We see you now

Artist and writer Alinah Azadeh invites you to our Sussex coastline in the year 2053. Listen to a future myth rooted in migrant heritage and our shifting relationship to sea, land, borders – and time. If you can, and are in reach of the coast or water’s edge, take it with you on headphones, with something to write on afterwards, if so moved.

Message in a Virus

By Dinah Morgan

It is in the middle of uncertainty that anything can happen. Already the Covid 19 Virus has seen unprecedented changes and behaviours occur.

The Dalai Llama has advised us to focus on compassion and empathy and make actions of generosity. He mentions the mantra ‘Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha” to evoke Tara, the feminine aspect of compassion in this time when global support is needed like never before.

Yet there is little sign of a global response to this pandemic, particularly here in Britain. Of course we have a Prime Minister who is ill and a recess of parliament. But one would think that these exceptional times would call for full attendance of everyone in power to make progress in this emergency.

Now we see the need for a government of national unity. But this is not possible without some form of coalition and our ‘first past the post’ model of power does not lend itself to this. The ‘first past the post’ system and our adversarial politics leave us with no safety net. There is a national and global crisis, but there is no way of achieving a participatory government to make either a national or global response. In a system of proportional representation, with a coalition in government, a National Government would be a matter of course. Now the scales fall from our eyes as to the nature of our ‘democracy’. But this can raise awareness of the need for change. And when things go back to ’Normal’ we must implement changes to these essential mechanisms. The new ‘Normal’ has to take into account the fact that the virus as well as Climate Change do not respect borders -whether they are open or closed.

The government appears redundant. While it twists itself in knots over guidelines, volunteers all round the country are working unpaid, doing what the government does not do. Volunteers have formed local support groups to shop and provide food for the vulnerable; they form teams to deliver food for food banks, they walk miles to raise money for hospitals; they make masks and protective wear for medical staff because not only has it not been delivered but has not even been ordered. Firms making testing kits and PPE in the UK are dispatching them world wide, but the NHS had not ordered any. Why not? We are disrespecting not just our volunteers but our medical professionals when we need them most. And the lowest paid and the volunteers will pay for this crisis in the end, through their taxes.

Priti Patel said that she was sorry people felt that supplies had not reached them. ‘Feeling’ had nothing to do with it-the supplies had not arrived. the government had not done its job. Its job is being done by the lowest paid and unpaid volunteers who are putting their lives at risk without appropriate protection.

The lack of a plan for the Crisis in Care at the time of the budget given by billionaire Rishi Sunak is an important failing. After a long wait nothing addressed the terrible mess of care for the elderly. At present many care homes are privately run. Many of them have no PPE and cannot easily be reached because there is no standardised format for overseeing them .They are always short staffed, very expensive for families,-around £900.00 per week-often have poor standards of ‘care’, providing just medication, feeding and toileting. Frequently companies make a lot of money at the expense of the most helpless and vulnerable.

If care homes were nationalised, as part of the NHS, the deaths would be reported as part of the national figure. Seeing the truth of the calamity, perhaps the right action would be taken sooner. It would also make sense with the NHS paying a fortune for medicines, to have a national pharmacy that would create thousands of skilled jobs, keeping the drug money ‘in house’.

We clearly need sustainable people centred systems to maintain the social contract between people and government. Otherwise, politics remain purely a way for interests to realise their own ambitions. This has nothing to do with the ‘common good’.

Nevertheless, there may be a national or global outcry at governments funding and bailing out the corporations who have made themselves rich by destroying the world. France has refused to bail out non tax paying businesses in tax havens. However, here in the UK, the government is anxious to bail out these same concerns with tax payers money, so they will keep polluting and be paid by us to do it. The link between bad air quality from fossil fuel pollution and deaths from the virus are a mirror of each other. Strangely, grounding transport to keep people safe from the virus has worked by removing one of the chief threats to respiration-poisonous air. 4.6 million people die every year due to related illnesses.

A mature oak tree produces around 240,000 litres of oxygen. The life support Boris Johnson blessed the NHS for, when it was pumped into his lungs.

Yet with non essential construction work -HS2 -being given the go ahead, not only are thousands of these life giving trees being destroyed, entire communities are also being put at risk. The collaborative building teams, transportation, families and ultimately doctors and nurses treating them are all in danger of infection. All this to speed avenues for airport development, which in turn will poison the air which in turn will make people susceptible to viruses. . . . .

This is our normality-business as usual.

