Coronavirus… We have a story about viruses. That story is part of our scientific metaphysical framework, and it tells us that viral outbreaks are chance events; accidental mutations of a familiar virus survive attempts at immunisation and suddenly explode out of control. However, we are learning viruses are more intelligent than this. Is the coronavirus pandemic yet another instance of us, as a global culture, failing to see things holistically?
Two months ago, I was listening to a podcast on modern herbalism and was introduced to Stephen Harrod Buhner, who spoke of his research into bacterial life and viruses. According to Buhner, plants have been living with bacteria and viruses a lot longer than we have, and it’s for this reason that they are so well adapted to living with them. It is no coincidence that chemical compounds they produce can sometimes help us out, too. Herbal antiviral supplements from plants and fungi may well be a part of the future of healthcare, but that is not the solution I propose to stop epidemics here.
Another fascinating idea that arose from Buhner’s research is that viruses are intentional – no, not that they were designed in a laboratory, but that they have intention and purpose of their own. They often go to great lengths to maintain local ecosystem homeodynamics: perhaps, then, they carry out the intention of the Earth herself?
A virus is capable of purposefully making changes to ecological systems; in its simplest form this means population control. But population control isn’t necessarily what is intended by coronavirus.
Viruses are also capable of making changes to the DNA strings of the species they invade, meaning that lifeforms from entirely separate evolutionary paths can share DNA, which is another way to adjust the homeodynamics of Earth. Viruses can change our genetic make-up, but I don’t think that’s the purpose of coronavirus, either.
In a meditative state, I asked myself what the positive intention of coronavirus is. The answer was simple: to help us slow down. And what does slowing down look like? Right now for some it is staying indoors, living off government support or online work, and watching Netflix in the evening. In the long term, there is a richer and more sustainable option that also unlocks a lot of what it means to be human.
We are in a time of unprecedented global change, socially and ecologically. We are learning to exist within a framework of global communication that has never before existed. Our minds are barely able to cope, and yet, we are successfully adapting. This is not a genetic adaptation but a cultural one. We have integrated our new technologies, yet we are not at ease with them; we are not comfortable. We don’t have much time for precious things which make us fully human: children, relationships, gardening, and play to name just a few. Is it possible that the Earth wants us to have all these things, that they are part of our birthright? It seems to me they are all in the spirit of Nature, and slowing down with an intention to reconnect will give us access to them once again.
Coronavirus is killing us. We are losing loved ones. We are isolating, and we are frightened, and our systems are being stretched and tested to their limits. We have had smaller similar scares and we did not slow down. Now, we are listening: loved ones are important, community is important, food security is important. Flying, it turns out, isn’t so important. Neither is working in an office, nor driving long distances, nor having the most up-to-date mobile phone. These are some of the lessons of coronavirus and also they are the solution for preventing future epidemics.
If we learn this lesson – “slow down” – we won’t need to be taught it again. Slow down, stay closer to home, grow food with your own hands (staple foods could well be in short supply later this year). In doing this, we also create epidemic-resistant systems.
There is more to be done to facilitate this. Staying at home and growing food isn’t viable from the indoor spaces and small parcels of land we have accepted as “home”. Many are cramped up with little-to-no access to personal outdoor space. For this solution to be lasting, we need to change our choices of homes.
In Russia, in the late 90s amid financial uncertainty, a movement started of healing the concrete cities, furnishing them with trees, and families moving to their “Dachas” (small-holdings) on government-given land. This movement has a spiritual aspect, but remains entirely pragmatic: in 2005, 53% of Russia’s agricultural output was produced on 3% of its agricultural land by these small-holders. Humans are meant to live in close harmony with biological nature; when we tend to and nurture the physical space around us, it tends to us, and nurtures us, in return.
We have the technology for global communication, we have plenty of material resources already extracted from Earth, and we have adequate sustainable energy for an impending transition to sustainable living. The last missing piece of this puzzle is access to land. To live in a way which is in harmony with nature – preventing all possible epidemics – we must pass laws in all lands to allow every family, group or individual who wishes, to live on a hectare of land, tending it, connecting with it and with their neighbouring community, and staying connected to the global human project with technologies which already exist.
With these natural havens providing food and clean air, there will always be somewhere for people to be, free from highly populated, high-speed city lifestyles.
This is our solution to prevent global epidemics such as coronavirus: access for all to a hectare of land for personal cultivation – a home out of doors to create personalised, diverse ecosystems.