written by Rodrigo Arce Rojas
Everything we are living through in these difficult times is showing us the need for an ecologically-informed world view, as we can now clearly perceive the great weave of the Universe in which everything is interconnected.
As Western civilization, we have attempted to deny that great weave and we have lifted up individuality; we have invented social, political and economic systems that create distances and put up barriers between us; we have created asymmetrical taxonomies of inequality. Yet now we realize that those fictions of absolute individuality, those myths of our superiority, are false; this pandemic shows us that all of us, without exception, are interconnected.
It doesn’t matter where in the world you are, your happiness and your misery matter to me, because we are one. It doesn’t matter how much material success you can flaunt in the face of a democratic pandemic. It doesn’t matter how anthropocentric you think you are, the natural world will remind you that we are all part of Nature.
Beyond the artificial divisions we have created, are the values of unity, of collaboration, of dialogue, of synergy. This is an invaluable opportunity to rethink how we have designed our world. As a conscious and aware element of the natural world, we have the beautiful mission of a universal redesign process, one which human animals, non-human animals, and Earth beings enter joyfully to deliberate how to regain the fluid nature of cosmic harmony.
In this harmonious rainbow of being, we can even listen to the voices of those who have no voice yet are still part of our relational universe. Animals, forests, mountains, and rocks know how to smile, if we can step beyond our reductionist ontologies.
Paradoxically, the need to be quarantined helps us better understand the value of freedom. Yet not only freedom in physical terms, but freedom in the broadest sense of the word, the freedom to think, the freedom to feel, the freedom to conceive beyond conventional forms of thinking and beyond the domination of the media which had led us to believe that we were living in the best of all worlds and that nothing needed to change, as our ways of seeing the world had brought us success as measured by economic growth.
We have now felt in our own bodies and souls, what it means to take away the freedom of animals in zoos, in aquariums, in cages, in fish tanks, on farms, in the name of our unlimited desires for control and domination. We are now the ones who are caged, and we realize that we do not need cages in order to be locked in by ways of thinking that deny our interdependence with the rest of the natural world.
The moving and impactful images of various animals entering into previously human-dominated land and water ecosystems, are showing us that it is we ourselves who have earlier displaced them and disturbed their well-being.
Our tendency to conquer territories and cultures, has spilled over into the conquest and transformation of the habitats of wild animal species. But we have not only torn them from their territories, we have also also attacked them with rains filled with chemicals that poison the earth, the water, the air. In this fantasy-filled war of control over the natural world, it is we ourselves who end up harming our own chances for a full life, yet we simply do not want to see this, assuming that later on everything can be reversed with technoscience.
To our global shame, leaders of “developed” countries are choosing economic “health” over the health of human beings. Are these world leaders demonstrating the success of our civilization? Or are they demonstrating the depths of human folly?
Absolutely all of us want this situation to be over as soon as possible. Yet we need to show, to ourselves and to the world, that something significant has taken place with regard to our personal and collective consciousness. We do not want this to be yet another lost opportunity to rethink how we want to be, in relationship with ourselves, with one another, and with the rest of the natural world. We need to show, to ourselves and to the cosmos, that we have indeed learned something.
If returning to normal means continuing to do what we have always done, then I don’t want to return to normal. Or at least to that form of “normal” that we have institutionalized.
I do not want to return to normal, if normal means that we continue to feel and act like the abusive owners of Earth, altering her, degrading her, destroying her, contaminating her. If normal means that we consider the natural world as merely a resource to be exploited in a productive and efficient manner, with no ethical considerations. If normal means that we decide upon the destiny and life of plants and animals based only on the desire to satisfy our wishes or to pursue unlimited economic growth. If normal means that we reward individualism, materialism, consumerism, wastefulness. If normal means that some concentrate all wealth while others are marginalized and ignored. If normal means selfishness, apathy, and indifference. If normal means turning a blind eye to corruption, and choosing personal well-being over the common good.
This is a great opportunity for us as humankind, to re-create our senses, our aims, our values, and our essence. More than lukewarm processes of greenwashing, more than cosmetic touch-ups or partial and fragmented accommodations, we need a genuine commitment to deep sustainability, taking into account that we are all part of the great universal warp that manifests itself in pluriverses.
It will never be easy to generate a collective sense of a new consciousness as there are very powerful forces that seek to maintain an unjust system that harms life while benefiting the personal short-term interests of a few. Yet the advantage we have now is that many are united beyond distinctions in voicing and feeling that nothing will ever be the same again. Let us make good use of the energy of this new collective consciousness to dream into being and give shape to a universal civilization that lives up to our surname sapiens.
written by Rodrigo Arce Rojas
translated by Rosa Zubizarreta
with permission from the author