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Panjim-Goa : These days the entire world is under the grip of pandemic Covid-19. There are any number of videos, articles, comments from persons of various fields on Covid-19. Various hypotheses are presented regarding its origin, spreading, treatment, how to remain safe, what to do and what not to do. At times these hypotheses are contradicting and confusing. Which are true and which are false, who will tell us the truth? At present governments blame people, people hold governments responsible. The game of blaming others is going on. Some are sending prayer requests for their relatives and friends who are affected by Covid-19. Some recommend prayers and fasting so that God may stop this pandemic.

Simple folk believe that this pandemic is a punishment or curse sent by God and therefore only he can deliver us from it. Some ask, “If there is a God why is he silent? Why can’t he see the pain and agony of helpless people?” Thousands of questions are raised and will continue to be raised. No solutions or satisfactory answers. We are all lost in this tsunami of Covid-19. I am not a biomedical scientist, or doctor of medicine or from the field of medicine and health care. I am a linguist. Hence, I cannot talk about the cause and cure of Covid-19. In linguistics we use terms, surface structure and deep structure. Rules of transformation change deep structure into surface structure. From the surface structure, we discover the deep structure.

Using this principle of linguistics, as a Catholic and Jesuit priest, I tried to discover the deep structure of covid-19 in the Book of Genesis, chapters 1 and 2 of the Bible. These two chapters narrate how God created everything including humans using stories. The authors are not making historical or scientific facts. They are presenting faith statements based on their reflections, experience and knowledge. There are two accounts of creation. The Priestly account of creation is in Genesis 1:1-2:4a and the Yahwist account of creation is in 2.4b-25. According to the priestly account, after creating everything, on the sixth day God created man and woman in his own image and likeness. God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. God blessed man and woman and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living creature that moves on the earth.” God gave plants, birds, fishes and animals as food for them. Man was appointed as God’s administrator. This subduing does not mean exploitation of the environment by industry, technology, etc. Rather, it means that man has to overcome every sign of the chaotic forces in various spheres of life, and lead this world towards its God appointed destiny.

According to the Yahwist account God created earth and heavens, there was no one to work on the ground. Hence God created man. Later he created plants and animals. He placed man in the garden of Eden to till it and take care of it. God commanded the man saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Since man was alone, God then created woman from his rib. The expression “to till the earth and take care of it (2:15)” need not be restricted only to farming. It includes every human endeavour to harness the world’s latent energies, be they material, cultural or spiritual. Man has to help and guide the world to evolve towards its God appointed perfection. As the story of man’s life on earth unfolds in the following chapters of Genesis, sin makes its appearance and seriously impairs the relationship of love and trust between Adam (man) and Adamah (earth).

Every creature, except we humans, lives by God given instinct to it. Therefore, no creature really destroys the earth. They live as per God’s plan and in harmony with nature. God gave human persons the power of knowledge and free will to choose. Therefore, they filled themselves with arrogance, pride and all forms of vices and negativity. They exploited the earth and other creatures for their greed and pleasure. Ten thousand years ago or even prior to that human persons lived in harmony with nature. There were no skyscrapers, multistory buildings, airplanes, railways, steamers, vehicles, large bridges, electricity, nuclear energy, industry, factories, modern gadgets, large cities, smart cities, mining, bombs, rockets, and modern war equipment, pesticide, plastic, production of chemicals, garbage, etc.

Life was really simple. Mostly people lived in villages and forest areas. They breathed fresh air, worked in fields. Agriculture was the dominant occupation. Hunting was done exclusively for food. They ate fresh food, drank water from the streams or well and used herbal medicines. They lived in harmony with their tribe and the earth. Since they worked hard, their life span was short. In Konknni there is a saying, “Satt søt’tør, fondda bhitør” (sixty or seventy years, time to go to the grave). Such people do exist even now in the Amazon Rainforest of Brazil, the Rainforest of Congo in Central Africa, in certain islands of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. We label them as “savage, barbarians, uncivilized, uncultured” people. In India those who live in the forest and hilly areas are labelled as Adivasis or tribals. They used the forest products for their survival only and not for the accumulation of wealth by destroying forests, hills, and rivers.

