This virus is a wake-up call that we can’t afford to sleep through

Dear President Trump,

There’s a beautiful (very long) poem by Kristen Flyntz titled An Imagined Letter From Covid-19 to Humans that I got from a friend at church. I looked it up online and found that it appeared a little over a week ago and has been circulating on various social media sites. I’m including a link where you can hear the poem read (https://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/a-letter-from-the-virus-listen/) and one from Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/bear-in-mind/202003/message-the-virus-or-our-ancestors), which includes the full text along with a short, sort of psycho-babbly intro that I found annoying, and these two sentences that I did not find annoying:

“In short, the virus offers us another chance. The chance to learn how to live by Nature’s rules.”

Even more than a beautiful, poignant poem, it’s actually a terrifically important poem. Flyntz sees the personified, collective virus (“We”) as messengers to humanity, essentially telling us that our state of being is not well, that our state of being is not sustainable. The virus informs us that it is here to make us slow down, that it is here to make us consider what we are doing to the planet and to our connections with each other. The virus tells us that it is doing to us what we’ve been doing to the planet – burning us up with fevers, flooding our lungs, wreaking havoc with our systems (individual and collective).

Even more than a beautiful, poignant, important poem, it’s a very, very hard, very pointed poem. It’s a poem we all need to read at least daily for the rest of our lives, however long or short those lives may be.

It’s a truth-to-power poem that calls on us to step up and take charge of how we live our lives. It’s a reality-check poem that calls on each of us to consider the bald, inescapable truth that we share our planet, that my health is your health and your health is the river’s health and the river’s health is the sky’s health and the sky’s health is my health.

So please read it.

And please take it to heart.

I know I’m not alone in this, but I’ve been thinking about how we’re asking so much of young people as we need them to shelter in place largely to protect older and medically vulnerable people while so many of us can’t wait to get back to trashing the planet per usual once covid-19 recedes into the past. Yes, I know boatloads of young people weren’t willing to interrupt their spring break parties or comply with the CDC’s recommendations, but I dare say that more of them have stepped up to limit the spread of the disease than we older people have seriously curtailed our carbon footprints.

This is why what Kristin Flyntz is saying is so critically important. Through covid-19 we have an amazing opportunity for a hard reset. We have an opportunity for a reckoning with ourselves to finally get that our capitalistic, winner-take-all system is killing us, that our reliance on “growth” is killing us. This crisis is giving us a hard shake, affording us the opportunity to see that we need to take steps to radically change how we operate, that we need to find ways of living together on this one planet of ours without doing harm to it or to one another.

May we be safe from ourselves.
May we be willing to heed this wake-up call.
May we know we are strong enough to make the radical changes we need to make.
May we make peace with the uncertainty that comes with real growth.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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