A year ago I wrote an article “How to Prepare for the Next Pandemic So You Won’t Have to Panic When it Arrives.” At the time, I had hoped we would soon be saying goodbye to Covid-19. I hoped we would have learned to prevent future pandemics. But the virus is still with us and the latest variant is spreading around the world. I’m, by no means, an expert on viruses, but I’ve been helping people improve their sex and love lives for more than fifty years and I believe the virus has some things it can teach us.
I imagined having a heart-to-heart talk with the virus and wrote an article about what it might say to us. Here’s what the virus might teach us about sex, love, and survival:
Can we talk? You humans are always in such a rush, but lately, you’ve decided to stay at home more, though a lot of you want to head for your Sturgis motorcycle rally again, despite my recent Delta mutation. Maybe you’ll be a little more receptive to hearing me. I hope so, I’ve got a lot I’d like to get off my chest, I mean, if I had a chest. I may be small, but I’m mighty.
First, contrary to what many people believe, we’re not trying to wipe out humanity.
Most microbes are pro-life. Not only were we here long before humans, but humans wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for us. Don’t believe me? Listen to one of your own. Ed Yong is an award-winning science writer. If you really want to understand us you could do no better than to read his book, I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life. He also writes regular articles for the Atlantic Magazine.
The stereotype you’ve created about us would have people believe that all we do is cause diseases and are unwanted spreaders of pestilence. No wonder you try to avoid or kill us at all costs.
“This stereotype,” say Mr. Yong, “is grossly unfair. Most microbes are not pathogens. They do not make us sick.”
Second, I’m not responsible for your pandemics. That’s on you.
Listen, I know all you hear on the news is about the Covid-19 pandemic. You’d think that all we do is go around spreading disease. That just isn’t true. You should know that there were no pandemics for more than 99% of human history. They only became possible when human populations began to increase about 10,000 years ago and you began to abuse wild animals. You call it domestication. You built villages, then towns, and cities and began living in close proximity with animals that you kept locked up. And you created the conditions that create pandemics.
One of your experts on pandemics, Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, author of the book, Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs, says,
“By venturing into the microbes’ homes deep in rain forests, for logging, planting, and hunting for bushmeat; by concentrating large number of people together; by breeding millions and millions of pigs and poultry and keeping them in close confines; by overusing and misusing antimicrobial drugs, we humans are forcing microbes to adapt to continual stresses and giving them opportunities nature never did.”
Oh, and Dr. Osterholm also reminds you about the futility of trying to wipe us out.
“Eradicating this virus right now from the world is a lot like trying to plan the construction of a stepping-stone pathway to the Moon. It’s unrealistic. ”
Third, you humans are preoccupied with sex, but we’re a whole lot better at it than you are.
Viruses need other living things in order to reproduce. So, we’re not really “alive” in the way most other organisms are alive. We have to get into other cells in order to survive. We don’t invade other cells out of malice. Getting into host cells and using them to produce more viruses is our one and only way to survive. We don’t care if you’re a bacterium, a bird, a pig, or a human. We need you and you need us.
We’re very good at doing what we do. When there are so many humans on the planet and so many domesticated animals, you’re just begging us to get into your cells. You now have 24 billion chickens in the world and at least 2 billion pigs and you keep them locked up close to humans. When we spread one to another, don’t pretend that you’re surprised.
Fourth, I hate to tell you this, but it’s likely to get worse unless you change your ways.
You’ll probably recover from this pandemic, although if you continue to fight among yourselves and think that rich countries can keep your vaccines for yourselves while the poor peoples of the earth die, I seriously wonder whether you’ll survive this pandemic you’ve created.
But if you do survive this one, there will be others, I promise you. Here are a few reasons:
- You’ve got a thing for dead meat, particularly chickens and pigs. As long as you treat the other animals of the world poorly, you are bound to experience a rebound that will harm all you humans.
- You are changing the temperature balance of the planet that causes potential for new diseases.
- You imagine that you are separate from the rest of the natural world, that you can force the rest of life to bend to your will. Such hubris! But even your own historians are trying to get you to see the truth.
“We never knew enough,” says Thomas Berry, “Nor were we sufficiently intimate with all our cousins in the great family of the earth. Nor could we listen to the various creatures of the earth, each telling its own story. The time has now come, however, when we will listen or we will die.”
Fifth, your health-care system, as well as other systems your civilization is based upon, is weighted toward domination rather than true partnership.
One woman has been trying to explain the problem and the solution for a long time. Her name is Riane Eisler. In 1987 she wrote a ground-breaking book, The Chalice & The Blade: Our History, Our Future. More recently she wrote the book, Nurturing Our Humanity: How Domination and Partnership Shape Our Brains, Lives, and Future, with anthropologist Douglas P. Fry.
They call on humanity to recognize two systems on a continuum from domination to partnership. “On one end is the domination system that ranks man over man, man over woman, race over race, and man over nature. On the other end is a more peaceful, egalitarian, gender-balanced, and sustainable partnership system.”
There is still time to tip the balance toward partnership. Another woman who is leading the way has an intriguingly appropriate name, Charity Dean, M.D. She is a maverick medical doctor who saw your pandemic coming and tried to head it off and save lives. Her male-dominated system resisted the truth she was seeing.
You can read about Charity Dean and see the domination system and the partnership system in action in Michael Lewis’ book, The Premonition: A Pandemic Story. Your T.V. news show 60-Minutes profiled Dr. Dean and the other health-care truth-tellers who weren’t afraid to think outside the box and challenge the domination system. Take a look.
Bottom Line Take-Aways
When we confront the reality of what we are facing in the world, it is easy to become overwhelmed. We want to escape, we want to deny, we want to have a cold one, hope for the best and put our attention on other things. I believe most people want to hear the truth and can face reality if there are things they can do.
No one wants to face a reality where things are hopeless. I wouldn’t be writing articles every week if I thought there was nothing we could do. Here are a few things, I’d offer for your consideration:
- Take a deep breath and remind yourself that if you’re reading this you are alive and as long as you are alive there are things you can do.
- Take a break from major corporate media. Most of the media we see and listen to is not meant to inform us, but to get us to buy products. They know that fear sells and if they can get our attention and frighten us, we will buy more stuff.
- Expose yourself to truthful, but hopeful information. I have a community of subscribers at MenAlive.com where I share weekly articles and recommend people who I feel are making a difference in the world.
- You could know better than to check out Michael Lewis here.
- If you want to see what Dr. Charity Dean is doing now, check out The Public Health Company.
- Get out in nature, wherever you live. Learn from the birds, the trees, and animals. They have a lot to teach us.
- Remind yourself that you are alive at this time for a reason. Ask yourself what you feel drawn to saving on this beautiful planet we share. Find a way to protect and serve.
As always, your comments are appreciated.
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