It’s been a long time since humanity faced a microbial enemy of such voracious abilities. In my life time AIDS was the the big chiller that stopped the free love of my youth dead in it’s tracks. I stood outside bars with pamphlets and condoms. Some of us tried to educate. There was a lot of loss. Gay men dropped like flies. Those who got got blood infusions died… those who had sex died. It was tragic and scary. Then there was the ignorant violence of those who defend their hate in God’s name. That period of time in my life would shape my thoughts about Covid-19…. I think if you have not experienced catastrophic loss or felt the helplessness of not knowing any where to turn… or even trust… being ostracized. You might not get how quickly a virus can become a social tsunami of the unmanageable and show the weaknesses of a society.
Through out the early period of AIDS there was wildly inaccurate information and speculation. It was cruel and criminal. It brought out the absolute worst in some people. There was also a growing movement to raise awareness and figure out a cure. There were a lot of false hopes, dead ends, and eventually successes. Almost 40 years later AIDS is no longer a death sentence. We have come to a manageable point of social responsibility and medical intervention.
Covid-19 is pushing all the same social buttons of fear, distrust, hate, compassion, etc… It is also an extremely fast evolving virus. Which constantly changes the rules as we try to stay ahead of it. Like AIDS we are going to have to stop blaming/denying/politicizing and commit to a unified focus to stop the viral spread. Unlike AIDS we are not given the grace of time and because it is an air born pathogen it will always have the upper hand in how it moves through people and populations. People resisted wearing condoms to stop AIDS for all kinds of excuses related to ignorance and selfish reasons. Until it affected them directly. All the same kinds of arguments are being made about masks…. social distancing…. this is putting an huge strain on our Healthcare systems. To the point of near collapse. The phobias and resistance surrounding vaccines is discouraging and allowing the virus to get better at mutation in order to survive.
As I’m writing this I feel sad, angry and perplexed a the nature of those who continue to look at the situation and (I’m not including those with medical exceptions, those can’t get the vaccine because of age or other legitimate reasons) have decided to just let others die or get very sick.
Plagues are a social disease. They attack the systems, structures and the social order of things because it has found the weaknesses that will be exploited for their survival.
The way this virus is going we are going to be in this for a long time. To put it bluntly that means getting real about it and stop thinking it going to end and we all go back to our lives. Because we’re not. Plagues are like that they reshape populations and redefine social norms. Look at the Black Plague, leprosy, small pox to name just a few. Our survival depends on it. If we continue to adapt and find the ways to fight this virus then we have options based on the reality of how this virus is.
People didn’t stop having sex because of AIDS they learned how to have safer sex.
I encourage you to get vaccinated. Wear a mask and do what will change the course of this virus. We have done this before. We can do this.
I just saw a picture of Mount Shasta without snow. It look oddly small and not like the majestic peak I remember towering over the landscape. The snow gave it that other worldly presence as it stood above the surrounding mountains. It felt sacred. Mystical.
It’s more than just snow. This is the source of rivers and streams that feed the ground and nourish the land. Without this life giving resource the area will feel the growing trauma of drought that is now becoming increasingly normal in this once lush region of California. And with this ecological imbalance comes fire. We are witnessing an environmental alchemy of transformation. We are not sure the results… but things will be very different… and difficult.
I know many who are part of the movements to save water. Water is life – Life is water. We chant. We drum. We stand to face the polluters. We advocate for water as a human right. We protest. Get arrested. Pray. Over and over…. yet the waters keep disappearing. The land dries. The climate becomes more volatile. As the oceans warm up the patterns of weather shift rains and heat to different places. We are now in the change. The earth is adapting to her chemistry. She rolls with it. She knows what to do and will adjust to continue.
We need to stop thinking we can fix this in the naive way we are doing it. It’s not ours to fix in someways that boat left a long time ago. What remains within our abilities is to start adapting and living more in alignment with the earth changes. That doesn’t mean we give up our advancements but we do use them to guide us in better efficiency and actions. This can be utilized in designing homes, infrastructures, conservation, and agriculture. It also means migrations to place where there are the resources to survive and build to thrive in a more symbiotic way with the earth.
Life is is precious and durable. That is why this planet remains that blue dot in the universe. We have water. A life giving resource that will continue to define the direction of this planet.
