COVID-19 could not happen in a world where animals matter.
If we know anything at all about this killer disease, it is that the development of its Zoonotic (animal to human transmission) capacity could only have happened in a world where the global environment is dangerously out of balance. Industrial animal agriculture, rampant deforestation, climate change and the global trade in exotic species: individually each of these could have been a cause in its own right but collectively, their impact created a toxic miasma that was a perfect incubator in which this virus could develop.
During these past 6 weeks of the State of Emergency in Ontario, I have had the opportunity to walk each day up to the DSC fields to see the animals (at the required minimal distance, of course). On every occasion, leaving the house means that I leave the radio behind, with its endless chronicle of death and dying. By the time the fence line appears, half way up the farm lane, my vision widens and for much of the coming period I am “outside of my mind.” Without fail, as I come upon it the animals’ world enchants with its relative simplicity and quiet, devoid of the conflicts, the trauma that mark human society. The donkeys’ sanctuary is as much for me as it is for them.
Here at the DSC, of course, animals do matter. Their condition is a part of our daily decision-making. Our community includes both human beings and other animals, with the needs of both groups brought into every consideration. Actions are often circumscribed by the presence of these other creatures; efficiency and order have inclusive elements in their definitions, and our interdependence – biologically, psychologically and morally – is the essential ‘given’ in all deliberations. There is balance.
In the coming days, the coming weeks, we hope to resume gradually our everyday lives. Already, many understand that this does not mean a return to the old ‘normal’; if we are to survive, the previous imbalance is no longer an option. At all levels of life, the fact of interdependence must form the ground on which strategies are developed and decisions made. Sanctuaries don’t have to be unique; with balance they can be everywhere.