What are we going to do?

March 20, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Posted in Australia, climate change, Destroying nature, Immunisation, Making History, Nature, Religion, Social Responsibility, Ways of Living | 20 Comments
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I have been a regular reader of Apocalyptic & post-apocalyptic novels for many years. And I have always been sure that some sort of world-wide emergency would happen eventually – human nature guaranteed it. Until very recently, we have been destroying our environment with gay abandon and even now that we know our actions are destructive, we don’t stop.

 

Greed and the desire for power have become the dominant motive guiding far too many of our leaders – not just in government, business and every other stratified organisation, but even in our own everyday lives.

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We want more than we have, even though most of us in the First World don’t need more – we are already far more comfortably off than most people in other countries – and we don’t care if we get it at the expense of others. Just look at how workers are paid a pittance in Third World countries to produce the consumables our society thinks important. Look at the response to the COVID-19 pandemic; the panic buying that has been occurring here in Australia, in Great Britain, the United States and other places, as shoppers grab as much as they can, and much more than they need.

 

But now, I believe, Nature is striking back. It is not some god from a fairy tale after-life sending the Four Horses of the Apocalypse. It is the world we have been raping, pillaging and destroying for hundreds of years. It is our lack of moral fibre, our desire for more and more goods, a better lifestyle, higher status, that has driven a natural response from our natural world.

 

The balance of the natural systems that our planet, developed over millions of years, has been overturned.  Just as it became possible for our species to develop, breed and evolve, and come to think we are the masters of the universe, we are finding that we have been changing it drastically. We are creating (have created?) a world that may well become uninhabitable to humanity – and we are taking many other life forms with us.

 

That is why the climate is changing, why there are so many “unprecedented” storms,  heat waves, freezing winters, floods, droughts and other natural events.  We have seen it in the USA, in Europe, in Asia and the sub-continent, as well as at the polar ice caps. We have seen it recently here in Australia – disastrous drought, fire and flood. And now we also have the COVID-19 virus in a pandemic that hasn’t been seen since 1918.

Image result for covid-19 virus picture

COVID-19 is a naturally occurring variation of an animal virus – either bat or pangolin – that has crossed into the human population. It is a virulent and opportunistic virus to which we have as yet no resistance, apart from our own naturally developed immune responses to other viruses. And that means many are at risk, not just the old and those with already compromised immune systems, but even to seemingly healthy young people.

 

Our tendency to want to travel the world is spreading the virus more quickly than if we were in smaller, sedentary groups. Our very numbers mean that contact is hard to avoid. The social distance policy strives to overcome that somewhat, but it depends on whether people co-operate. How devastating this pandemic ends up being depends whether we can pull together, not just for humanity’s sake, but for all of our natural world.

 

Although I read of so many theoretical disastrous endings to most of the human race, and although I expected something like this to come, I didn’t think I would be here when it happened. This may not be the end of the world, but it will be the end of the world we knew. And if we don’t do our best to look after it after the pandemic has passed, then I believe it would have been better if it had been the end of humanity.

Will we go the way of the dinosaurs?

 

(c) Linda Visman 20.03.2020

Pray for us, sinners

May 25, 2015 at 12:00 am | Posted in 1960s, Australia, Health, Immunisation, Polio epidemic | 13 Comments
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monday-memoir-badge

This story tells of a time in 1961 when everything changed for our family.

October 1961

There’s a tiny pebble beneath my knee and I open my eyes a fraction. Reaching down, I brush it away, impatient at the distraction. I must keep my concentration total, or my prayers won’t be effective.

It’s difficult to stay focussed on the Mysteries of the Rosary when I am so worried about Dad. I’m not saying the Joyful Mysteries. They don’t seem right. Neither do the Glorious Mysteries. The Sorrowful Mysteries fit the situation much better. The rosary beads pass through my fingers, one for each Our Father, ten Hail Marys, and the Glory be at the end of each decade of the Rosary. I’ve done The Agony in the Garden. The next decade is The Scourging at the Pillar. But my mind refuses to focus on the sufferings of Jesus.

