism under curfew. After hundreds of years of natural destruction, for the first few months in a millennium nature is winning. The humans are retreating from everywhere: there are no planes in the sky. No polluting supertankers. No emitting vehicles. A species that dominated this planet for centuries is hiding behind closed doors for now, pulling back the curtain every once in a while to look out on the street and into a world that it doesn’t recognise anymore. A world that it almost brought to the brink, and a world that is determined to move forward, with or without humans. Earth is fighting tooth and nail to find its balance again. Did the planet just save humanity from total collapse? And could this be a moment of regret and introspection?
It may seem that the world is coming to an end, but it is quite the contrary. Our actions have triggered the immune system of the planet. The planet is trying to heal itself. And we have the opportunity to reconsider our position on this planet, to realise that our own health depends on safeguarding the planet’s health. Either both of us die or both of us live. This story can only end well if we realise that the treasures were a figment of our imagination. The real treasures have been here all along, waiting for us back home, on dry land. Some of them are priceless, and some of them have infinite value that cannot be measured, bought, sold: Health. Dignity. Biodiversity. Instead, we made them cheap, dragging them through the dirt and processing them through the sausage machine of capitalism, until they came out the other end looking identical to our own excrement. It is no wonder that by far the most dire need in the Coronavirus crisis is toilet paper. We are all made out of shit.
Our civilisation is in the Emergency Room. This is our chance. The ship must turn around now. We’re going home.