I did not want to write about COVID-19. I had no desire for it. Thousands of words have been spilled already, there is no tea left anymore. But then I got angry.
At first, I was just dancing around it a little bit, emotionally. It was only for a little while after all, right? Don’t forget all the amazing initiatives that were sprouting all around. Funny lock down video’s and teddy bear hunts. Trying to make the best out of this situation and keeping as much people as possible, healthy.
Next it became very clear that this wouldn’t go away within a few weeks. That it was seriously going to affect the summer. People getting more and more upset about it. Festivals down the drain. Travelling down the drain. The whole of 2020 down the drain. Including me.
You know the brightest country in Europe, as seen from space? That’s where I’m currently stuck. No clean air or starry skies for this one. Gradually, this egoistic self-pity has been creeping on me. Getting me even more annoyed. After all, I’m pretty privileged and healthy. Hence shame entered the stage.
Suddenly that pink blanket of happy, encouraging words and initiatives didn’t seem enough anymore. So, to hell with positivism. I’m angry. We should all be angry. It doesn’t serve us to use avoidance or escape tactics. We need all the triggering we can get. Our shadow self has invited us to marinate in a nice big bath of darkness. Will we accept the invitation? After all, I realised, we have been put in time-out. Mother earth has put humanity in the corner. Years and years of increasingly alarming climate change did not do the trick. Neither did the desperate cries of scientists, world summits and climate strikes. Well guess what, the show has been brought directly to our backyard.
And what does a parent want when he puts his child in time-out? That he would paint on the walls or sing songs to make the time bearable? To put his mind off things? That it would applaud himself for being able to stand still? No, the parent wants the child to think how it got there in the first place. Mother earth wants us to contemplate.
And it’s easy to point the finger to Asia. But the truth is, we are all at fault here. We are all part of a broken system. A society of nature exploitation, human exploitation. We are ruled by consumerism and plastic.
50% of the worlds habitable land is used for agriculture. Of those 50%, 70% is used for meat and dairy production. This includes grazing lands and many more lands used for animal feed production. I think it is time to contemplate over that one. There, I said it.
Iceland has been no saint either. Ongoing whaling activities are maybe the most striking example. Yet while we are in time-out, the whales breathe again. Now that harbour activities and marine transportation has reduced, the oceans are quieter. Normally, underwater noise is a big problem for marine mammals. Especially toothed whales, who rely on echolocation.
We see nature breathing deeper everywhere now. The recent drastic reduction in human activity has resulted in less vibrations of the upper earth crust. Even on land it is quieter. Animals dare to wander around walking paths again. Deeply trotted nature paths maybe get the change to renew themselves over the course of the coming months. At some places on earth, the sky is visible again.
This is a reminder that nature can bounce back, that there is more than one outlook. What will we take away from this? This is an opportunity to take a different course, to change our perspective. Or will we continue as before? Will we let our world swing even further to the side of all-consuming capitalism?
What we should learn from this, is that we cannot approach the well-being and health of humanity, animals and the ecosystem, in isolation from each other. We are all part of a big whole, one superorganism.
So, dear Icelanders, please step out of your door today and appreciate your environment. Bless that you were born in this epitome of nature. Maybe even the most beautiful country on earth. Enjoy your clean water, your clean air. The visibility of the stars in the sky. You are stuck in the best place possible.
Text: Ellen Wild