This does indeed seem a collective hero’s journey, with Covid-19, in many ways, the Call for our global community. The whole world seems to be undergoing a death-and-rebirth initiation experience – not just literal death (though there is plenty of that), but the world that was, the way we had lived, is dead to us: even if we wanted to, there is no way we can go back to life as it was.
I don’t want to discount the high human cost, but there do seem to be boons available to us. Los Angeles actually registering at one point as having the least pollution of any major city on the planet (who could have seen that coming a year ago?), or the Himalayas visible from from areas of India where they have not been seen in years! For once, everyone seems to be meeting their carbon reduction targets, whether or not they want to (and I don’t think there is any doubt that, in the U.S., the current leadership definitely doesn’t want to).
We have learned how fragile the carbon fuel industry is – and we have been reminded of how quickly the Earth can heal herself if given the opportunity.
But what we do with that knowledge, once the global community emerges the other side of the abyss, is the question.
The vaccine is not the Boon – at best, it’s a tool to help on the Return. My sense is that the Boon we can bring back revolves around this dawning awareness of what the world looks like when just a fraction of cars and jets and ships are spewing carbon into the atmosphere, when millions of visitors are not impacting the ecology of fragile natural wonders, and when wild animals are not having to play hide and seek with humans. Will we return to business as usual and get back to screwing up the planet – or will we learn from this experience, and temper the return to “normal” to embrace policies that lessen the economy’s dependence on fossil fuel and such?
Not every hero’s journey succeeds – Campbell notes, in Pathways to Bliss, that “there is always the possibility of disaster.” But this horrific experience with the coronavirus has gifted us with an opportunity to change the future, to alter our path going forward.
The real question may be are we – that is, humanity – up to the challenge?