Ramblings on a Word – Anathema


Image by Shelly Paul

Anathema – much despised, accursed

Today, I read a news headline about how the world has been brought to a standstill by COVID-19. This type of news headline is not uncommon in times of great calamities, where planet Earth and human beings are used interchangeably, as if these words are synonymous, as if we are the world.

I find myself using these terms interchangeably and bite my tongue as I realize my ignorance stemming from the arrogance of being human, because as grand is the human ego, we are not the world. We are just one species on this magnificently intricate planet and as such we belong to the Earth. The Earth does not belong to us.

Therefore, the world has not come to a standstill because of the novel strain of the Coronavirus, humanity has come to a standstill which is actually a good thing for Mother Earth and our sibling creatures on this planet.

Mother Nature can find some respite and breathe fresh air as the skies are mostly clear from the roaring jet engines that spew toxic fumes, as the road traffic has been reduced to a fraction. With production and manufacturing almost stopped, the earth is not being exploited mercilessly for natural resources and the felling of the forests would’ve reduced a little bit.

For these reasons, we not the world. In fact because of our excessive and over indulgent lifestyle, we have become anathema to this planet, like weeds that overrun vegetation, like the very locusts that swarm our fields – which by the way, are created by destroying rich eco-system.

Everything we consume, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the homes we build, the places we live to build these houses are all achieved by destroying Mother Nature. Right from the time, we, the Homo sapiens, climbed down from the trees and left the wilderness to settle down in villages, we broke the laws of nature and started exploiting nature to suit our needs.

As time rolled by, these needs became wants, desires, indulgences, selfishness, pettiness and greed. The more we wanted, the more thoughtless we became in our wanton destruction. Industrialization, aided by science and technology accelerated this path of mindless destruction.

We built sprawling cities that shimmer in the night lights like some ethereal creature decked in jewelry, ready to party. We went to the moon to prove that the sky was not the limit. We built rockets and mini-towns in space that orbit the blue planet, sending us so much data that has contributed to an easy life-style for a large population. We use smart phones and sophisticated technology. We are cloning creatures and editing our genes like it was a complicated novel manuscript.

We have conquered the highest mountains by climbing on top of it, swam great oceans to show the human might. We built corporate empires and financial empires and actual empires. We built egos the size of Jupiter and isolated ourselves in this bubble of arrogance and myopia, when a tiny micro-organism, invisible to the naked human eye has upended our way of life. An organism so tiny that 800 of them could fit into the width of a single human hair1, has us in lockdown and has forced us into social distancing, imprisoning us within our lifestyle.

In this time, for those of us who are safely isolated, either because we are not sick or we don’t have to be on the front-lines of this battle risking infection to save others, I hope, we deflate our balloons of arrogance with humility and become more reflective in pondering how we got to where we are. I wish we would ask ourselves that how did we, the most intelligent of Mother Earth’s children lose our way to become an anathema to this very planet that gave us our existence?

1800 of them could fit into the width of a single human hair. This reference was from this news story on NPR: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/03/25/820998549/the-coronavirus-is-mutating-but-that-may-not-be-a-problem-for-humans

Note: The idea that human beings are an anathema to planet Earth, came to me when I was watching one of David Attenborough’s documentary. I can’t remember the series or the episode, but in one of them, there was a segment about Chernobyl, where it is still a radioactive wasteland for human habitation, but Mother Nature is back and thriving with wildlife. When I saw that I realized that we are at a point where for Mother Nature to thrive, we have to go away, because we have become that destructive. That’s when I realized that we have become an anathema to this planet that gave us life.

Below is a link to one of George Carlin’s talk show. In this segment he talks about the heights of human conceit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjmtSkl53h4