New Year 2021: Thank You, Covid-19 (but we really need a Gandhi)…

Years come and go. The dharma stays the same…

Assuming that Joe Biden will eventually win this monster of a 2020 US election, we can only thank one thing: the novel Coronavirus, aka Covid-19. That much is clear. Without it, and DJ Trump’s miserable performance in combatting it, he likely would have won, assuming that everything else remained the same, which is not necessarily the case (but it would have been even closer, if that’s possible)…

Specifically I’m referring to the massive protests and riots that have accompanied the Black Lives Matter movement, which I fully support, despite the massive looting and violence, which I fully detest, to the point of disgust. I reiterate: that might not have happened, were it not for Covid-19 (lockdown stress disorder?), butterfly effects of Covid-19 yet to be documented…

Important to note: the counter-protests of several and various militias were equally, if not more, disgusting (more guns and even vehicles used as weapons), not to mention the brutal police violence that preceded and provoked the events in question in the first place. Still, that ‘law and order’ sh*t sells loads to citizens concerned about random violence from ‘a left-wing mob’…

Bottom line: Bernie Sanders probably would have lost massively, were he the nominee, a sometimes touchy subject between me and some friends, and despite the fact that often his policies are closer to my sympathies than Biden…

But, as I have indicated previously, I think that Covid-19 has the potential for much positive benefit to our lives, despite the massive suffering that it has caused. And I don’t mean only in the ‘Dalai Lamaic’ sense that we can learn much from our enemies, which we certainly can, but in the sense, also, that we are nothing if not an arrogant species, one that needs constant reminding of our position subservient to Nature, for which disease is its primary weapon…

And if that sounds largely metaphorical, let me suggest that without large cities, this pandemic would have gone nowhere fast. Cities have always been a drain on the countryside, luring the young and strong to their well-compensated deaths, a topic well documented through history…

So, if I was once distraught at the prospect that the climate-conflicted Anthropocene Era would send us all to our ignominious and inglorious deaths at the hands of our own inventions, then now I am gratified to know that Nature will likely have the last say on that. Either we will follow its designs and its dictates, or we will pay the consequences…

And for all the suffering and inconvenience of a ‘lockdown,’ however ‘lite,’ that is not only secondary to the loss of life, but in fact can be a useful exercise, a retreat, a readjustment, a re-ordering of our priorities in life. The Buddha himself once said that we should save 25% of our incomes for when that rainy day comes, and he wasn’t kidding. Insurance is for people who can’t save money. This is a lesson many Americans seem to have forgotten since their long-ago childhoods…

Now I know that I get scant resonance when advocating limits to my Western compatriots, as if the freedoms we crave are the freedoms to do whatever we want whenever we want, torpedoes be damned. But the freedom from that very craving, is as much, or even more, important to me. You’re going to die; get used to it. That’s a limit…

Now I detest external controls from regulatory bodies as much as anyone and reserve the right to flee them to the best of my ability, when necessary (simple masks do not rate that privilege), but the limits I define for myself are sublime. That’s what meditation is all about, is it not?

And this virus, and its ensuing lockdown, have been nothing but empowering for me. After all, how often do you get to see Hollywood Boulevard empty, completely devoid of automobiles, for even five minutes on a ‘normal’ day? Not often. That’s what Nature is capable of, when pushed to extremes—of population, climate, and pollution…

Still, we could use a Mahatma Gandhi right about now, and by that, I mean a leader who is at once political and spiritual, and who can influence large numbers of people, so that Nature is not pushed to such extremes. We need someone who can help us be happy without more material gizmos, someone who can articulate a cleaner greener future, that might appeal across party lines…

That is also much of my attraction to Buddhism, the fact that it can be used as a spiritual or social paradigm. In fact, we once had a leader named Martin Luther King, who was able to accomplish great things with the power of speech and leadership. Who’s next?

The fact is that we are an extremely young species, and everything we do is an experiment. And we have succeeded wildly in our creations. Now we must succeed wildly in our adaptations. We are a special species (pun intended) and it would be a shame if we were to fail in the simple need to adapt to our environment, something which far simpler species accomplish with little fanfare or the need for so-called civilization…

We are now at the mercy of our cities and must re-establish a connection with Nature, the sooner the better. And don’t think for a moment that there are ‘more of us out there somewhere,’ so therefore we won’t simply go extinct. That’s rubbish. They are only ‘out there’ somewhere if they came from the same ancestral lineage as us, and that is not likely, given what we know…

Are you still there? What I really want to say is this: the skills needed to combat global warming are exactly the same skills needed to combat Covid-19. Westerners failed miserably, not just North Americans, but Europeans, and South Americans, too. In fact the only peoples to do well are East Asians and Africans, for whatever reason, though I suspect Buddhist culture in the former case, superior genetics in the latter…

We need to do better next time. It may be the last time. Bottom line: we don’t need a return to normal. We need a return to Forever. Note: can we drop the violent protests at some point? Silence is not violence. It scares people, not me, but some others. Happy New Year 2021…