Mother Earth to Humanity: I Can't Breathe

March 30, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic is a time machine to our future. Not my words, but those of Anne Marie Slaughter, a thinker I respect. She's right, I hope. 

As I write, the world has never felt smaller; more interdependent. The millions of first responders -- nurses, doctors, grocery store stockers, as well as political and business leaders -- need our urgent support. But those of us who are asked to have their backs by staying home and social distancing also have essential work to do. 

While our calendars have been cleared, now is the time to listen to the Message our living planet is sending us. The Earth is just as alive as we are. The oceans, trees, air and creatures on every continent are all fighting for survival. They have been sending us increasingly urgent signals for decades, which we've ignored.  Melting icebergs, disappearing species, the shrinking ozone layer, a continent on fire. 

Human beings, not a virus, are the most dangerous, unchecked threat to all life.  How symbolic that what finally brought normal human activity to a screeching halt was a crisis that attacks our life-giving breath. Regardless of whether you think of the mysterious and sacred life force that sustains us as God or Mother Earth, the urgent message is the same: I CAN'T BREATHE!  

My prayer is that we listen and learn.

As a Baby Boomer, I came of age at the height of the Civil Rights movement and the Second Wave Women's Movement. I was full of urgency to help lead the fight to a new world that tapped the full potential of all human beings. I fully believed I would live to witness a world where the human family would collaborate in ways that would lift us all to a better place. 

Now, as I enter the seventh decade of my life, watching humanity roaring toward a cliff I never imagined, I am stunned at where theses decades have taken us. Once again I am filled with urgency. But it is no longer the urgency of youth.  The fire in my belly is now fueled by the clear understanding that my days and years are numbered. The world as we knew it has gone silent -- forcing us to suddenly change in ways we imagined impossible just weeks ago.  

We will emerge from this crisis. But we cannot return to the normal that was killing us all.  "Are you part of the solution or part of the problem?" my mother frequently asked all of her seven children.  I have no answers, only more questions about what I am supposed to learn from this scary but sacred time. Planet Earth is alive and fighting for her life. I am listening and hope you are too. 

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