I attended a New Age presentation in my early days in Cleveland, given by a man I greatly respected as a metaphysicist, or as a friend would say, a practitioner of mystical fu-fu. The presenter, whose unlikely name was Buz, said that we had indeed entered the Age of Aquarius, but we were at the very beginning, with many centuries yet to go. In general terms, this Age would be one of light and enlightenment, coupled with extraordinary technological advances.
At that point, the U.S. was somewhere in the middle of Bush I’s presidency, and the country was out of sorts. It was the time of the first war in Iraq, and many people were uneasy about the prospect of what seemed like another Vietnam. There were no big crises, but neither was the mood particularly positive. Buz likened the world situation to that of a small, dark room in which a candle is lit. The candle provides light, but outside its circle, the rest of the room appears that much darker. The onset of the Age of Aquarius is that candle, he said. At that time, it was a tiny light, and the fact that it shone made the shadows deeper in places it did not touch. Buz said that it would take generations of lights before the world was actually bright, but the existence of the candle means that there is hope.
My beliefs have never extended to faith in a Divine Providence as such, meaning that I don’t think there is an overarching Grand Plan for a specific outcome. I believe that humans, collectively, will decide the fate of our society. That being said, however, I’m absolutely certain that Mother Nature bats last. We are not greater than the planet we inhabit, although we continually, willfully, wreak havoc on Earth’s other creatures and their ecosystems.
I’ve repeatedly read that our wanton plundering of our home will inevitably lead to a sixth extinction, and some opinions say that perhaps the cataclysm is already underway. We’ve only witnessed the initial effects of climate change; many scientists (see IPCC papers) think that, even with extreme mitigation measures, we won’t escape large-scale devastation going forward. Considering that such measures are still by no means the norm among the world’s nations, we face dire consequences.
The pandemic we’re enduring is only increasing the darkness. Its full effects – economic, environmental, societal – may not be known for years, but certainly, we’re suffering greatly now, and if there is a resurgence of the disease later in the year, misery will be magnified. Conditions are black indeed.
My question is, what if COVID-19 is Mother Nature’s way of balancing the scales? It’s calling a halt, albeit temporarily, to some of the pollution we inflict, along with some of the other abuses. It’s making us re-examine and ask what has meaning for us, what is essential? Can we take what we’re learning in this moment and build on it, to make necessary changes? Do we have the political and moral will to insist and to follow through? Is 2020 another candle in the midnight room, courtesy of Mother Earth? If it’s always darkest before the dawn, maybe we’re looking at utter blackness this year, and dawn is on its way. It’s up to us.