Nature is healing - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Just a few weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, people were home and bored with plenty of time on their hands. That’s when the “nature is healing” meme was born.
Like many of these things, it came out of a nugget of truth, but then quickly morphed into the absurd. With everyone in the world staying home, the internet was awash with images of empty highways and major city landmarks devoid of people. And, in some places, nature indeed was healing. Wildlife was roaming around unchecked, without humans and cars to scare them away. Then people got silly and posted pictures of the Loch Ness Monster returning to Inverness, Scotland and dinosaurs roaming Times Square in Manhattan.
The foundation for this whole idea was that, once humanity got out of the way, nature was able to return to the form it is supposed to take. The way God intended it, you might say.
Well, now that many of the control measures associated with the pandemic are being lifted around the world, you’re seeing “nature heal” in very different ways. For many European Football Championship games, depending on the country, you’ve seen stands full of fans cheering on their respective countries, as well as fans back at baseball and hockey games in the U.S. That’s in addition to restaurants back up and running and beaches full of people.
Things are a bit different here in Ontario, as I don’t need to tell you, for a few reasons - none of which I care to debate today.
No. Instead, I’m hoping to look at how “nature is healing” with one of the world’s beloved nations in recent weeks. Sure, I may be poking fun, but it’s actually quite sad.
First up in the “nature is healing” category is life in the U.S., our friends to the south.
While life had returned to “normal” in the U.S. for quite some time, with their new management and ready access vaccinations, the unofficial “back in business” date seemed to be Independence Day, which just passed.
You may already know where this is going. Aside from freedom, what do we next think of when we think of the United States? That’s right - guns. According to NPR, over the course of the 72-hour Independence Day long weekend, just under 550 shooting incidents were reported. As a result, 516 people were injured and over 180 people died from gunfire over the weekend of freedom, barbecue and beer. Nature is healing indeed.
Now, to be fair, I’m not the first person to make this joke. It came up even earlier with our American neighbours. In fact, it was when school reopened to in-person learning. With the return of in-person learning, so too did in-person shootings make a comeback. Just last month, The New York Times honoured 10 young people through the paper’s Student Editorial Contest. Lauren Koong from Texas was recognized for her essay, “It Took a Global Pandemic to Stop School Shootings”.
There is no better sign that life in the U.S. is returning to normal than residents shooting each other. It is, after all, their God-given right. (A side note is that the God-given right to guns argument has always been my favourite one by a country mile. Then again, I went to Catholic school, so maybe my teachers skipped the part of the Bible with all the guns in it. Knowing what I know about the Old Testament, it was likely in there.)
When things return to normal in Ontario, I wonder what our true “nature is healing” indicator will be. Road hockey? Paying $23 for a beer at a Toronto Maple Leafs game? Maybe people working their way through a crowd, saying sorry repeatedly to one another?