Covid and the Earth - Changes.... by Kelly Klein

Mother feeding her little one, Pushkar, India - Kelly Klein

I am sharing my thoughts, my reflections as a gift of love. You may agree with some or nothing. I mean no offense to anyone.  We are all in this together.

I have felt very quiet this last month or so. As the covid-19 virus spreads throughout the human population in all corners of the world (a few isolated islands and Antarctica are still Covid-19 free), the life of “normalcy” came to a screeching halt for millions.

It is difficult to imagine what so many are going through as we each live in our limited perspectives. What is it like for rural Africans who have very little in terms of health care, infrastructure, education, or resources? What is it like for the drug addict, whose body so desperately depends on the regular intake of chemicals? And those suffering from severe depression or suicidal leanings with nowhere to go, no one to touch? The animals at zoos and rescue shelters…all the NGO’s who are losing funding to support the neediest populations of people and animals dependent on care? The lack of food as transport shuts down, millions in India hungry and homeless as they lost their jobs as day workers, with no money, no shelter, no food. The fear…the incredible debilitating fear that causes folks to close their hearts and respond with anger, tears, anxiety, selfishness, building walls..

Kelly Klein

I try to imagine what it is like for another, and yet the true scenarios are endless.  I work to extend my heart. I try to open my mind and heart to the different challenges that each person is facing, each one unique and fraught with difficulty, suffering, and different ways of experiencing joy. And then I turn my heart to the virus itself.

What is a virus? Is it alive or is it chemical in nature? I think of viruses like seeds. They have the potential to grow and transform but without a host it is not possible, just as a seed needs water and sunlight. Viruses have been around since the beginning of cellular life. They are an intricate part of the natural world and have certainly shaped evolution. I feel a very deep respect for viruses. While there are many, many theories about the source of the virus, whether it was an intentional or not, to me it doesn’t really matter. It is what it is, a virus that has found a host to live, multiply and spread. And viruses have always been and likely will always be a part of this life on earth.

Lumbini, Nepal - Kelly Klein
I am fascinated by viruses. Outside of natural disasters, I see viruses as nature’s way of controlling humanity. In general, it seems that we tend to think and act as if the planet and all its resources are ours, to use and deplete for our survival and comfort. As a result, we have reached a tipping point of what this earth can sustain, the global warming as a result of our actions and way of life, the severe increase of species extinctions, the inequitable distribution of wealth and resources. Perhaps the virus has surfaced to take back some control. Perhaps the virus is nature’s way of saying “Enough!”  Perhaps the earth knows better than we do, knows that if it is to continue to thrive and sustain all of life, it needs to shake us up. Perhaps we are being called to examine our way of life, our unique perceptions of reality, or what it truly important, and all the things that distract us from living simply and sustainably.  Perhaps we are being asked to return to live with the land, dependent on the soil, sun, and water, dependent upon using the simple resources of dried leaves, rocks, branches, clay and sand, dependent on community, sharing resources, skills, knowledge, and labor. I believe this is the only way forward for us as a human community, but is it even possible? We are so privileged and accustomed to making choices for ourselves, as individuals, rather than the greater good.

 I am afraid my views of humanity are a bit pessimistic at this time. I am doubting that we will change our ways, let go of comfort and convenience for the greater good.  We too often rely on or blame governments, big business, etc. for the problems and granted they share a huge responsibility. But I believe each of us holds the same responsibility. We like meat and yet know how toxic the meat industry is to the planet, not to mention the pain caused to other sentient beings. We buy and buy to make our lives more comfortable, not willing to see the larger picture and our individual contributions to the devastation, nor do we seem willing to make the personal sacrifices. As I said, feeling pessimistic.

Phyang, Ladakh - Kelly Klein

For the first time in memories, people are witnessing the earth healing, clear skies, views of distant mountains, water sources becoming cleaner and animals beginning to multiply and experience a new freedom. I like to think of the virus as a nature’s way of reclaiming the earth and attempting to repair some of the devastation we have caused.

But when the virus goes back underground again and is no longer a threat, will we continue in our old ways of consumption, overuse, and abuse? Will we attempt to grow our own foods, create community gardens accessible to all in cities, live a simpler more sustainable life? Curb our desires and comforts for the good of the planet?

I see the empty streets, the world shut down as a sign of love, a show of solidarity. By isolating we are expressing love, love for our neighbors, strangers, grandparents, selves. It is a gift we offer, despite the discomfort, to all of humanity as well as this amazing planet, the natural world that sustains us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. At the same time, I see it as a time of grieving, of uncertainty. But fear does not need to be the motivating factor. Love can be what guides us. We are moving from a place of I, to us.  It is not necessarily an easy path, certainly not comfortable for many. But I do trust that when we collectively operative from love, from generosity, from compassion, then nothing is impossible, nothing is unbearable. 

Lotus and boat, Vietnam - Kelly Klein

May we be free from fear.

May we be free from animosity and blame.

May we be have strength of heart, to act from a place of love, for self, for others, for all of nature, for this planet.

May we together create a new day, a new beginning for the wellbeing of all.


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