The year is 2020. The month April. The day, Sunday 5th. It is Palm Sunday on the Christian calendar. This morning I checked the Covid-19 global tracker and the count was 1,227,122 confirmed cases, 66,886 deaths and 254,626 recovered (a recovery rate of about 21%). There’s a deep silence in my spirit. What is this time teaching me?
Late last night I watched the movie, Dark Waters. It is the account of lawyer, Robert Bilott’s 20-year legal battle against the chemical manufacturer, DuPont, after he uncovered their contamination of a town, with lethal chemicals. And as if that wasn’t enough, this morning I read Forbes contributor, David DiSalvo’s article, “I Spent a Day in the Feeding Frenzy of N95 Mask Sellers and Buyers During the Coronavirus Pandemic: This is What I Learned.” The question in my mind, “What is my spirit leading me to contemplate?”
These seemingly unconnected accounts lay bare a truth of our human existence, our unfathomable capacity for greed. And I ask myself, Why? How can we be so consumed with greed that human life becomes easily expendable and simply a necessary expense for personal prosperity? Where does it come from? Is it learnt behavior? Who teaches it? Why would we even want to learn such a lesson? Questions tumbled through my mind. And a thought that I’ve thought for quite some time emerges. We are sheep in need of a shepherd.
This concept of us being sheep has been a central aspect of my Catholic Christian upbringing, as indeed it has been with about every other Christian. While there are numerous references to this analogy in the Bible, I’m not sure that this is its only residence or that it is where it originated. What I do know, is that this analogy is widespread, often repeated and somehow linked to piety and closeness to God. I’ve been questioning this for some time. Clarity came through a movie and an article.
Sheep count among the dumbest of animals and can be herded by anything that makes a louder noise than them. Harsh but true. And you know this, even if sheep herding is not an aspect of your living experience. You’ve seen this in the movies, you’re read this in your childhood storybooks, in nursery rhymes. At the same time you learnt that sheep need to be herded, you were being schooled on the idea that you are a sheep. You learnt this when you were required to be obedient in school and that questioning your teacher was being disrespectful. If your schooling was in a denominational school, additionally you were taught that you are part of a fold being guided by God. The overarching conditioning – you are in need of guidance. Unable to think for yourself. All of us, I think, have been students in this school of thought. Even those of us who will eventually become herders.
And that leads me to the current profiteers of N95 masks and other personal protective equipment, political leaders who place the stock market above human life and DuPont. What good is your money if the people are too sick to create the products for you to buy? What good is your money if there aren’t enough workers to run your businesses? What good is your money when your voters are dead? What good is your money when you’re faced with death? With respect to DuPont, studies show that as a result of their actions 99% of Americans have the class of chemicals PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances) present in their blood. That probably includes you, Mr. and Ms. Herder. But here’s the thing, if the herders were also students in the school of the sheep, who herds them? Who is thinking on their behalf?
We believe we can recognize Greed when we see him, but maybe that particular herder who calls himself Greed, is an ingenious master of disguise. Think about it. When does the desire to have more, to be more comfortable, to do better for your children, turn into something sinister? What happens? When does success turn into, ‘I am better than, therefore I deserve more than?’ When does the blanket descend over the negative and destructive consequences of my actions, hiding them from my view, leading me to believe they do not exist? How does that happen?
In the school of the sheep, the answer is given, and the search is discouraged. Acceptance is revered above questioning. Interestingly, this nurtures a type of shortsightedness that obscures anything beyond our immediate existence, anything beyond our personal survival. Inevitably, like the sheep, our direction soon comes only from the thing that drives us, good or bad. And sometimes that thing is Greed.
Proverbs 2:6 in the Bible states, “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than the gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand, in her left hand are riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace.”
‘Find’ implies a search. To find wisdom, we must search for it. And to search, we must question. I have long thought it curious, that from time immemorial, across all beliefs, a few shed material things, secluded themselves for a while and emerged, days, months or years later with wisdom they were then able to share with the rest of us. Alone, they questioned and questioned and uncovered answers, understanding and peace. They shed their conditioning through self-reflection and contemplation. Strangely, a deadly virus has provided us, across the globe, with precisely that opportunity of seclusion.
The two greatest commandments can be found in various forms across all customs, “Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength and love your neighbour as yourself.” According to our talents, some of us will rise above and some us may stay below, but all of us are called to serve each other.
I am called to love God with my mind, that is my intellect, with my strength, that is my will. Therefore, I am free to choose, by my own power of thought, a path that leads to wisdom. I am not a sheep. And neither are you.
As an entrepreneur, Lorraine’s Mission is to awaken humanity, to the power that resides within us and to our collective and individual responsibility to care for and preserve our environment. She created the program The Interior Journey, to facilitate individuals on a journey of conscious self-reflection and contemplation toward increased awareness and MYGOTOLIST to facilitate a responsive and nurturing relationship between the service provider and service receiver