Message from Mom?
After the storm.
Again, we are humbled. Trees down. Wires down. All our brilliant electronic devices — they think, they talk, they do math — are rendered mute and dumb. Nature once again reminds the clever humans who are her most ambitious and unruly offspring that they don’t exactly run the whole show — not yet.
There is also the pandemic, the disease COVID-19 produced by the novel coronavirus, sweeping across the globe, bringing economies, nations, continents to a standstill. It makes people sick and takes lives. We live masked, huddle at home, in fear.
It is tempting in such times to ascribe some intent to what seem slap-downs by Mother Nature. Seems like she’s trying to put piddling arrogant humanity in its place, remind these upstarts with their cars and computers and rocket ships just who has been around for eons, who was here long before — and after — the mighty dinosaurs.
Are eons countable? Not really. Not by humans with our short times to breath, think, grow and die.
But in all likelihood the slap-down scenario is an over-reading of reality, lending a little too much human personality and motivation to forces which do not, like most of the rest of us, predictably act like three-year-olds. Personification is fun, and it can be helpful for framing things, but don’t put too much faith in it. Might as well be Roman augurs, reading the future from the flights of birds.
No, Mother Nature is not sending us some coded message written in downed wires and mounting virus cases.
Mom is just being her old unruly self, brewing up savage storms and breeding hideous viruses while also casually providing us with warm summer weather and lovely starlight nights, green growing trees and blossoming gardens, sunlight and water and food to eat — little reminders that the hand that slaps also caresses. She who laughs also feeds us.
We might want to remember all this. Let Nature’s awesome powers and, ultimately, nurturing role inform our long term discussions and decisions on issues like pollution, environmental degradation and, yes, climate change.
We would be wise to treat Mother Nature with great respect, whether she is scolding us or just flailing around because she can.
And in the short run, we’ll keep working on a vaccine for that nasty virus. And we’ll get out the chain saws.