Over the past few weeks of lockdown in Greece, I have asked myself numerous times: if we can shut down the world economy because of a virus, why don’t we shut everything down until we end war or find real solutions to global climate change? In my mind the horrors of war are much worse than the horrors of disease and dying and the threat and reality of global extinctions pose a much greater threat to humanity (not to mention nature) than the Coronavirus.
Why is it that we are willing to take extreme measures to defeat the Coronavirus but we are not willing to take extreme measures to end war or to stop global climate change? A thought keeps creeping into the back of my mind: the fight against disease and death is (understood to be) a fight against Mother Nature and (sadly) we are well used to fighting against Her. If we recognized that human beings have brought the Coronavirus upon ourselves, we would have to face up to our responsibility for it.
I suspect that after Coronavirus is “conquered,” we will still be vilifying Mother Nature as the cause of disease and death, and we will still be trying to deny that death is the appropriate end of human life and all lives on our planet. Moreover, we probably will still have not recognized that the cause of the Coronavirus pandemic is not Mother Nature’s callous desire to “get us in the end.”
Recently Woman Spirit Ireland sent me the musings of scientist, environmental activist, and ecofeminist Vandana Shiva on the Coronavirus pandemic. I urge you to read the entire document, but to make a long story short, Shiva tells us that human beings are the cause of the current crisis. According to Shiva, the Coronavirus pandemic is rooted in the false belief that nature is but a resource for human beings to use. This false belief is fueled by an insatiable greed telling us that we have a right to use nature in any way we choose.
Shiva writes that viruses like the Coronavirus occur naturally in the web of life. They may be carried by animals for hundreds or thousands of years with no real damage being done because the animals who carry them do not usually come into close contact with human beings. The reason viruses like the Coronavirus become epidemic is that we human beings are destroying the natural habitats of the animals with whom we share life on our planet.
Most of us have seen footage of hungry polar bears entering towns and turning over garbage cans in Alaska. This is not an isolated occurrence. Rather it is happening on a massive scale. As animals venture into towns and cities seeking food because the forests and rivers where they once found it are no longer, the likelihood that they will transmit viruses that they carry without becoming ill increases. If wild animals transmit a virus to animals being kept in the deplorable conditions of factory farms, of course it will spread. Viruses will also spread more rapidly in crowded cities, especially in areas with inadequate sanitation. Moreover, warmer temperatures prolong the lives of transmitters of disease like mosquitoes.
The cause of the Coronavirus is human greed and the false belief that nature is but a resource for us to use to fulfill our real and imagined needs. Rather than celebrating Mother Nature as the Source of Life—our lives and all lives—we imagine that She is the enemy. Why? Because every now and then, and with increasing frequency, She reminds us that we are not all powerful and not immortal. We react with anger. We will conquer death, we say, no matter what it takes. We will control nature.
What we do not realize is that we will never conquer death. Death is the appropriate ending of our finite lives. Every single one of us will surely die. In that regard—and in many others—we do not control nature. Our individual lives are part of something much larger than any one of us. We are all connected in the web of life.
Our lives have ground to a halt so that we can fight and defeat the Coronavirus. But no one is telling us that the real villain in this story is ourselves. You and me and our false belief that we can and should control nature.
Our ancestors knew better. Accepting death, they celebrated the Source of Life and the cycles of birth, death, and regeneration. Can we do the same? We need to act on this ancient belief. We must place the recognition that we are all connected in a web of life much bigger than our individual selves at the forefront of all the decisions we make about the future of life on our planet.
Carol P. Christ is an internationally known feminist and ecofeminist writer, activist, and educator who will soon be moving to Heraklion, Crete. Carol’s recent book written with Judith Plaskow, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology, is on Amazon. A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess is on sale for $9.99 on Amazon. Carol has been leading Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete for over twenty years: join her in Crete. Carol’s photo by Michael Honneger.
Listen to Carol’s a-mazing interview with Mary Hynes on CBC’s Tapestry recorded in conjunction with her keynote address to the Parliament of World’s Religions.
16 thoughts on “Coronavirus: The Villain Is Not Mother Nature: It Is Ourselves by Carol P. Christ”
thanks Carol for writing this: I agree that a lot of the response to the pandemic is fear/denial of death in general, and that for many it is configured as a war against the Mother. Hopefully though many will see the connections more clearly than before: to self, other and all – at least the opportunity is there, and hopefully that will really shift some minds.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I hope so with all my heart.
LikeLiked by 1 person
So right you are, Carol. To quote Dr Christine Page, – if we don’t start to understand this and change, we may well not enter into the Age of Aquarius.
