It’s Easter today, which holds out the memory and promise of resurrection. Yes, there is the original story, the powerful assertion of no to death, no to empire, no to religious oppression. This season, if we are awake, there is, as well, another resurrection that remembers a not so distant past: a past in which the air was clear and wildlife was abundant; species were multiplying and not declining; carbon dioxide was not spiking toward an age and an agony that will make COVID-19 a mere John the Baptist before the coming of Jesus.
COVID-19 throws so many stark images on the screen. Hollow and narcissistic leadership (an oxymoron, that) waffles daily between self-adulation and the promise that our consumptive economy is rising soon to save us. The exploding gap between the haves and have-nots jumps off the spreadsheet and into the images of real mass graves, here in these United States, and the sudden mortal certainty for the many who cannot find or pay for healthcare. Even those with means are jarred awake when there is no ventilator for a loved one, triage means choosing who will live and who will be abandoned to death and all other medical care must be put on hold – as unthinkable as the closing of all my favorite restaurants and the cancellation of my trip to Europe – just like that.
In his song Looking East, Jackson Browne asks, “How long have I left my mind to the powers that be? How long will it take to find the higher power moving in me?”
- the reality of two economies, one reflected in the Dow, the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 and the other so much more real for the mass of service workers in America, an economy with all its accoutrements like no health care, no affordable housing and no living wage
- the gross immorality of our military budget that bankrupts our ability to nurture and nourish our population
- the truth that when we drive less, fly less and consume less, the earth heals itself, visibly, tangibly, in not so very much time
Contrary to the powers that be, lined up daily in the White House briefing, the Dow, the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 are not the measures of our health. More accurately they chart the rate of our mad dash to global social and ecological annihilation.
Don’t be fooled. The service economy is just that. It serves at the pleasure and solely for the benefit of the few with the most, those whose wealth is measured in the buckets of Wall Street. If those few could figure out a way to have it all without the nuisance of the masses that make possible their daily comfort and pleasure, rest assured that they would simply exterminate the hordes they already make invisible. It’s been tried before.
We are all complicit, mostly in our complacence. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are not mad folk. They simply shine a light on reality. Will we be shaken awake?
There will, with certainty, be a resurrection. But what will emerge this year, in the coming years, from the tomb of COVID-19? Will it be the phantasmagoric specter of the Dow, ballooning toward imminent global extinction? Or will it be a new economy of a different scale, a scale marked in increments of relationship, compassion and love for all of life?
No one decides but us. There is no hiding from the images presented in this time. We can see the despair. We can also feel the healing of moving more slowly and consuming less. Will we connect both of these images to the choices we make about national budgets, business models and where we invest our wealth? And will we have the grace and courage to shift our daily priorities away from consumption and toward relationship?
There were two special trees in the Garden of Eden. Death was the nature of Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, where fear bore the fruits of greed and the violent abuse of power. Redemption and resurrection are the essence of the Tree of Life, with fruit enough for all and its leaves for the healing of the nations. COVID-19 serves to clarify these two realities. May we choose true resurrection, the Tree of Life.
© Jerry S Kennell, Two Trees in the Garden. Feel free to quote, as useful, with proper reference.