(Source: Leonardo Boff; translation: Novena)
The coronavirus pandemic forces us all to think: what really counts, life or material things?
The individualism of each man for himself, with his back to the others, or solidarity with each other?
Can we continue to exploit natural goods and resources to live better and better, without giving it a second thought, or can we take care of nature, the vitality of Mother Earth and living well, which is the harmony between all human beings and with the beings of nature?
Has it served any purpose for war-loving countries to accumulate more and more weapons of mass destruction, now that they have fallen to their knees in the face of an invisible virus that proves how ineffective all those apparatuses of death are?
Can we continue with our consumerist lifestyles, accumulating unlimited wealth in the hands of a few at the expense of millions of poor and miserable people?
Does it still make sense for each country to assert its sovereignty, opposing that of the others, when we should have global governance to solve a global problem?
Why have we not yet discovered the only Common Home, Mother Earth, and our duty to care for her so that we can all fit into her, nature included?
These are questions that cannot be avoided. No one has the answer. One thing, however – attributed to Einstein – is true: “the vision of the world that created the crisis cannot be the same as that which takes us out of the crisis”.
We necessarily have to change. The worst thing would be that everything returned to being as it was before, with the same consumerist and speculative logic, perhaps with even more fury.
In that case, yes: for us not having learned anything, the Earth could send us another virus that could perhaps end the unhappy human project.
But we can look at the war that the coronavirus is causing throughout the planet from another angle, this time positive.
The virus makes us discover what our deepest and most authentic human nature is. That human nature is ambiguous, good and bad. Here we will look at the good dimension.
First of all, we are beings in relationship. We are, as I have repeated countless times, a knot of total relationships in all directions. Therefore, no one is an island. We build bridges to all sides.
Second, as a consequence, we all depend on each other. The African understanding Ubuntu expresses it well: “I am me through you”.
Therefore, all individualism, soul of the culture of capital, is false and anti-human. The coronavirus shows it. The health of one depends on the health of the other.
This consciously assumed mutual dependence is called solidarity. In other times, solidarity made us leave the world of anthropoids and allowed us to be human, living together and helping each other.
In these weeks we have seen touching gestures of true solidarity: people not only giving what is left over but sharing what they have.
Third, we are essentially caring beings. Without care, from our conception and throughout life, no one could survive.
We have to take care of everything: of ourselves, otherwise we can get sick and die; of others, who can save me or who I can save; of nature, for if not, it turns against us with harmful viruses, with disastrous droughts, with devastating floods, with extreme weather events; to take care of Mother Earth, so that she continues to give us everything we need to live and so that she still wants us on her soil, since for centuries we have attacked her without mercy.
Especially now, under the attack of the coronavirus, we must all take care of ourselves, take care of the most vulnerable, seclude ourselves at home, maintain social distance and take care of the health infrastructure without which we will witness a humanitarian catastrophe of biblical proportions.
Fourth, we are discovering that we must all be co-responsible, that is, be aware of the beneficial or maleficent consequences of our actions.
Life and death are in our hands: human lives; social, economic and cultural life.
The responsibility of the State or of some is not enough; responsibility must belong to everyone, because we are all affected and we can all affect others. We must all accept confinement.
Finally, we are beings with spirituality. We are discovering the strength of the spiritual world that constitutes the Deep, where great dreams are made, the ultimate questions are asked about the meaning of our life and where we feel that there must be a loving and powerful Energy that permeates everything, sustains the starry sky and our own life, over which we do not have full control.
We can open ourselves to this Energy, welcome Her; as in a bet, trust that She is holding us in the palm of Her hand and that, despite all the contradictions, it guarantees a good ending for the entire universe, for our wise and insane history. and for each one of us.
By cultivating this spiritual world we feel stronger, more caring, more loving; in short, more human.
On these values we have been given a licence to dream and build another type of world, bio-centered, in which the economy, with another rationality, supports a globally integrated society, strengthened more by affective alliances than by legal pacts.
It will be the society of care, gentleness and the joy of living.
Spiritual tips for quarantine
Since quarantine is a forced withdrawal, do as the men and women religious do who must make a withdrawal every year.
Some suggestions for the spiritual dimension of life:
- Take time for yourself and review your life.
- How has my life been so far?
- Whose side am I on? On the side of those who are well in life, or on that of those who have some need, those who need a word of comfort, who are poor and who suffer?
- What is my fundamental choice in life? To be happy by all means? To accumulate material things? To get social status? Or to be good, understanding, willing to help and to support those who are in a worse situation?
- Can I tolerate the limits of others, the boring; can I control myself and not respond to the nonsense I hear? Can I let it go?
- Can I really forgive, turn the page and not be held hostage to resentments and bad judgments?
- Can I find the right words when I have to tell some home truths and draw attention to the errors or mistakes of others in relationship with me? Or do my words hit too close to home, aggressively, humiliating the person?
- When I get up in the morning, do I say a prayer with my thinking – not necessarily with words – asking God to protect me, my family and those with whom I live and work? And at night, before going to sleep, do I raise my mind to God, even without words, in gratitude for the day, for everything that has happened and for being alive?
- What place does God occupy in your life? Do you want to try a few minutes of pure meditation, where only you and God are present, forgetting the world a little? Just raise your mind and be silent before Him. I have written a little book: Meditation of light: the path of simplicity, a method that unites East and West, letting a ray of light from on High penetrate your whole body your energy points (chakras) and transfigure your life. A few minutes are enough.
- Do you have the courage to foster an attitude of total dedication to God, knowing that you are always in the palm of His hand? Everything that happens comes from His love. Death is like a birth and no one has seen their own birth. In death, without realising it, we will fall into the arms of God the Father and Mother of infinite goodness and mercy. Never forget the comforting words of the First Epistle of Saint John (3,20): “If your heart accuses you, you must know that God is greater than your heart.” So depart in peace under the cloak of infinite divine mercy.
(Source: El Diario; translation: Novena)
More on Novena from liberation theologian Leonardo Boff:
Theologian warns on coronavirus: “This pandemic demands a different relationship with nature and the Earth”
Cardinal, theologian blame coronavirus on “rich countries’ aimless experiments”, “retaliation of Gaia”
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