Shut Down the Planet Every Year for Two Weeks



L. Ali Khan
This planet belongs to all forms of life: plants, animals, birds, insects, humans, bacteria, and viruses. Humans have no inherent right to monopolize the earth to the exclusion of other life forms. Our theologies and our philosophies tell us that we are the center of creation, we are the best life form, and we are God’s exceptional handiwork. It is time to reconsider our fatuous egotism. 

We are fragile. A microscopic virus, many times smaller than bacteria, both invisible, can kill us all. We have no chance to survive if viruses and bacteria combine their forces to wipe us out. That is the reality of our self-professed supremacy. Unfortunately, plants, animals, birds, and insects have fallen to our hegemony. Bacteria and viruses refuse to do so. Periodically, these microbes remind us, individually and as a species, that they can destroy us. We should be grateful that so far, they have not decided to bring about our extinction. They can, and they might.

We are only beginning to learn that trillions of bacteria and viruses live inside our bodies. Our human DNA is much smaller in quantum than the microbiome DNA that a human body contains. Our hearts, livers, intestines, skin, even our brains will cease to function if we kill the bacteria, viruses, and fungi living inside our bodies. Each human body is a fortress of the microbiome. Nature created humans to provide life-sustaining nourishment for the microbiome. Do not forget that the mitochondria, the ATP motors that provide us with energy, are the embryonic bacteria living in our cells. We die when the mitochondria die. Viruses and bacteria can kill us, but we cannot live without them either.

With the virus-prompted partial closure of the roads, airways, airports, trains, buses, the planet is already better off. Remember, how we take a sigh of relief when we see no more insects or mice running around our homes. Likewise, the confinement of humans into their holes has been a pleasant surprise for the creatures of the earth. The birds are happy. The dolphins have returned to the waters in Italy, and the Venice canals are clear for the fish to stick their heads out. In China, the largest emitter of harmful gases, the carbon emissions have been “25% lower than normal.” All over, the air is cleaner for everyone to breathe.
It is about time that humans mend their ways and allow the earth to nurture all life forms that it creates. We must reconceptualize our self-concept in showing our respect for the diversity of life. We must quit being the fake bully, whom a single blow brings down to the floor. 

Every year, in the first two weeks of April, let humans shut down what they do on earth and retreat to their homes. Impose a complete lockdown in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, every part of the planet. Let schools, colleges, and institutions of “higher learning” stop teaching anthropomorphic hubris. Let the roads be empty in New York City, Mumbai, Beijing, everywhere. Close all airports, so that no pathogenic planes are flying to Los Angeles, Madrid, Tokyo, anywhere. Let the beaches on the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Pacific, every lake and sea, be barren with no humans flashing their bellies and legs, anything. Let no cruise ships be sailing in seas and rivers. Let tourism stop. 

Here is a piece of good news. Here in Kansas, the Coronavirus has been less vengeful as compared to other parts of the country. Here the doctors are saying openly on public airways: The Kansas hospitals are relatively empty with fewer people going to the ER for heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and a host of other ailments. “Fascinating piece of psychobiology,” hesitantly says, one doctor. Better human health is one more reason to shut down the planet every year for at least two weeks.

The planned two-week closure, every year, without a pandemic lurking in the background will indeed be festive for all life forms, including humans.

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