The Great Realisation, The Great Awakening

Some time ago, there were two long-established car tyre shops near my place operating right next to each other.

May 17, 2020

By Anil Netto
Some time ago, there were two long-established car tyre shops near my place operating right next to each other.

Perhaps it was the tough competition but one fine day, one of the two tyre shops closed down. The next thing I knew, a pawn shop had sprouted in its place.

That left the remaining tyre-shop owner wondering if he was in the right line of business. “You know, that pawn shop has so many customers and the owner makes tens of thousands of ringgit each month,” he told me.

So it wasn’t surprising, when with the easing of the movement control on May 4, long lines of people queued up to get into pawn shops. Some wanted to redeem pawned items and extend the term of old loans. Others wanted to make interest payments or pawn more items.

This is a sure indication that many people are struggling at the bottom of the social ladder. And that’s not even counting migrants and refugees, who have no legal right to work.

In the midst of all this, we see ruling MPs being appointed to cushy jobs at the top of government-linked companies, presumably to seal their loyalties to the new government that grabbed power earlier this year.

Sometimes you have to wonder about the priorities of certain politicians and MPs, many of whom have a predilection for mega-projects that earn big bucks for certain corporate interests.

The post-COVID-19 world – and it will take some time for us to be truly free of the coronavirus – should be a different world. But many with vested interests are hankering for a resumption of “business as usual”.

All the money in the world cannot save us if  we do not take care of the natural environment and stop encroaching on the natural habitat of creatures of the forests and hills and caves.

When we chop down the forests and the hills, we not only deprive these creatures of a home, we also deprive the planet of carbon sinks and worsen climate change.

The pandemic has taught us important lessons, and it should catalyse a Great Realisation. This is the title of a magical YouTube video by Probably Tom Foolery. The short story, set years into the future, sees a father reading a bed-time story about the past to his children.

In the form of a poem, the story imagines the beautiful things that could be possible if only we learn the right lessons from the pandemic.

You see the people came up with companies
to trade across all lands
but they swelled and got bigger
than we ever could have planned…

We’d drive around all day in circles
We’d forgotten how to run
We swapped the grass for tarmac
and shrunk the parks till there were none

And then in 2020, the pandemic struck and lockdowns were declared. Although many suffered, some people started dancing, others took up singing and baking. Families got together, and  simple acts of kindness were cherished.

But something else was also happening. Nature got the chance to breathe again, said the story-teller. The break from human activity rejuvenated rivers and seas.

And when people finally re-emerged from their homes, said the father reading the story, they preferred the new world out there to the one of grey polluted skies, congested roads and dirty rivers that they had left behind.

“But why did it take a virus to bring the people back together?” (asks the son).

“Well sometimes, my boy, you have to get sick before you start feeling better.”

Search YouTube for the full video The Great Realisation.

And so the pandemic has given us a vision of what could be possible in the world if we focus on solidarity, kindness, charity, family and community over selfishness and greed.

People’s basic needs are not complicated. Wholesome food, clean air, clean rivers and seas… A connection with Nature through ample green spaces, rivers and seas, lush forests and hills. A decent living wage, enough rest. Love, family, community solidarity. A decent public health system. Safe neighbourhoods. Congestion-free transport networks.

But what has messed up our world is the greed  that has concentrated wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer billionaires, while extracting a tremendous toll on the environment.
eople have become its minions. This runaway model of extractive greed has devastated ecosystems, leading to loss of biodiversity, toxic emissions, rising sea levels and climate change. This Market has now to be put back to its proper place, ie “re-embedded” in society, to serve the interests of the people and the natural world.

If we can put people and the planet before profits and greed, then we have a chance of moving to a better world. As we step out of our homes, we should ponder over the choices before us – will we go back to business as usual or will we move to a more sustainable world that values human solidarity?

The vision of Pentecost is spelt out clearly in Romans 8:

20 It was not for its own purposes that creation had frustration imposed on it, but for the purposes of him who imposed it

21 with the intention that the whole creation itself might be freed from its slavery to corruption and brought into the same glorious freedom as the children of God.

22 We are well aware that the whole creation, until this time, has been groaning in labour pains.

23 And not only that: we too, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we are groaning inside ourselves, waiting with eagerness for our bodies to be set free.

Let us make this new creation a reality in our world. That would be a Great Awakening!

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