“The Life of Pi: A fanciful whimsy?”
A consequent thought came which may be usefully reflecting the story of ‘The Life of Pi’.
The film tells a (possible fantasy) story of a boy shipwrecked on a boat wherein he finds a tiger also landing. The tiger is plainly a threat and Pi realizes that he cannot tame the tiger and so decides (successfully) to train it—even giving a name ‘Richard Parker’. This results is a somewhat uneasy but real modus vivendi and both survive. At the end the tiger somewhat emaciated and not particularly grateful slinks off into the jungle.
The current coronavirus provokes thoughts and in particular what and why it is? Fundamentalist preachers believe plainly that it the wrath of God on wicked sinners. But we cannot believe this. Our God is not Zeus hurling down thunderbolts nor ‘thundering Jove’ (Horace Book 3 Ode 5 ‘Regulus’). We know who God is like because we have had Jesus Christ, the reality in our midst of Love—giving everything on the Cross to save us, not to zap us!
It is we who have caused trouble in our world by sin and although I do not really know what this virus caused, it is not impossible that somehow through our ill treatment some damage in the environment/ecology has triggered the virus. That is only a whimsy. But there is no doubt that the virus is likely to remain with us for some time. There are a number of Plagues in History—Athens in 430 BC: The Black Death 1348: The Great Plague 1665: none of these disappeared in one: the plague in Athens went on for several years as did the Black Death and (for one year) the Great Plague. This is what we may have to live with.
So the questions should not be ‘Why is all happening to us?’ but ‘What can we do about it?’ Despite the horrors of the Virus there have been many benefits—the quick and advanced advance in technology for connection etc: the great generosity and courage of so many people (as in the War): the chance of time to reflect (Easter has been the most prayerful and reflective celebration for me for many years) Things will be very different and, let us pray, for the better. Back to Pi and Richard Parker. It is hoped that a vaccine will be found to allay the Virus—may it be so! It is unlikely that it will totally zap the virus—and Nature when thwarted can find her own way back! So why not ‘train the tiger?’ If we go with Nature she often responds. We may well decide how to live with the Virus and work in tune with nature. We may not like it but we may get used to it. Look at opportunities for the present rather than either try to recover the past—or give up!
Some ways in which to change. Firstly let us respect the environment and its ecology and look after the planet and cherish it (Genesis 2). Let us remain being kinder and generous. and enable the poor and needy and oppressed have their rightful share. Let us value and develop the changing technologies for the better and enable us to share and care in unity. Let us be humbler and realize that the world (and its poor) do not belong to us. In these days we have found new refreshing ways of recreation, social life and meditation: let us develop them. There are other options—find your own! Above all remember that God is our Loving Father and Good Shepherd with the gifts of The Spirit, and turn to Him and learn from Him how we can love Him and each other. And the tiger may not only be trained but may we grow in love.
Fr Boniface Moran, 1st May 2020.