Silent autumn

Everything I have read and heard so far about the coronavirus (let me write it with a small c) makes us believe that we will have a silent autumn in Brazil. In cities, people leaving their homes as little as possible, schools closed, events, work or leisure, canceled in the next three months. And it’s extremely important that this happen. We will save thousands of lives, especially the elderly, if we do so. 

It’s useless to say that there are other diseases and causes that kill much more. There is no point in thinking that it is not with us, that it is not real. Nor will panic, selfishness, despair help. The only attitude that will have positive effects is prevention and obedience to the guidelines of the competent authorities. 

But … unfortunately, things are not that simple. There are always the alienated, the self-centered, the ignorant, as history has abundantly proved to us. In 1962, marine biologist and writer Rachel Carson, outraged by the applications of DDT in food, wrote the bestseller Silent Spring. 

Dr. Rachel warned us about the consequences for animal biodiversity, of the indiscriminate application of non-selective insecticides. The silence, according to her, would come from the lack of insects and birds in the environment.

In Brazil, as in other countries, we are also about to experience a profound silence in the cities. This, however, caused, not by the lack of birds, but by human beings circulating! It will be a temporary silence, perhaps for three or four months, but it can represent a time for reflection, a brief stop in this crazy and fast world that we call Earth, our home today. 

If we think about it, this forced decrease in the speed of our daily lives will not only save the lives of thousands of people, who will not be infected. In Brazil at least, an even greater number of lives will be saved, for other reasons.

In our country, five people die per hour in traffic. There are 120 a day. Almost eighty percent are young people up to 25 years old. How many will stop dying, with this “mandatory stop”? How many die each year, at parties, bars, fights and even on football fields? When being assaulted, by various disputes or even stray bullets? There are more than 3,000 murders a month in Brazil.

How many will stop dying, simply because they didn’t leave home? Yes, I venture to say that we will have fewer deaths in this silent autumn of 2020, even considering the virus. 

This shows us that we can learn a lot, with the time that we will have to reflect. We can start, for example, to reflect on how we are leading our lives, how we are spending our time. For now, it will be a solitary, individual reflection, at most in the family. But as soon as we get back to “normal” life, we can move forward, collectively, in building a better world, with less rush. Love, Compassion (let me write with a capital C), respect for laws, for people and for God, are themes that can inspire our reflections, in the refuge of our home.

Calm and sincere reflection, in our home, in our room or under a tree, can bring us more understanding, more peace of mind and, why not? More contentment. It can make it clear to all of us what is really essential, what is really important in our brief passages here on this Planet. 

Speaking more pragmatically, we who work in agriculture may be less directly affected, as we work a lot of time outdoors, away from the agglomerations of big cities, offices or factories. But we can begin to understand a little better the dynamics involved in contamination by microorganisms.

This situation will be useful in the correct development of the recent trend of multiplication of beneficial bacteria on the farm. It will help us to better understand plant diseases which, contrary to what almost all agronomy books say, are not caused by viruses, bacteria and fungi. Infections with these microorganisms are actually the result of other factors.

The main ones may be the inappropriate use of fertilizers and pesticides, as well as the improper management of soils, which become unbalanced, hard and lifeless.

This situation decreases, in the agro-ecosystem, the life possibilities of the great majority of species. In turn, the lesser competition ends up favoring a small number of species, which then proliferate in an exaggerated manner, and which agronomy insists on calling “diseases”.

As in agriculture, in the case of the coronavirus, we need, of course, to adopt all the necessary emergency measures. But we also need to think more. What’s the use of washing your hands when using the bathroom in the mall, and then reaching for the door handle? What is the use of leaving the elderly at home if we, who live with them, are going in crowds?

Well-nourished plants, in balanced, detoxified, biodiverse soils, are much more resistant and are hardly sick. So are we too. Therefore, we will take good care of ourselves, our children and the elderly. With good nutrition, quality sleep, constant hydration.
We should also choose better what we read, what we hear, what we speak. Because these are doors through which good or bad things come in, for our soul. Let us raise our thoughts and certainly our immune system will rise with them. OM MANI PADME HUM.

Antonio N. S. Teixeira
Executive Director – IBA

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