We who call ourselves as “civilized and modern” instead of creating smart villages, created congested overpopulated cities. Our “civilized and modern” life has inflicted unbearable wounds on the earth which sustains us. We forgot the master plan of our creator for us. We disobeyed him. We thought that we could be smarter than him and live ignoring his commandments. After exploiting the earth, now we want to explore and exploit the moon and other planets. We want to control the universe and plan to become immortal. God must be repenting now for creating the human race and moreover giving humans the free will and intelligence to discover new things. And now we have to pay the heavy price for our own sins of exploitation ignoring God’s divine master plan for us and the universe.

We have not learned lessons from history. Wherever there was congestion of people, there were epidemics. The entire humankind is responsible for the past, present and future viruses and pandemics. Covid-19 is the byproduct of our misused intelligence. It is a man-made disaster and not a divine punishment. Covid-19 might come under control in near future but it has come here to remain like Malaria, Dengue, and several other fevers, Tuberculosis, Cancer, Pneumonia, Polio, HIV virus, and other diseases. Many more new viruses will emerge and cause new diseases in the near future. Jesus had warned his disciples saying, “Nations will fight one another and kingdom oppose kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and, in many places, famines and plagues.” (Gospel of Luke 21:10-11). What happens if humans disappear from the earth? Will there be any loss. Surely not, on the contrary the earth will bloom and flourish.

There are no instant and short-term solutions for all our problems including Covid-19. What I suggest might seem like a madman’s madness. But I am convinced based on my life experience in my own village till I joined the Jesuits to become a priest. I joined in 1971 after completing my B.Sc. At home we had no electricity, phone, gas, or any modern gadgets, except a small transistor and alarm clock. We cooked and ate fresh vegetables, fish and meat at home. In our nourishing diet there was no processed food, or artificial drinks. We ate fresh fruits and drank fresh fruit juice. Milk, curd, buttermilk, ghee was prepared at home. We used earthen vessels for cooking, using exclusively firewood. We cultivated vegetables and fruit bearing trees. We drank water from our own well. Besides studies, I have to do manual work on our property including plucking coconuts and other fruits.

Life was simple, tough but enjoyable and healthy. We lived by our basic needs and not by greed. There was no pollution, no industry, no multistory buildings in my village. We had not even one MBBS doctor in our village. For common ailments home remedies and herbal medicines were used. In our village there was Dr. S.V. Pai an Ayurvedic doctor but was prescribing allopathic medicines. There were two medical compounders. They fulfilled the role of doctors. My mother gave birth to her seven children at home with the help of local women. We lived in harmony with nature. Our movements outside the village were restricted. Because our basic needs were met in the village and at the taluka town. After joining the Jesuits in 1973 for the first time I went to our district headquarter Mangaluru and stayed with the Jesuits of St. Aloysius College!

To save the earth and ourselves we have to abandon the cities and create new villages and go back to agriculture, horticulture and animal rearing occupation. Let us fill this earth with native trees and plants, instead of erecting concrete structures. In short let us go back to ten thousand years in history and live like our ancestors. Sounds crazy and stupid. Yes, I am convinced of this. Thank God there are a few people who live this way. In North America and Canada Orthodox Mennonites advocate high moral standards and have many restrictions on technology. They live with no electricity, telephones, gas, automobiles or computerized technologies. They use horses instead of tractors. They live as a community.

Last week Amit Wagle, a member of my WhatsApp group sent me a video of a lady living in a forest area. I was overwhelmed by seeing it. I am sharing it with you on WhatsApp. I am also sharing with you another video ” What happens if all humans die” by Jaggi Vasudev, popularly known as Sadhuguru. If God gives me another life, I will live in a forest among the animals without confining them to cages. I will live to fulfill God’s masterplan, “to till the earth and take care of it”. Sounds utterly crazy. It is better to live a “crazy” life than to destroy the earth and ourselves with endless viruses.

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