“Men should not be too smug in their own reason;
Only a foolish man will walk his field
And count his ears too early in the season;
For I have seen a briar through winter’s snows
Rattle its tough and menacing bare stems,
And then, in season, open its pale rose;”
All throughout the Divine Comedy, Dante has used countless vivid images of nature to make his points. The bible itself is littered with natural imagery. The bible begins with Adam and Eve being turned out of the Garden of Eden, and countless figures of the Old and New Testaments retreat to nature to reconnect with God and have divine revelations. Most of Jesus’ parables are about nature, (seeds, soil, animals, bread, water), because that is what the people already knew and understood. He wasn’t telling the people new things, he was elucidating on old things.
Last Thursday I went to UofO to see Robert F. Kennedy, jr. speak. He explained all of this, and continued that nature is where we can see God most clearly. In unadulterated, natural creation, we can most nearly commune and connect with God.
It was mentioned in class that Dante would probably have a hard time sitting down with George W. Bush to have a conversation because of his faith-based initiatives. Whenever church and state get involved with each other both become tainted and corrupt, (as is illustrated by Dante in the figures of the Harlot and the Giant in the pageant in Canto XXXII of the Purgatorio). However, if Dante were to visit the 21st century and take a critical look around, I believe he would be even more shocked and appalled by the flagrant abuse and misuse of God’s creation by the Bush administration. We are not being good stewards of the land, water and air that God created for us. You don’t see carbon emissions in the Paradiso.
The capitalist controllers of the world are being allowed to rape, pillage, and ravage the land, compromising creation’s integrity and making the world unsafe for human beings, who are made in the image of God, made from the matter of stars, the universe come to consciousness of itself. The capitalist controllers, (the stockholders and CEOs of large corporations, driven by profit to pollute the air and water, eradicate forests, perpetuate desertification), would be in the Ptolomea, Round 3 of Cocytus, Circle 9 of the Inferno. This round is for those who are treacherous against the ties of hospitality. We are all guests on this planet: we come and stay for a short time and then we leave. None of us are permanent fixtures here; none of us can really own the land, water, or air. Yet these capitalist controllers act as if they do, and are the most disrespectful of guests. And George W. Bush, who rescinds policies that held corporations responsible and makes new policies that allow corporations to continue their outrageous ways, would be included in that company. Somehow, it isn’t that much of a stretch for me to imagine that his soul has already fallen to the Ptolomea, and a demon remains in its place.
Dante’s Paradiso is a place of community: souls are dancing and singing round and round together, and all souls are together in the Empyrean, the hierarchical levels are just for Dante’s benefit. As a community on earth, we can rise up and demand that corporations and big government take responsibility and stop corrupting our planet.