By Abraham Entin
I have just finished reading a wonderful book by Isabel Allende. Ines of my Soul tells the story of the initial foray of the Spanish into the land called “Chile” in the middle of the 16th century. It is narrated by Ines Suarez, a Spanish woman who comes to the “New World” in 1537 and participates fully in the on-going struggle between the Spanish invaders and the indigenous inhabitants of the area. The tribes are uncivilized savages who are known to practice human sacrifice. The civilized Spanish, on the other hand, wipe out entire villages in their quest for gold and riches–killing or enslaving the survivors.
Today I woke up in the midst of the Corona Virus Pandemic to a presidential proclamation that “we do not want the cure to be worse than the disease”. The “disease”, of course is the illness. The “cure” is the kind of Shelter in Place and physical distancing that pose a grave threat to the global economic system. His proposed solution calls for the resumption of economic life, even if it results in an unknown (but presumably large) number of human casualties. It has been characterized by some as a form of “human sacrifice”.
I am often grateful to Mr. Trump for his ability to illuminate great social truths–even if this is not the intention in what he says. His remarks about “pussy grabbing by the rich and famous” was true in the way he, along with Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein and, in an aspirational way, many other men- live and operate in their relationships with women. It was his crude way of putting it that shocked us, but it also helped to invigorate the ongoing struggle against this grotesque aspect of our social arrangements.
So, too, his remarks about the “disease and the cure”, while shocking to some, are simply his way of expressing a deep truth about the way our world operates.
Slavery, in one form or another, has been the norm in economic life. There are still women and girls chained to sewing machines in factories. There are farm workers dying from exposure to pesticides and poisons while working at starvation wages, miners dying of black lung disease, children exploited for sexual satisfaction and profit around the world. The slavery of addiction is revealed to be a marketing strategy for the pharmaceutical industry, and corporations routinely balance the cost of safety improvements against the cost of product liability suits.
The list is seemingly endless–as is the harm done to our planet and the species we share it with. What the president said should not come as a surprise to us. It is just the crudity and frankness of his statement that startles us.
There are certainly many people and organizations around the world who recognize the reality of “human sacrifice” as the basis of our economic arrangements–that money and power are more valuable than human life and dignity–and who are working to change that reality and weave a new story of human life and living. This “New Story” is based upon the premise that life is sacred and worth saving, and that a system based upon serving each other is not a human sacrifice but a recognition of our mutual responsibility to each other, to ourselves, and to the universe we inhabit.
This is the true “cure” for the pandemic and the other challenges facing us in the years to come. With crisis comes opportunity, and with catastrophe the chance for a new beginning. May we seize this day in that spirit and bring to an end the practice of human sacrifice to human greed.
Abraham Entin is a singer, songwriter, and storyteller who dances at every opportunity. He is a long-time student of Rudolf Steiner’s social ideas and is particularly interested in how spiritual perspectives influence and help bring about positive social change.
He is the author of Living on the Fringe: A Memoir