In times of Covid

Image: Hamilton Grimaldi


The necessary care and affectionate brotherhood

Nowadays, especially during social isolation, due to the dangerous presence of the coronavirus, humanity has awakened from its deep sleep: it has begun to hear the cries of the Earth and the cries of the poor and the need to care for one another and also of nature and Mother Earth. Suddenly, we realized that the virus did not come from the air. It cannot be thought of in isolation, but within its context; came from nature. It is Mother Earth's response to the "Anthropocene” it's the "necrocene”, that is to say, against the systematic decimation of lives, due to the aggression of the industrialist process, in a word, of world-wide globalized capitalism. He advanced on nature, deforesting thousands of hectares, in the Amazon, in the Congo and in other places where humid forests are found. With that, it destroyed the habitat of hundreds and hundreds of viruses that are found in animals and even in trees. They jumped on other animals and gave them to us.

As a result of our uncontrolled voracity, every year around one hundred thousand species of living beings disappear, after millions of years of life on Earth and, according to recent data, there are a million living species at risk of disappearing.

The main idea of ​​modern culture was and remains the power as domination of nature, of other peoples, of all natural riches, of life and even the confines of matter; this domination has now occasioned the threats that hang over our destiny. This idea-force has to be overcome. Well said Albert Einstein: "a idea that created the crisis cannot be the same one that will get us out of the crisis; we have to change”.

The alternative would be this: instead of power-domination must put the fraternity and the necessary careary. These are the new force-idea. As brothers and sisters, we are all interdependent and must love and care for one another. Care implies an affectionate relationship with people and with nature; he is a friend of life, he protects and gives peace to everyone around him.

If power-domination meant the clenched fist to submit, now we offer the outstretched hand to intertwine with other hands, to care and to affectionately embrace. This careful hand translates a non-aggressive gesture towards everything that exists and lives.

Therefore, it is urgent to create a culture of fraternity without borders and the necessary care that binds everything together. Taking care of all things, from our body, our psyche, our spirit, others and more simply the garbage from our homes, the waters, the forests, the soils, the animals, one and the other, starting with the more vulnerable.

We know that everything we love, we care for, and everything we care for we love too. Care heals past wounds and prevents future ones.

It is in this urgent context that one of the most beautiful myths of Brazilian culture takes on meaning. Latin, the myth of care: “One day, while walking on the bank of a river, Careful saw a piece of clay . He was the first to come up with the idea of ​​taking some of it and molding it into the shape of a human being. As he gazed, pleased with himself, at what he had done, Jupiter, the supreme god of the Greeks and Romans, appeared. Caution asked him to breathe spirit into the figure he had just molded. Which Jupiter willingly acceded to.”

When, however, Careful wanted to name the creature he had designed, Jupiter forbade him. He said that this prerogative imposing a name was his mission. But Care insisted that he had that right to have first thought and molded the creature into the shape of a human being.

While Jupiter and Care were arguing heatedly, suddenly the goddess Earth burst in. She also wanted to give the creature a name, because, she argued, it was made of clay, material of the body, of the Earth. This led to a general discussion without any consensus.

By common agreement, they asked the ancient Saturn, also called Cronos, founder of the golden age and agriculture, to act as arbitrator. He appeared on the scene. He made the following decision that seemed fair to all:      

“You, Jupiter, gave him the spirit; he will therefore receive this spirit back when that creature dies.”

“You, Earth, gave him the body; therefore he will also receive back his body when that creature dies.”

But since you, Careful, were the ones who first shaped this creature, it will be in your care as long as it lives.”

 “And since there is consensus among you about the name, I decide: this creature will be called Man (human being), that is, made of humus, which means fertile land”.

Let's see the uniqueness of this myth. Care comes before anything else. It is prior to spirit and prior to Earth. In other words, the conception of the human being as composed of spirit and body is not original. The myth is clear in stating that “care was the first to mold clay into the shape of a human being”.

Care appears as the set of factors without which human beings would not exist. Care constitutes that originating force from which the human being flows and feeds. Without care, the human being would continue to be just a clay doll or a disembodied spirit without root in our terrestrial reality.

Care, in molding human beings, committed love, dedication, devotion, feeling and heart. Such qualities passed on to the figure he designed, that is, to us human beings. These dimensions entered into our constitution, as a loving, sensitive, affectionate, dedicated, cordial, fraternal being and full of feeling. This makes the human being truly emerge as human.

Care received from Saturn the mission to care for human beings throughout their lives. Otherwise, without care, he would not subsist or live.

Effectively, we are all sons and daughters of our mothers' infinite care. If they hadn't welcomed us with affection and care, we wouldn't have known how to leave the cradle and get our food. In a short time we would have died, as we do not have any specialized body to guarantee our survival.

Care, therefore, belongs to the essence of the human being. But not only. He is the essence of all beings, especially living beings. If we don't care for them, they wither and slowly get sick and eventually die.

The same goes for Mother Earth and everything on her. As Pope Francis rightly said in his encyclical that takes as its subtitle " Caring for the Common Home”: “we must nurture a passion for caring for the world”.

Care is also a cosmological constant. Well say cosmologists and astrophysicists: if the four forces that sustain everything (gravitational, electromagnetic, weak nuclear and strong) had not been articulated with extreme care, the expansion would be too rarefied and there would be no density to originate the universe, our Earth and ourselves. Or else it would be too dense and everything would explode in a chain and nothing would exist that exists. And this care presides over the course of galaxies, stars and all celestial bodies, the Moon, the Earth and ourselves.

If we live the culture and ethics of care, associated with the spirit of brotherhood among all, also with the beings of nature, we will have laid the foundations on which a new way of relating and living in our Common Home, Earth, will be built. Care is the great medicine that can save us and the general fraternity will allow us the always desired commensality and love and affection among all.

Then we will continue to shine and thrive on this beautiful little planet.

This consideration of care concerns all those who care for life in its diversity and for the planet, especially now, under the Covid-19 pandemic, the medical staff, male and female nurses and others who work in hospitals, as essential care it heals past wounds, prevents future ones and guarantees our future of our civilization of brothers and sisters, together in the same Common Home.

*Leonardo Boff is an ecologist, philosopher and writer. Author, among other books of The necessary care (Voices).

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