A new year is a great time for reflection. These days, as a new year begins according to the Hebrew calendar, I think we should reflect on what Covid-19 has meant for us as a society. Where were we going? Right up to the outbreak, the international tensions were rising to such levels that everyone tacitly agreed that a huge war was going to break out. America vs. China, Russia vs. America, North Korea vs. America, Pakistan vs. India (both nuclear powers), regional and global conflicts were threatening to erupt the world over. The virus forced it all to stop. It gave us a hiatus, a chance to reroute.
The coronavirus showed us also how quickly nature recovers if we only leave it alone. For a few weeks, we witnessed a recovery of wildlife that we’ve never seen before and didn’t think was possible. But as soon as the closures were eased, we resumed our gluttony, as if saying “Nature can wait.”
The pandemic, unprecedented fires, insane hurricane season, street and domestic violence, racial and social tensions, and all the other blows that have landed on us this year indicate that we are facing a systemic shift. But they have saved us from ourselves. Whatever harms the disasters have caused, they are far less than what we would have, and will cause ourselves with our total alienation and abusive attitude toward nature and toward people. We were on the brink, and nature pulled us back from the edge.
I hope it does not let us go there again, and I hope we will finally understand that we have to stop and think about our lives. Nature has stopped our rat-race, but we have to ask why. If we do that, then we can build a great life together. If we don’t then either nature will continue to restrain us through increasingly painful blows, or we will destroy ourselves and much of the planet along with us.