The body is shaking the yoke of it’s sleepy mind. Blinking eyes see the light and squint at the truth. The harsh landscapes like bad dreams smoldering and devastated solidify in the reality of the day. Waking up is the call to action. Driven by the rooted fibers that pull and stretch to play a sound that shivers the cells…. Our dreams can not save us. Our sinews and bones, breath… beating heart…..The earth calls us from the dream time that we have binged on for so long it hurts to feel our blood flow.
It’s looking like we are going back in to a form of lock down again. Those tiny microscopic viruses are playing a long game. I just checked the latest map. Not good. I am vaccinated and will continue to distance and mask. I can’t help but think this is a about deep cathartic change. Last year we named the shadows of oppression, the violence against people of color, the inequities between classes, the vulnerabilities of essential works and their subpar pay…. We saw the rich get very rich and the poor stuck in a waiting game of bureaucracy and failing infrastructure not meant for the shear volumes of people in need.
This time around with covid feels different. The lines drawn are strangely and not surprising between those who trust science/medicine and those who don’t. There is a measure of religious beliefs and cult like fundamentalism that thinks a man who died violently 2,000 plus years ago will save them from this….. or there are the ones willing to inhale peroxide…. or live in a bubble of this is all a hoax.
We humans have been here before. We get here every time we over populate, start running out of resources/water and drown in our own garbage and sewerage. This is the weird dark side of a successful species. Look around it is us now. It’s bad. There are very clear divisions in ideologies in how to handle this. The virus seems to be winning as we argue freedom over collaboration and cooperation. There is no winner to this end game. Bezo’s magic bus to the edge of space isn’t even a rich person’s ticket out of here.
We are so afraid of not being seen or having relavence that we hang onto our labels and identifying quanitfiers…. as if a name could bring a change or save us from our selves….
The deep mystery… the initiations that transformed the ages of humans as they grew up in the service of their communities all over the world. These are key to understanding the collective evolution that needs to happen. Intiation is about death… Both ceremonially symbolic and being brought to the place where we thinking we are going to die. This is the death of who we think we are. We walk through a threshold that delineates before and after.The change is the fundamental core shaking earthquake that puts your being in the realization that you could die and you have to choose life/living or death…. and you choose to live even if you have no idea what that means. You walk away from everything into nothing… you float without identity… you have no connections… you might hear your voice for the first time….
As a global society we are in this collective movement to find meaning after years of consumerism, addiction, self preservation, polluting resources, denying people rights and dignity….. We are facing climate induced migration and water/food shortages… we are looking at it…. and no amount of money, power, nationalism, gender diversity or keeping things the same will change what is happening.
Every day we get the chance to choose to either live voraciously in the service of creating a kinder better world or dying…
Microbes are adaptable. They have over the millions of years that they have been here on this planet learned ways to thrive and hibernate in every ecology and life form. We can wake them up out of a frozen tundra slumber or find them in the gut of a worm. There are more of them then us and they are not impressed with our evolutionary discoveries or interested in our feelings. Microbes want to live. They are the embodiment of life force. They know how to win the survival game. They do it with impunity and the stealth design of their size and shear numbers. Our thumbs are no match for them. Our brains can find ways to evade them through science and medicine… but in the end they are always winning.
I’m not going to get into the weeds of vaccines here. The science has been presented and we know that this variety of Covid-19 is deadly. And like all things that are shocking to the human psyche it has divided us into those familiar camps of “acceptance” and “resistance”. These camps have a spectrum of responses, beliefs and even violence. Which in the end aids the microbes to find the weak points to thrive. The microbes unify, develope genetcally strategies and shape-shifting to plunder our species…. and we argue the virtues of humanities higher achievements and the men and women who have devoted their lives to probe deep into what, where and how of these tiny creatures.
We divide and take sides and act like its a soccer game. With all the fundamental nationalism and pride rolled into fever fanatic mob violence. One side will win. One side is the better…. the tribalism of finding a like minded group that embodies the same fears, anger and ideas. Then echo it out over and over like gospel. When in reality if we use ball to represent the virus, it doesn’t give a crap about who is kicking it. It’s design and shape moves it across the field. It plays in the stadium of life. It remains the same but occasionally gets an upgrade in materials to perform better. The games rules remain the same mostly. The players come and go the fans shift sides and teams in response to their personal need for meaning and relevance. The ball remains the constant while changing every thing around it.
That is the brilliance of their evolutionary intelligence….