Very best wishes
LikeLiked by 1 person
Reblogged this on Project ENGAGE.
I completely agree with everything you’ve said, Carol.
Another vision that popped in a couple days ago as well: Maybe the Source is not only practical and indifferent, but simultaneously infinitely benevolent.
If humans really could fulfill a role of planetary caretakers and creative arts/delight makers, we would have some true value to the whole. If it took this long for us to evolve this far, maybe it still is more efficient if we would wake up, rather than be punished in a patriarchal paradigm. What would wake us up to precisely the right degree without knocking us so far back that we lose our collective wisdom and infrastructure-of-benevolence (physical, communicative, etc)?
Maybe Team Mother Source has been honing attempts to get our attention for decades. Ecosystem degradation too amorphous, SARS, MERS, Ebola, too localized and fatal, and so on. In that sense, this pandemic has forced everyone to stop and pay attention — to our fragility, interconnectedness, obsession with things other than Life…
LikeLiked by 1 person
So great to see this succinctly expressed, than you!
Brava to you and to Vandana Shiva. I agree with you both that it’s not Mother Nature trying to kill us but that this current virus is a result of human hubris and greed.
How many of us remember the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 90s? When no one in the White House would even utter the word “AIDS”? I suspect that Dr. Anthony Fauci is having major feelings of “deja vu all over again” right now. Reagan didn’t listen to him. Is Trump listening to him? I guess we can hope that people–if not the so-called president–will listen to Fauci this time.
Let’s all stay home and safe and healthy.
Very well said, Carol! Thank you.
Carol, I add my thanks to all those above for your powerful witness. What a timely idea: that we shut everything down to resolve global conflicts, create just economies and agricultural practices, to repair the damage we have done to the living earth. It seems to have taken a pandemic (brought on by our own heedlessness) to put humans on pause. We have a chance to reflect and make fundamental changes. May our kind awaken to kindness toward each other and all life.
What distresses me is that the people most responsible for the environmental depredation that has led to this pandemic and other crises are the most able to take care of themselves in comfort, isolate in every sense, while people with less suffer the most.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I hardly know where to begin here. We are responsible for this virus – humans and no one else – certainly not Nature. And yes fear of death is only too real and part of the human condition. I certainly have been afraid and continue to be…
Your words “The cause of the Coronavirus is human greed and the false belief that nature is but a resource for us to use to fulfill our real and imagined needs. Rather than celebrating Mother Nature as the Source of Life—our lives and all lives—we imagine that She is the enemy.”
We definitely want someone to blame. Having arrived in Maine after living here my entire life, my friend the Postmistress ‘warned” me that I really wasn’t welcome because I may have brought the C/virus with me…( little chance of that -slept in woods – bathroom in woods – food brought with me – the only risk was at gas stations where gloves were used…self isolated for 5 weeks before traveling…) Of course, it’s natural to want to be angry or upset – when I saw that NO ONE but one person from NM on wore any form of protection at all I was STUNNED. The real threats come from folks like this – and if gas stations are indications of the attitude of the general public it is really no surprise that this epidemic is spreading – and gosh we all are needing food, gas or medicine. In this area everyone is using protection as I discovered today while trying to shop. But these folks are blaming too.
In Maine we blame anyone from away – or someone like me trying to get home –
Blaming Nature is at the top of everyone’s list – and will we learn? Frankly I doubt it… I have to post this on the internet – It’s just too good… Many blessings Carol.
Reblogged this on Mused by Magdalene and commented:
As usual when I reblog I am in profound agreement and completely convinced of the importance of the ideas I am distributing words. Doubly true here. Thank you Carol.
Re: “death is the appropriate end of human life”, please comment on the idea that dying alone is to be avoided. I have been present at several human deaths, and all those people died alone. Once they were past a certain point, their “attention” or “focus” was all on what lay before them, not who was in the room with their bodies. Surely nurses and hospice workers will have an opinion, and I think it would be helpful to those who lose their friends/relatives to Covid-19 to know that those deaths were a release. I look forward to your insight.
I did notice my mother losing interest in some things before she died. I cannot comment further as I don’t have a lot of experience.
YES YES YES!
Date: Monday, April 6, 2020 at 12:04 AM
To: Vicki Noble
Subject: [New post] Coronavirus: The Villain Is Not Mother Nature: It Is Ourselves by Carol P. Christ
Carol P. Christ posted: “Over the past few weeks of lockdown in Greece, I have asked myself numerous times: if we can shut down the world economy because of a virus, why don’t we shut everything down until we end war or find real solutions to global climate change? In my mind the”