Last year when the fight against a pandemic ruled our world – and in most countries across the globe the battle is even more alive now – we could witness unusual images as a result of the global shutdown.
As human activity stilled and people were locked down in their homes and an unprecedented silence entered metropolitan cities, wildlife responded. Wild horses appeared in the streets of Sarajevo, jackals in the heart of Tel Aviv, deer were wandering in forests during daylight, female loggerhead turtles could undisturbingly lay her eggs at closed beaches. Smoggy air turned into cleaner skies, polluted rivers turned into clearer waters. All of a sudden silence ruled the chaotic world and natural conservation could exist without human interference.
You may even say the pandemic has been a demonstration that we are not apart, but a part of the natural world. We are a part of a larger complex natural ecosystem. And our human impact is valid.
As David Attenborough said in his latest nature documentary A Life on Our Planet: “WE MUST RE-WILD OUR WORLD”. Watching his witness statement of today’s natural world, Attenborough demonstrates the planet’s wilderness and biodiversity are rapidly declining, and it’s shocking proof.
Re-wilding the world starts with re-wilding ourselves. We are so accustomed to spending most of our time indoors in air-conditioned and central heated houses and offices. We hardly know how cold or heat feels anymore. In our modern lives we often do sedentary work, we sit in front of computer screens most of the day. We watch our Twitter timeline to see the latest dramatic events in the world. We read our newspapers and magazines on the same computer screens. We let in the noise of the digital world, where conspiracies, fake news and sensational stories spread across the world straight into our living rooms. Stories that don’t seem to unite, but divide the world. Modern and fast lives, in which the connection with the natural world is completely lost. Because we are too busy living these lives. We feel that we are a part of a material world, separated from the natural world.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There are small things we can do, on a daily basis, to bring back the connection with nature, re-wilding ourselves, because deep down the connection is there. How do we otherwise explain the joy we feel when we walk in a forest and we see deer grazing? I felt it the other day, the fresh winter air on my cheeks and the scent of dewy leaves, while I walked through the forest and dunes and young deer were running off from the distance. Pure bliss. Peace. These serene moments in the forest make us forget our mundane troubles.
Here’s what we can do to re-wild ourselves, to end the lost connection with the natural world:
Turn off the noise of screens and televisions and walk in the park or in the forest.
Fill your lungs with the cleanest air. Immerse yourself in nature and watch the birds and look for their names.
Be powered by ass, not gas
Take your bike for transport and use those strong legs to get you from A to B. Feel the wind in your hair. Breathe in the fresh air.
Get your fuel free of pesticides and plastic
Eat vegetables from a local organic farmer or a local market. Who actually wants eggplants sprayed with pesticides that kill biodiversity and which are wrapped in plastic? The dreadful amount of plastic packaging in supermarkets is hard to watch.
Re-connect with the animal kingdom
“Change our diets into mostly plant-based diets. The planet can’t support billions of meat eaters,” David Attenborough says in A Life on Our Planet and he isn’t the first conservationist and environmentalist who claims this.
In this way we also help prevent wildlife’s habitat, like the Amazon and Brazil’s Cerrado, from being destroyed and counter deforestation.
We help making an end to factory farms which has normalized animal suffering and the killing of tens of billions of animals, like 50 billion chickens plus tens of billions of fish and shellfish each year.
Our connection to animal lives is completely lost, we consider them as food, as objects, and not as sentient beings. We keep denying their suffering and keep our heads buried in the sand. To reconnect with the animal world and to protect wildlife’s habitat, we have to change our diet and stop the animal holocaust.
Be the gatekeeper your mind needs
We can be easily bombarded and become overwhelmed by the news each day if we’re not careful. Especially in these pandemic times the stream of negativity that flows into our world is dramatic. Watching the news, it doesn’t bring you anything, but misery. I’d rather read a good book or a well written article about the topics I care.
Really can’t miss the news updates? Allocate a time frame, for example an hour in the afternoon. If you’d rather want to keep your spirits high than low, don’t start the mornings with watching or reading the news. To me, there isn’t a worse way of starting my day.
Feed your soul, don’t poison it.
Again, in these unusual and depressing times, we need to be extra watchful how we feed our souls. Caring for ourselves and each other is what we have to do now. Let’s surround us with people who want us to grow and who want the best for us, and vice versa. Support each other. Go for walks together. Read books that inspire. Have dreams and goals you’d like to work on.
Grief need not harden us. It can open us. It can remind us that our highest duty is to maintain a harmonious relationship between people, nature, and spirit. ~ Nadia Owusu
Illustration by Vanessa Rose Graham