If we are willing, the COVID-19 pandemic can teach us some important lessons that have been a long time coming. We are all socially unmasked now, as we wear our physical masks, and what we see is not a flattering picture of our humanity.
Consider our treatment of animals, and its relation to COVID-19. Though reports vary, it is highly likely that the virus circulated in a “wet market” in China, a place where live animals are traded. It is believed the virus likely originated in bats, with the pangolin – an illegally traded mammal – being an “intermediary host” between bats and humans. Wet markets have historically been implicated in other cases of coronavirus, including SARS many years ago. So it begs the question: Why haven’t the wet markets been closed? But beyond that, why do we continue to treat animals this way? Our regard for them, globally, has contributed not only to their cruel treatment, but also to the climate crisis, which has been disavowed by so many, still. The ingestion of animal flesh too, along with animal by-products, has been well chronicled to cause many of the chronic health conditions that plague us. So why do we continue in this fashion? What century are we living in?
We are now being given an opportunity to no longer mask these realities, to see the bigger picture, of benefit to all sentient beings – us and them. We must stop exploiting these creatures, and putting our own health at risk by taking part in practices that don’t serve our own well-being, much less theirs.
Notice too, how this dovetails with our current healthcare crises, another pandemic truth both in the US and globally. Those who suffer are not invisible, yet we mask the truth of this, to make life more palatable. How can we stand by and let this happen? Truly, there is no difference between us. We live and die the same way. In my view, there are three issues that have come to the fore – abuse of the animals, the environment, and each other – that have brewed to such a fever pitch, that – yes – a fever of epic proportions has emerged. We’re smarter than this. Now, those who’ve promoted greed over the dignity of all have no safety. Their own families are at risk. Their children, they themselves, and their dogs and cats too. It is my hope our new masks will help us all turn inward and see with fresh eyes, and saner truths will prevail as we move forward.
As for the “us” portion of this triumvirate of error, how we’ve treated each other, the divisiveness, the rancor, must go now if we are not only to survive, but to create a new, thrivable reality for ourselves past this point. Our lives depend on our mutual cooperation.
Neat trick you’ve played, nature. The joke is on us. The warning signs have been here for a very long time, but I see you’ve tired of waiting for us, and are getting our attention this way. I feel sometimes like it’s my first day in kindergarten when I meet another masked fearful face, with its deer-in-the-headlights look. We so need grace to see us through.
For each other, for the sake of the animals, for our own collective health, so precious to us all, let’s become better now. It’s way past time. “If you have your health, you have everything,” my mother used to say. We all deserve that. Every sentient one of us.