Mother Earth is sick.
Mother Earth has been sick for a long time.
Mother Earth is suffering from a wheezing cough because she cannot breathe.
Mother Earth has a temperature; she is heating up with fever.
This fever, this disease, is not her fault. It was given to her by us.
That is why she is sad.
She has been sad for a long time.
Confined to herself in seeming isolation, unable to reach out and talk to the people who have made her so ill.
Because the people would not listen.
The people would not even listen to their own scientists and wise men.
Oh, many scientists and wise men have warned us, the children of Mother Earth.
The poets, too. The poets have beseeched us not to treat our Mother with such callousness.
The poets warned of the dire consequences we would face if we did not heed the warnings.
This is no upwardly mobile freeway, the poets and the singers said. This is the road to hell.
We’re on a road to nowhere, the poets say.
And still the people refused to pay attention to the messages.
“I’m walking through the cities of the plague,” Bob Dylan sang. “Ain’t talking, just walkin’.”
So, eventually, Mother Earth stopped trying to speak through the scientists and the singers.
It was her own children who had made her sick. So Mother Earth turned our children against us, so that we could learn what it felt like to be attacked by one’s own children.
“How dare you?” the children asked their parents. “How dare you?” the children asked the leaders of the world.
But the parents and the leaders of the world just carried on with their destructive ways. They burned down the forests of the Amazon. They filled the bellies of ocean creatures with plastic. They forced farm animals to breed in close proximity, dosing them with antibiotics when they got sick. They murdered the gigantic whales of the deep and they destroyed the habitats of the ice bears and the big apes.
They did that. We did that.
All of us who did not speak up against these crimes were, in effect, guilty. We were guilty because we loved our comforts and our money and our cell phones more than we loved the earth.
Yet mankind did not listen to their children, either.
That was the moment – the earth-shattering moment, pun intended – when Mother Earth had finally had enough, and lost her temper.
First, she burned up Australia.
Then she rained hurricanes all over America.
She sent earthquakes, mudslides, droughts and floods.
Still mankind carried on doing what they had always done.
She pelted us with asteroids causing them to narrowly miss us. She thought that the danger of asteroids would wake us up and make us realise how vulnerable we were, how exposed to the random fluctuations of the universe.
Protected by this layer of atmosphere, a layer as thin as a potato peel, we felt sheltered from the realities of outer space, protected and secure in our arrogance and digital self-absorption.
Until the virus came.
A virus which just happens to exactly replicate the very symptoms Mother Earth is suffering from right now: fever, shortness of breath, fatigue and pain.
It took such a drastic step to make men look up from their phones and say, “What’s this?”
It took just one tiny little monster creature, the shape of a spiky soccer ball, to cause mankind to come to their collective sense.
“The world is waking up,” a 16-year-old child told us less than a year ago. “The world is waking up,” she told the leaders of the world, “and change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
The world is waking up indeed.
It is not a pleasant awakening.
It is a wakening that is accompanied by the worst hangover the human race has ever experienced; a hangover caused by centuries of excess, pointless warfare and strife, selfishness and greed.
But at least it is an awakening. And it’s happening now.
Not a moment too soon.
Thank you, Mother Earth, thank you for your tough love parenting.
Thank you for sending us to our rooms to think about what we’d done.
Perhaps, just perhaps, this is the turning point which this planet, this corner of creation, this tiny little sphere of light in a vast and dark universe, has been waiting for.
Perhaps this is, as a poet once said, “the mother-and-child-reunion”, the reckoning, the reconciliation and, eventually, the healing of our world. DM
Billboards are banned in Hawaii (and three other US states).