Birmingham Stage Company


15 April 2020

One special joy during the current situation is seeing nature blossom regardless of the fate of the human species. I'd be interested to know if there has ever been a global event in history that has benefited nature so much while homo sapiens are in such trouble. As a species, we are so full of our self-importance, we find it almost unbelievable that we can be brought this low by an elemental life-form. Our cavalier attitude to antibiotics demonstrates how disconnected we are from the reality of our situation; our lack of preparation for this pandemic a sign that, despite all the historical evidence to the contrary, we were unwilling to believe it would happen to us. At root, we can be an appallingly destructive mammal, desperate to consume every resource, determined to exert our power over all living creatures, wilfully oblivious to the chaos we create. We think this behaviour perfectly acceptable - that it's the natural order of things. We are, after all, 'God's creatures', with apparently a God-given right to dominate the world. And it's hard to think of a country which cares less about nature than China. I once went to an enormous national park in the country and after an hour I realised I couldn't hear any birdsong. “That's because they've all been eaten” informed our guide: almost every bird in the entire national park. China is at the forefront of 'medicine' which eagerly seeks out and slaughters every kind of creature, especially if it's endangered, no matter what the cost. It's a country that has ten thousand Moon bears trapped in hideous, tiny cages with catheters brutally inserted into their stomachs, so their bile can be drawn out each day for human consumption: the bears are held this way, unable to move at all, for thirty years or more - and in China it's perfectly legal. With this total disregard for animal welfare, it is no wonder that China has produced virus after virus that has crossed into the human population. Maybe, at last, the Chinese government will, in its own interest, clamp down on the wet markets where Corona first started. I once mistakenly walked into one and felt I had entered the set of a grotesque horror film - it was literally indescribable. So it can only be hoped that some good may come out of this tragedy, even if it is spurred by our own human needs. But for now, I am a witness to nature getting on perfectly well despite us, for once in my lifetime. While the inadequacy of man is laid bare for all to see. 

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