‘Business as usual’ is a psychopathic, illogical growth model. It is like an enormous beanstalk that sucks up the entire world and then crashes and dies leaving nothing left. It is not sustainable. It is not in harmony with natural systems. It is anti-nature and therefore anti-human. Perhaps this accounts for why people are being used and disrespected. If business is not regenerative it should have no future and not be supported. We need Regenerative Business only -not Business as Usual.Underwriting sustainable companies and helping green companies with their start up costs should be priorities in any loosening of monetary policy.The structure of the economy also needs to be re-orientated from exclusive to inclusive, so that wealth is shared across the spectrum of society.

In the light of the coming economic chaos, a Universal wage now seems quite a sensible idea to try out. Especially in view of all the unpaid workers rallying to fight Covid 19 while the government vacillates over missed emails and test numbers.

It was heartening to hear an entrant for this years cancelled Olympics say he had decided to come out of this crisis physically, spiritually and emotionally fitter than when he entered it. One of the main sources of spiritual and emotional strength is a sense of connection with nature, the seasons and the renewal of the circle of life. This and the blessings of love and friendship are what are holding people together at this time.

Buddhists teach that we are here at this particular moment in time because of the process of cause and effect, known as karma. Being born in turbulent times, we have the opportunity to turn our karma into ‘mission’. This mission is to create wisdom, compassion , courage and fortitude and transform this challenging world we live in. This teaching says we are here now because we are needed to make our contribution.

The challenge is made more difficult by dint of psychopaths often being in charge. This has serious consequences for mental health in ordinary, kindly altruistic people. The problem lies in the disconnect between normal people respecting and co-operating with each other and nature, but ruled by those who tell them to destroy each other and nature . And told that we are not connected to our mother-Earth- as our children are connected to us.

We act as though we are not at all dependent on her bounty, but are somehow autonomous and capable of providing the sun and moon , the seasons and the tides. This is a grand delusion. Our actions show that we are mad- actually killing our mother without even a motive. Perhaps there are psychological reasons why mostly white males with an early boarding school background and huge sense of entitlement want to kill their mother. However, the truth is that we are all connected in every way that can be imagined . This is clear when one meditates on any single object , its aspects, origin and purpose.

When we stop being deluded we see reality: Our ‘mother’ is chronically ill with the virus-she has a dangerously high temperature and is suffocating – she cannot breathe. And because of the Covid 19 many of us know exactly how that feels. In microcosm, the virus communicates what is happening to Mother Earth: her lungs have been butchered with deforestation and toxic emissions, and the seas swamped with toxics. The symptoms are the same. She is coughing and sweating and may die. She is asking for medicine.

The wonder of it is we have the medicine! We know how to make her better!

In the past few weeks the fatal levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air above major cities have dropped by 50 per cent, with resulting benefits to nature and humans alike. Bleached coral reefs in Thailand are regrowing as the relentless crowds of tourists stop polluting seas with motor boats. Just leaving nature alone seems to be enough to encourage her to heal.

And we must make her better because if we don’t, the next stage is not the acute short term pandemic. It is the chronic ongoing condition of climate change. This will not have an end and will affect Mother Earth and all her children for ever and be irreversible. Unlike Corona virus.

Our Mother is giving us a chance to learn an important lesson the hard way before we damn ourselves. We do have an incredibly lucky opportunity to learn from this and avert disaster.

So, let’s get our mother better!! But how?

Let’s get better economies; better business; better transport; better food and supply chains; better democracy; better health care; better agriculture; and let’s get better together! Globally and locally!!

Mother earth is also modelling how to realise the cure. The virus apparently ’jumped’ from animals to humans. It mutated for its survival. Now we have to do the same. We have to make a ‘jump”too. Business as usual is not going to cut it in a world depression based on an economy of unsustainable and dangerous growth.

We have to not just jump but leap for life! we have to leap up an evolutionary step from humans to ‘humanes’. Where we put our sense of community, courage, compassion and wisdom before the animality of the marketplace. Incredibly, by choosing to make this move, we will have actually passed the evolutionary test even before we have achieved it. We would have become ‘humane ‘beings by making the humane choice.

What else is there? Will we really listen to the psychopaths and continue despoiling our mother even when it kills our families, communities and the very land that supports us?

All the selfless heroism that is being displayed through the need to save lives from the virus show what we are capable of. Why should we listen to them? We pay the taxes!

In lockdown it’s hard to think what to do to carry this forward. Planting vegetables, being kind and helpful, making generous actions, focussing on compassion, emptiness and gratitude are some of the ways. I will practise contentment and witness the overflowing of human kindness, sweetness, creativity and courage in us ordinary people, and of other lands that offer us sympathy and support. Valueing the earth right here and teaching myself that less is more are practical things I can do right now to care for our wonderful planet. After lockdown the lessons learnt about the ingenuity and capabilities of communities right across the world need to be reflected on and developed.

Let’s get better together. Earthlings Unite!!!