Opinion: Letter from the Philippines
I have just watched the documentary, “Planet of The Humans,” from the confines of our home in the Philippines. This offering has financial and production connections to our town, the Zehner family, and reflects many of the concerns of its residents, I dare say.
We are in a very strict sort of lockdown here with military, paramilitary and police on the streets. No alcohol sales. No movement without a pass and then only on certain days for appointed tasks — food, pharmacy etc. Living like you, in a kind of paradise somewhat removed from city reality, we still walk on the beach and swim in the sea and try to ameliorate our anxieties and fears for ourselves, our friends and our children. My stepson is having repetitive nightmares of being stabbed … it is not hard to see or understand why.
Surrounded by the kind of poverty commonplace here, this film is really depressing. It is, however, thought provoking. At its root, it is describing greed and selfishness, or perhaps self-interested and willful myopia at best. And how the “information” we receive from media sources is really often only propaganda put out by those in whose interest the facades are maintained. Spin doctors.
It doesn’t matter what your politics are, red or blue, or one’s religion, we are all being conned and seduced by the ability and distraction of consuming more stuff while destroying our home. Greed is not good.
I am fearful that the coronavirus is just one manifestation of protest from our overloaded and overexploited planet. Is it a way of diminishing population, and thus, the pressures of obtaining more … to feed and clothe, make cars and airplanes. Is this the tipping point? Is it the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning of the downfall of capitalism? Of democracy highjacked? The rise of totalitarianism, facism?
I was talking to the professor who runs the marine biology effort at our local university a couple or so years ago about the efficacy of rebuilding reefs. His preference was to build more sewage systems and ban plastic and let nature rebuild its own reefs. At the time I was myopic and argued the contrary. But what we did agree on, in good humor, was that there were too many damn people on the planet and health care was to blame for unnecessarily prolonging life.
Now we are confronted by a virus that will likely have two or three waves. If the past is any guide and that conversation is in the forefront of my memory, will I be a victim?
Spanish flu resulted, over its three year life, in the deaths of between 20 million and 60 million people depending on which source you believe. Estimated world population at that time was 1.8 billion. There were no bullet trains, few cars, no airliners, speedy container ships and huge oil transporters, very few cruise liners.
The world’s population today is 7.8 billion. We can all do this math. This does not account for drought and starvation, deaths from air pollution (estimated at 2 million annually in India alone), wars or the rise of another virus, Dengue, in South America — up 500% in some countries.
This is a very difficult time for everyone. It touches our lives, those of families and friends, our children, our very way of living life. The decisions we make in the next months and years, and those of our leaders, will dictate the new normal. Who lives, who dies.
So as November approaches, we have to make a decision. We have to decide who and what to believe. I suspect there may be little room for mistakes.
I miss the Yampa Valley, I miss the town and the mountains, and God forbid I even miss plowing twice a day. I miss it taking an hour to buy a gallon of milk. I miss going to the Renegades meetings. I miss standing in line for a chairlift. I miss those days when the ground is white, and the sky is blue, when both the setting sun and rising moon can be seen simultaneously, looking at the sky in summer at night absent light pollution. I miss my friends, even the neighbors with whom I am not always eye to eye, but I am still content with my family in this place.
Best wishes to all from our little and troubled part of the world and good luck. Stay safe, stay home and stay in touch with each other — it’s healthy.
Christopher Morson is an Oak Creek resident who was born British in London and became a U.S. citizen in 1990. He’s a seaman, dive instructor, financial analyst, entrepreneur. ski patroller, mountain climber and wanderer.
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