Earth Day and COVID-19

April 22, 2020

Let me begin by saying that my first thoughts go out to all of you who have felt the brutal and blunt end of this pandemic, in particular those who have lost loved ones, or who have fallen very ill themselves.

I’m sure I am not alone when I say that in these extraordinary times, many, many thoughts run through my mind. How did this happen? What can we do to prevent events like this in future? Can we at least mitigate the incredible human and economic damage it has wreaked upon us? And what are the lessons to be learned?

On this Earth Day, I feel my journey of reflection begins with the Earth itself, and all the sacredness and sanctity of the natural world. We call this planet our “Mother Earth” since it is the very essence which brings us life. Yet most of us on this planet are well acquainted with how we have damaged it.

If I were to have one prayer today it is this: May the lives of those who have been lost or severely harmed through this pandemic lead us all to reflect on the incredible opportunity this historic moment is presenting us.

We know the origins of this pandemic occurred in a wet market where live, wild animals were in too-close proximity to humans. We also know that the human species, through decimation of habitat, is driving more and more wildlife into extinction or into too-close proximity to other species, including our own.

Today in the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, there’s a picture and story by photographer Edward Burtynsky, who produced  The Anthropocene Project, which he describes as “a body of work combining fine art photography, film, virtual reality, augmented reality, and scientific research to investigate human influence on the state, dynamic, and future of the Earth”.

I believe we must seize this moment and urge our governments and community leaders to bring about profound changes in the model of our societies – a model based on a different balance of priorities and values. First and foremost, we must respect and protect Mother Earth and embrace our wholesome integration with the natural world.

To everything there is a reason. Ours is not only a crisis to get through, but most importantly to learn from.

May the courage we’re mustering now turn to conviction when we come out the other side.