Musings on the Current Impasse with Covid-19 by Cathy McGrath

On my bedroom wall is a beautiful painting of the Okavango Swamps, Botswana. We went there when we first got married. Unashamedly we felt entitled to be a part of the animals’ environment. It was a quiet visit, tranquil. The camp was nestled into the natural habitat, the showers were buckets up in the trees that swung over and drowned you when you pulled a string—exhilarating. The days were spent slinking through the swamps in a mokoro–a small dugout canoe–expertly driven by the guide, a local gentleman who was born and bred in the area, he was the one entitled to be there. Softly, silently and steadily he swept us through the little canals of the swamps as we admired the birds, the grasses and the clear water. Once, we took a gentle dip in the water as Gabriel (the guide) kept watch for crocodiles—madness I’m sure and once again entitlement gone wrong perhaps. As I said the visit was sedate, no beer-swilling, no shouting, and no crowds, just us, the guide, a few others and the wild. It was beautiful and we were privileged.
But today I sit and wonder, do we humans think we’re entitled to be part of all these places on Earth? Must we always take and grab for ourselves? I suppose it’s about a balance. That visit was certainly low key and sans fanfare and I don’t think we rocked the equilibrium of the habitat by quietly just being there. It was long before the age of phones (says a lot about my age I know) and all the ‘sharing’ that goes on today, so we did it alone and quietly. But here’s where the picture on my wall led me to…..
Namaste….. We meditate, we sedate but why do we prevaricate? Namaste, we say but when we leave the yoga session is that what we do? I was looking at some item as I was throwing it out into my ever-enlarging, engorged in fact, recycling bin. ‘Made in China’ it said on it and it made me think again, linked to my thoughts from the Okavango painting, was Covid 19 also ‘Made in China’? Not that this is a blame game but more a thought of how we are responsible for all these things that happen in our world. We continue to consume, to need, to want, we bring it all in from China. Do we ever stop to think before we buy yet another plastic bin we don ’t need; do we ever stop to think before we throw out another half bottle of shampoo we half used and just didn’t like the smell of. D o we ever stop and think what ‘Made in China’ means. It means people in China racing against time to churn out these things we so desperately ‘need’, people sometimes existing in dismal circumstances earning a pittance to make us our ‘stuff’. And guess what… until recently the empty containers of all the things we use d and then tossed asunder, the recycling, was sent back to China for them to deal with—the irony of it. At least they have now said no longer will they take our rubbish. Is it time we really looked at how we consume, how we use and how we live in this world. I think Covid 19 is a little reminder to this. A very sad reminder for a lot of people who have so tragically lost loved ones.
By the same token and on the reverse side the way China consumes also needs to be assessed. Consider the rhino, those beautiful creatures, which are shamelessly being poached and slaughtered for the end user who only wants the horn. They want the horn because they believe it offers certain magical properties which of course it does not. The poachers will no longer hunt and kill and maim the rhino if they no longer have a market for it
I do not stand and shake my finger at the rest of humanity. These are questions I’m asking myself and certainly I wonder are we entitled to take just as we please from this earth, even when it ’s just a quiet sedate holiday in some untrammeled place. Should we go there? Do we need to go there? Is it all ours? No I don’t think so and at the same time I think we should consider this— we should consider the earth more respectfully and next time in yoga when we position ourselves in salutation to the sun and so blithely say ‘Namaste ’ perhaps we should truly mean it.

1 Comment

  1. Lovely piece. How I’d love to visit Botswana. Agreed. Just caught the end of a Newstalk report (I’ve out my old wireless by my bed for random spotting of news – now who is showing their age!) so some older doctor has come out of retirement and said – “Smile and talk to the people who are 3 feet away from you” and also after listenting to Leo’s speech again, he did say, “most of you may only suffer a flu if you get COVID-19” – we collectively are not remembering that. Panic shopping and waves of anxiety are happening because we are consuming too much mixed media too much of the time, thanks to these lovely beautiful slinky stylish devices in our hands.

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