A recent edition of Toronto’s Globe and Mail featured an article with a bold, yet fundamentally obvious point of view: curing COVID will take more than a vaccine; it demands a new relationship with the Earth.
The article is by James Maskalyk, an emergency physician, associate professor in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine and author of the forthcoming book Doctor: Heal Thyself, and Dave Courchene, founder of the Turtle Lodge International Centre for Indigenous Education and Wellness and chair of its National Knowledge Keepers’ Council.
COVID-19, they remind, is a “zoonosis,” a disease borne from animals to humans. Its presence in humans, and its virulence, is a result of the carelessness with which humanity has been treating the global ecosystem. “If humanity is to endure, the coming months must hold healing, not just of populations across the globe from the coronavirus, but of the Earth herself,” write Maskalyk and Courchene.
They describe COVID as “a symptom of an exhausted planet.” Humans are shrinking the habitats of wild creatures, while many animals are seen as mere commodities, valued as trophies or because some part of their anatomy is believed to cure disease or increase sexual prowess. Nature’s worth is measured by what an animal, plant, or body of water produces—wood or coal, genetically modified crops or factory-raised animals. Even if everyone on the planet was vaccinated against coronavirus, these problems would not end.
Indigenous wisdom, argue the authors, can help us come into better relationship with the Earth. At a gathering in a sacred Anishinaabe Turtle Lodge in Manitoba, indigenous wisdom keepers agreed that the human dissociation from the Earth is like a rupture in the body’s immune system, resulting in addiction, susceptibility to sickness, and mental breakdowns.
“We are of the Earth,” the authors conclude, “and have everything we need to heal. The cure for COVID-19 is here. It is us.
We can bring our own medicine to the Earth by engaging regularly in the RadJoy Practice and finding and making beauty in places that are hurt or ignored.
The article, “The real cure for COVID is renewing our fractured relationship with the planet,” is online, but you have to be a subscriber to the Globe and Mail to read it.

Trebbe Johnson
Trebbe JohnsonFounder
Trebbe is the author of The World Is a Waiting Lover and 101 Ways to Make Guerrilla Beauty. Her new book, Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty, will be published in Fall 2018 by North Atlantic Books. Her articles about people’s emotional and spiritual relationship with nature have appeared in Orion, Sierra, Ecopsychology, The Ecologist, The Nation, Harper’s and other magazines. She lives with her husband, Andrew Gardner, in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, a region currently under exploitation by natural gas companies.

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