Rosary beads

Rosary beads

“Please don’t let Dad die. Let him come back home soon.”

My concern for my earthly father constantly interrupts my address to the One in Heaven, and again I have to force myself to concentrate.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

I can hear my older brother, Peter, in the kitchen. My sisters, Pauline and Sheelagh, are probably there too, though I can’t hear them. I’m in the lounge room, in the dark so nobody will see me. I don’t know why I don’t want them to see me, because we all know how important prayer is – and this is an especially important time for prayer.

The carpet is rough on my knees, but I’m used to kneeling on all sorts of floors. I’ve done it for most of my thirteen years, and I can ignore the discomfort. However there’s usually the back of another pew in church,  a desk at school, or my bed to lean against. It’s hard to ignore the ache in my back from having no support for most of the Sorrowful Mysteries. I stretch, then say another Hail Mary, feeling guilty that I can’t keep focussed on Jesus and His Mother. My mind soon wanders again.

Mum’s at the hospital. I don’t know how she got there because there are no buses at night. It’s very hard for her. She always worries so much about everything, even little things. Now we have a really big worry. She’s already had to go to the hospital every day for the last two weeks to see my little brother, David. Now Dad’s in the isolation ward too, in the adults’ part, not the kids’ part. It’s pretty hard for us four as well. We have to wait at home, not knowing what’s happening. What will we do if Dad dies?

That’s what the prayers are for. Surely Jesus and Mary will help us. We’ve always gone to Mass and kept the Holy Days. But what if I’ve done something bad and God won’t listen to my prayers? I haven’t been able to go to Confession, none of us have. Not since we’ve been isolated in the house to stop the germs spreading. Surely Jesus will realise that. We can’t even go to school. I close my eyes tight and hold my breath, sending my prayers up to Heaven.

Polio quarantine sign

“Please listen, God. Even if I’ve been bad, Daddy’s a good man. He loves you and keeps the Commandments and goes to Mass. We don’t have much money even though he works hard. Please, don’t take him away from us. I’ll do anything you want me to.”

Hoping God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Ghost – and Mary too – are all listening, I begin the next decade of the Rosary, The Crowning With Thorns. I think about how that must have hurt Jesus. Then I think about David, and wonder why a three-year-old like him has to suffer.

It was Tuesday two weeks ago, and he was kneeling on the stool at the kitchen sink, playing in the water with his little boats. He wasn’t feeling too good and he fell off. Then he couldn’t stand up. Mum took him straight to the doctor. She had to carry him all the way, about a mile. Even though he’s only three he must have been heavy. The doctor sent him straight to the isolation ward at Wollongong hospital.

It’s Tuesday today as well. Mum said Dad was driving to work in his truck this morning when he felt sick and weak. So he went to the doctor’s surgery instead. By the time the ambulance took him to the hospital, he could hardly walk or even sit up. It sounds like he’s really bad. Oh, why didn’t they have the vaccine like we did? They wouldn’t have got this awful disease. Me and Peter and Pauline and Sheelagh walked from school down to the Council Chambers to get the needles. Salk vaccine it’s called.

We had our needles before people started to get polio around here. But for the last couple of months, polio has been everywhere, all along the Illawarra Coast, and it’s been really scary. They call it an epidemic – that’s when lots of people get it. Some people have even died. Now Dad has it as well as David, and we don’t know what will happen to them, or whether they’ll get better. Mum didn’t have the needles. Gee, I hope she doesn’t catch it too. I begin another decade of the Rosary.

rosary-tattoo

Peter pokes his head through the door and sees me kneeling there.

“What are you doing?” he says.

“Saying the Rosary for Dad. Want to say it with me?”

“Nah,” he says. “I’m hungry. Where’s the tin of jam?”

I sigh and make the sign of the cross, putting my rosary beads away in a little bag. I’m hungry too, though I hadn’t noticed it until that moment. I get to my feet and go into the kitchen.

“I’ll cut the bread,” I say, picking up the knife. “I cut it straighter than you.”

(c) Linda Visman

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