Viruses inform us
Salvador Macip, a geneticist, said in a recent interview that “the mission of viruses is not to kill us - the viruses that make us sick are only 1% of the total - their mission, like the one of any organism, is to spread. And they can only spread if they infect a cell. They make us sick only in passing, in the fulfilment of their mission to spread; but we are what we are thanks to them, because they carry genetic information between individuals and species. And they have also endowed us with what has made us better, since we use their information to improve our adaptation to the environment and its changes.” (La Vanguardia, 8/4/2020).
Indeed, science tells us that information is vital for all living systems, as it provides the ingredients for life to organize itself into living systems capable of growth and adaptation. In biology, living and learning are synonyms. A living system is a system that continuously learns. Our body, for example, will learn a lot from the presence of Covid-19, even if our mind does not perceive it.
If we consider human groups as living systems, we can say that the way they process the information that reaches them is absolutely vital for their survival and development. This is true, of course, for the Church, as a living system, and for each of the religious congregations, which should be "learning organizations" if they want to have a future.
That is why I was pleased to see that the Pope, in an interview with Austen Ivereigh (published on 8/4/2020), said: “I am thinking of my responsibilities now, and what will come afterwards. What will be my service as Bishop of Rome, as head of the Church, in the aftermath? That aftermath has already begun to be revealed as tragic and painful, which is why we must be thinking about it now. The Vatican’s Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development has been working on this, and meeting with me.” In other words, he wonders about what he is learning now to prepare for the future, and he takes it very seriously, reflecting with a group of experts.
It is the same instinct that I perceived in the executive council of the USG (Union of Superiors General), last March 31, during an online meeting.
The meeting was experienced as a fraternal meeting, during which information was shared about how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting each of the religious families. We were able to verify that some of our brothers have been infected or even died, like so many thousands of people around the world, but at the same time we recognized the enormous generosity and creativity generated in our religious families that stayed close to people, especially the most vulnerable.
In any case, what most impressed me about the meeting was the unanimous willingness to learn, as it was said in a letter to the rest of the superiors general: “We believe that we should take time, serenely, to reflect on the event that we are experiencing. We see it as an occasion for conversion, an occasion to open ourselves to the guidance of the Spirit and to grasp the consequences and look to the future. Surely, in our November Assembly we will be able to study this topic in depth, but now, as an executive council, we want to start reflecting on it. We will also express this to the UISG executive council so that we can work on it together.”
Viruses inform us. A healthy organism processes this information for its own vitality and that of its environment. May we stay united and live up to the current difficult circumstances.
Emili Turú "Vida Nueva", April 24, 2020