From the department of JPIC-ED of Maghreb, we have received this paper written by Brother Patrick Leboulenger on a reflection at the crossroad of the Season of Creation, the Pandemic of Covid-19 and the Mystery of Easter. The original is in the French language. This translation, without pretention, is offered by mafrome.org
We are almighty...
Arabia builds a 1000m high tower. The ship “Symphony of the seas” carries 8880 people. The Antonov An-225, nicknamed Mriya, is an aircraft, which loaded can weigh 600 tons and carry 50 cars. Compared to this, the Tower of Babel is nothing.
But for some time now voices are being heard. They remind us that we live on a small planet, that resources are limited, that we are wasting too much, that the climate is getting warmer and warmer, that we are mortgaging the living conditions of the next generation. But we are so sure of ourselves and of our control over nature. If drinking water is decreasing, no big deal, we install purifiers. Finally, whatever happens, we will always find solutions. That’s why we have scientists.
Yet, a few years ago, there was a first epidemic, “AIDS”, which could not be curbed, with a mortality rate close to 100%. Although it forced humans to change certain behaviours, humanity quickly learned to live with it. And we gradually resumed our race for power and our usual ways of slaughtering and exploiting each other, not without a little humanitarianism so as not to look too much like animals. However, scientists and doctors had warned us. We are not ready to put up with an epidemic. We should stop this frantic race, change our conception of nature and the planet and re-think our economic models. But they were shouting in the desert because nobody was prepared to hear them.
Nothing will be changed to protect the global economy. That is, for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer. And since it is the rich who decide, the system is fine as it is. People continued to organise seminars and retreats for a few days with participants from all over the world. The most amusing are these large gatherings to think about ways to fight global warming while they themselves are sources of global warming through the displacement they cause. All these gatherings are absolutely necessary, they cannot be questioned. Video-conferences are not practical. Raw materiaI coming from Africa is transported to China for the production of devices that will be bought in Europe and then resold in Africa. This is globalisation, the big word of the last few decades. Challenging this globalisation classifies you as marginal or utopian.
And here we are against the wall, with a small virus (it is not even a living being) that is disrupting our “power”. The doctors are overwhelmed. We don’t really have any medicine and no vaccine. The most vulnerable among us end up dying. The virus crosses borders and everyone becomes infected, from the tramp in the street to the head of state, a Chinese, an Iranian, an Italian…. Here we are as our ancestors victims of the plagues in the Middle Ages. The words “quarantine”, “isolation” are back, cities and states are closing their borders. The police and the army control the roads. We start praying for healing. Just as a thousand years ago we are searching for the cause of this disease, we are looking for the propagators of evil. We wonder about the origin of the plague: natural, human, curse from heaven? We take out the masks to protect ourselves. In the Middle Ages, masks with a long nose were used to prevent the miasmas from reaching the doctors. It is not a question of finding this useless or ridiculous. On the contrary, they are our only tools that allow us to limit the progression of the disease. We have not changed since the Middle Ages. This brings us face to face with our fragility. Perhaps the difference is that people in the Middle Ages knew they were vulnerable to nature. We thought we were mastering nature.
In just a few months, we were forced to stop the competition. What men never wanted to do, a virus did it: all the travelling, all the important and fundamental meetings for the life of the Church and of humanity were gone. The trade fairs that are absolutely necessary for the economy were cancelled. Distance working, video conferences have now become the standart. States are rethinking globalisation by considering more proximity between producers and consumers. Local trade is becoming possible. The diminution of travelling in favour of teleconferencing is becoming economically profitable. We thought that human relations could all happen through Internet. Confinement showed us that we still need contact between people made of flesh and bone. The Italians showed us a very good example of this by gathering at the window of their flats every evening. We have to expect serious consequences for the world economy. Both the nations and the economically vulnerable people will be severely and long-lastingly affected. It used to be impossible to do without air transport, a major source of pollution. The bankruptcies of several companies will force us to do so.
A long time ago someone spoke of us as hard-headed people (Ex 32:9 Dt 9:6 9:13). Perhaps we will finally hear the call to change. And if we were to dream just a little, we could imagine a humanity where there is more sharing, more solidarity, more mutual help. Let us imagine that nations start working together to fight against the virus and other similar scourges like malaria. Let us imagine that we would give up all this wastage in order to preserve nature for our own health and for future generations. Let’s imagine that we decided to live in relationships with our real neighbours and not with virtual friends on Websat. In a word, let us imagine that we start living the Gospel. Then we could begin to say to ourselves that the evil that affects us has not made us suffer and that the dead did not die in vain.
Often for Lent, we commit ourselves to small efforts that are more or less within our reach, some small changes in our daily life. This year, our Lent was a little more radical. The events imposed constraints on us. The expectation of the Resurrection and of new life at Easter took on a very real meaning for many people. We are told that a Christian cannot live alone, now he is locked up alone, sometimes anguished by the presence of this virus, and fragile before his God. He cannot avoid anymore this face-to-face encounter with himself and with God. Some people enjoyed a family or a community. But promiscuity in a flat, the little idiosyncrasies of a confrere or a sister, the cries of the children work their wear and tear with the passage of time. It is in spite of and with all this that we were invited to look towards Easter, the passage to freedom which for many Christians may not necessarily have occured on April 11th this year. The liberation brought about by the resurrection and conversion imposed on us were very concrete this year. Everyone’s faith is stripped bare of its certainties. It is no longer ” Do you believe in the resurrected Jesus as an impersonal community? But rather “Do you personally believe in the Risen Jesus? ” And If you do, then draw the consequences.