Good God, it Looks Bad

I’m glad I generally ration my news intake: Richard Rohr, a (very liberal) Catholic monk whose daily readings hit my inbox in the morning, says that it’s good to restrict one’s news intake to no more than an hour a day. I think I’m doing quite well on that score; I look at the headlines two or three times a day and maybe check out one or two stories; I get a Guardian on Saturday, and that’s about it. Generally when the news comes on the radio I switch it off – either because it’s too darned depressing or because I can’t stand to hear Johnson or Trump’s voices. As for TV news, I’m nowhere near it, haven’t been for a long while, though I occasionally listen to a slice of PM on Radio 4.

The point of the news is supposedly to keep us informed of what’s going on in the world. But does it? Disregarding political bias, of which there is not a little, there’s an overwhelmingly negative slant to everything that’s reported. Even when you get the odd good news story there’s generally a ‘but’ at the end of it, as if they can’t resist warning you that life isn’t all roses, there’s plenty of guns out there as well.

Right now aside from having some kind of global nuclear war, the news could hardly be worse. We’ve got Covid deaths exceeding one million worldwide (though C19 has a way to go before catching up with the Spanish flu in 1918), we’ve got appalling leaders in countries like Britain, the US, India and Brazil, and behind and above and beyond all of that we’ve got climate change which we’re doing not nearly enough to halt, never mind reverse. When faced with all this, despair seems the only option.

But! as Krishna says to Arjuna in the Gita, strong men know not despair. Let’s imagine he meant women as well – which he probably did, and consider this. I don’t think Krishna was advocating toughness or bravado, nor was he suggesting we bury our heads in the sand. I think he meant that the world, the universe, God – call it what you will – is always so much vaster than we can imagine. My own take on it is that Gaia will take do whatever it takes to heal the earth; rather than us destroying the world, it will destroy us. If we don’t learn our lesson. But I take heart from what happened during the early days of lockdown; the clearness of the skies, the dolphins coming back to Venice, the air pollution practically zero. I’m convinced – and I mean no disrespect at all to those who’ve lost people in this pandemic – that Covid is here to teach us, the human race, a lesson. We must do better – and soon.

Of course our glorious leaders show no sign of getting with the programme – but Johnson and Trump will soon be gone. The earth will continue.

Kirk out

Reports of Their Deaths Have Not, Alas, Been Exaggerated

In the last few days I’ve heard of the deaths of three people. The first one was a friend-of-a-friend, the second was someone I knew slightly in years gone by and the third – the third was someone I knew quite well. It’s getting closer: death, which so far has hovered in the distance, approaching only to take the elderly or the very sick; death, which so far has given warning of its intentions and only struck after a long illness or prolonged old age; death now grows bold and stalks us all, striking without warning. It’s like a wild animal which so far has only terrorised the outskirts of the city but now comes into the suburbs and threatens the very hub. The Pope said yesterday – or it may not have been the Pope, I can’t remember – that only a fool would fail to think about their own mortality in these times. No it wasn’t the Pope – he said something else – it was Richard Rohr, whose daily readings hit my inbox first thing in the morning. I can’t find the quote but he does have a lot to say about coming to terms with death.

The death of someone known affects us all. I hadn’t been close to Sonja at all yet I felt shaken by the news, and I’ve ‘seen’ her several times on my daily walks; the brain lights up with recognition and you think, Ah, there’s Sonja before realising that it definitely isn’t. I’ve had this experience with everyone I’ve known after their death and I still sometimes see my Dad walking down the road.

The Pope said something very wise and in a way surprising; that C19 may be a plague on humanity because of our desecration of the planet. I tend to agree; if it’s a punishment for anything it’s that, though I prefer to think of it as giving the planet a rest from us and giving us a chance to change. Will we change before it’s too late? I hope so but I fear it may take a lot more than one corona virus. Sometimes I just wish we’d all die out…

Still, there’s one good thing: death was until recently the great taboo. Now we’re all talking about it…

Kirk out