Monday, March 23, 2020

Pope: "Nature having a Fit"

Tabloid website Life Site News recently caused an uproar among Catholics on social media regarding some comments the pope made to a Spanish report via webcam. Regarding the Covid 19 or Coronavirus pandemic, the pope replied to a reporter who stated that "the planet hasn't been very clean for a long times:"

"There's a saying that you surely know: God always forgives, we forgive sometimes, [but] nature never forgives, fires, earthquakes . . . that is, nature is having a fit, so that we will take care of nature."

The comment that "nature is having a fit" caused consternation to Life Site News and its patrons, mostly Caucasian right wing supporters. Many of them on social media have criticized the pope for suggesting that nature has emotions or is somehow sentient. The criticism comes at the tail end of the Amazon Synod where many of the aforementioned made accusations of Paganism against the Holy Father and the Vatican. Based on this schema, these folks will now interpret any comment made by the pope using nature as him espousing pagan beliefs.

Those who are Latinos or understand language and literature know that the pope is not realistically suggesting that nature is upset or is having a fit. The pope is using metaphorical language in a colloquial manner. The Spanish word "patalear" can mean stomping or having a fit in the general sense, but also means "protest" or "make a fuss" when used colloquially.  Many Hispanic cultures and even Italian culture often make use of colloquial expressions which often are metaphorical.

When the pope says that "nature is having a fit," he is using a figure of speech with a colloquial tone that the Spanish reporter understands being both men are Hispanics. Even in English, expressions such as "It is raining cats and dogs" or "that is very cool" do not literally mean precipitation of felis catus or canis lupus familiaris; or that something has a decreased temperature. Colloquially, these expressions are understood as an exaggeration in the description of precipitation and a declaration of the social attractiveness of something.

It is not news that Life Site News is bent on playing "gotcha games" with the pope. They have targeted his every word and action since he published Laudato Si which focused on the issue of Climate Change. It is not breaking news either that climate change is not a popular issue for right wing supporters. What I see here with this tabloid story and the reaction from some Catholics is a disconnect between some non-Hispanic Caucasians and Latinos. They do not seem to understand that the world is full of people who express themselves differently and that they cannot see others via the "kaleidoscope of whiteness."  This kind of approach is pretty much implicit white supremacy.  We have to be careful with interpreting the words and actions of people from other cultures via our own ethnic filter. 

As per the Holy Father's words and as a graduate of the sciences, I agree with him. Nature is rebelling. This is not because nature is some sentient entity, but because of man's activities which have disrupted the natural norms governed by the laws of physics which God implanted into every particle in spacetime. A warmer earth means mutations in single cell organisms. In fact, this is what expedited evolution 4 billion years ago on earth where during the Archean Eon, the waters on earth were as hot as 185 degrees. We know this based on silicon and oxygen isotopes in quartz rocks in the oceans.  So as our world warms and its oceans follow, single cell organisms will evolve and change forming newer forms that immune systems will have no defense against.  This will force natural selection to take place.  Those with weaker immune systems will die off while those with stronger ones will survive. The latter will produce stronger organisms that can fight off the newer bacteria and viruses until the next evolution takes place.  

As the pope stated, "nature never forgives." This is true. Nature not only denies forgiveness to all living organisms, but it also always wins. This is because nature is a blind algorithm meant to maintain life. Life has to cooperate with it. If not, life loses.  When we are conceived, we enter in a "contract," if you will, with nature. We have to abide by the laws or simply perish. This is how God designed it. It is like an operating system on a computer or phone. If you tamper with it, the system will malfunction causing a crash and mass deletion of files. This is why we must take climate change seriously.

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