“You must become an activist if you are going to live the natural life.” — Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
Lincoln Stoller, PhD, 2020. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) www.mindstrengthbalance.com
As an individual, your family is your constellation. Your two primary goals are safety and continuity. Safety means being free from illness, and continuity means being free to grow. Recognize that neither politics, media, or health care share these goals. In fact, they don’t even act to further them; they exist only to create a context that provides resources.
Politics wants your support and, for politicians, the goal is to stay in office. Healthcare wants to fulfill patient needs. Their goal is smooth operation. The media wants your attention. Their goal is to get it.
This is not cynicism; this is how it works, how it balances, and it does balance, more or less, when social forces remain within limits. But they’re not within limits now, and you should not be surprised that the system no longer meets your needs.
Science is hesitant. Politics is partisan. The media are sensational. Healthcare is a service. The virus is dangerous. Add these all together and you get a spectacle of sensational partisan services balanced by scientific hesitancy. There is a danger, but you won’t see it clearly by following either the media, the hospitals, or the politicians.
The honest media can’t tell you the truth because they have to tell a simple story aimed at a middle-school readership and, for the most part, it’s been so long since they’ve seen the truth that they no longer recognize it.
The honest politicians can’t tell you the truth because they’re beholden to the social good, and the social good does not address your need or your knowledge. At best, politicians protect the center of the flock, leaving the boundaries exposed; but, in a crisis, the boundary touches us all.
Hospitals can’t tell you the truth because they see you only as a potential patient. Like over-attentive parents, they focus only on your safety, and they see only that part of the population that needs their help.
The truth emerges slowly. It’s not in any hurry and those who advocate it do not shout from the rooftops. The truth is not necessarily certain, so don’t look to science to declare it. It consists more of clues than conclusions. As a truth-seeker, you must recognize that different people have different truths: the healthcare worker, the politician, the business owner, the worker, the elder, the college student. Each is impacted differently, and has different goals, obligations, and risks.
There is no one truth that fits all, but there is one truth that no group will inform or announce, and that’s your truth. You must be your own detective and come to your own conclusions.
Your safety is very different from social safety. As far as you’re concerned, you are not a statistic. As far as they are concerned, that’s all you are. For example, elections, vaccines, and public education are designed to further social goals, not personal ones. They may succeed at one—fortifying society—and fail at the other—damaging your family—and still meet the goals for which they are designed.
With regard to now, you want to know how safe you are, not how safe the population is. That requires a new variable, one you won’t see mentioned in the papers, by healthcare, or by politicians—and that is your particular situation.
I’ll assume you are either in the group that consists of healthy children, youths, parents, workers, and retired elders or you are someone who has a pre-existing illness or weakened health. I was surprised to find the relative sizes of these two groups are largely uncertain, with the healthy group being anywhere from four times larger than the unhealthy group to being of equal size. That’s a huge uncertainty.
Two things that are being either hidden or misreported are the means of infection and the percentage of those infected who display symptoms. We are told to focus on transmission by touching and transmission by those who are showing symptoms. I strongly doubt surface contact is the main mode of transmission or that those showing symptoms are the main threat.
If this is the case, then all those pictures of workers in facemasks and hazmat suits are of people who are not protected, nor are you protected from them. They are lowering their viral load, and so lowering the speed at which they become infected or symptomatic; but they’re not stopping the infection nor their own progression to becoming agents of transmission.
The masks and suits will make these people less transmissible, but they are already infected. If you’ve ever used face masks of various sorts, then you’ll know that only a respirator offers protection against airborne contagion; see: “Virus Transfer from Personal Protective Equipment to Healthcare Employees’ Skin and Clothing.” The N95 “respirator” that we hear about is hardly a respirator in real terms; it’s hardly effective as such under the front-line multiple-use of donning and doffing, and the persistently contagious conditions that we have, here.
It’s becoming more evident—but still generally suppressed—that many are infected, show no symptoms, and are contagious nonetheless. It’s not clear if these people can be effectively tested. From experience in my own community, from individuals and unofficial lab results in Seattle, and from anecdotal reports from New York, there is no single, clear symptom of being infected with COVID-19. Rather, there are a wide range of symptoms of being infected that most likely include, in what might be the majority of cases, no symptoms at all.
I live in a separated household. My son travels back and forth between me and his mother twice a week. She and I spend little time in each other’s presence, but my son is in close contact with us both, so I’m sure we share all diseases. In spite of this, we don’t all display the same symptoms even after accounting for the delays in transmission.
In the latest case, I started running a fever before anyone in my family. I could have caught it from outside but, whether I caught it from or gave it to my son, my son has it. And from him, his mother has it, too. Yet they show no symptoms, while I’m now on day five recovering from a mild fever.
I can’t be sure this is COVID-19, but whatever it is, it demonstrates that not everyone who gets a virus shows symptoms. Whether contagious people can be asymptomatic is another question, but, given the rapid spread of COVID-19 well before cases started being confirmed, it appears that it is.
If you are healthy, COVID-19 is not a significant threat. This is not being said by any of the three vocal groups—politicians, media, or healthcare providers—because they need your attention and support. They know that people, in general, won’t sacrifice for the public good unless they feel threatened. They need to frighten you so that you’ll follow directions.
If you can act for the social good without being stampeded into doing so, then you should not feel frightened. It will further your personal and family needs if you are not frightened, and you’ll be better able to support your social obligations.
I understand that many people, perhaps most, have what you might call “a weak social conscience,” which means they’ll act from a high degree of self-interest. If you are one of these people, then you should be afraid.
One of the reasons I moved to Canada was because there is a higher level of social consciousness, but it is still not so high that all decisions are well-made and socially responsible. Institutional interests, though somewhat less than in the US, still dominate the Canadian landscape. In the US, those with a strong social conscience are in a smaller minority.
I assume I’m speaking to a socially conscious reader/listener who understands that while COVID-19 may not threaten them individually, it may threaten their social and economic context. This is one of those cases where individual and social needs are intertwined.
It should be obvious that the news lacks the numbers we need. The numbers of infected, hospitalized, or dead are not useful to us. We cannot infer anything from them. As Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg usefully reveals, the data is poor and untrustworthy but, more than that, it has not been revealed.
What we do know is that those with pre-existing illnesses constitute an entirely separate group. They suffer a mortality rate elevated by a factor of 100. Where COVID-19 can sicken healthy people—and we still don’t know how often it does this—it kills unhealthy people. You may be in the unhealthy group, or someone in your family may be. In that case, you must consider your family, as a group, to be at risk.
There is no cure yet, which makes me wonder just how hard people are looking. Medical progress is notoriously slow. There is no latitude for experimentation, and no discoveries without it. Doctors and hospitals discover nothing, as that’s not what they’re there to do. So who is looking? Anyone?
We have few defenses against viruses, but many against bacteria. We’re told the SARS-Cov-2 virus causes the COVID-19 disease, but the COVID-19 disease appears to come in a wide variety of forms—so many, in fact, that it may be many things.
The 1918 Spanish Flu infected 30% of the world and killed 3% of the world’s population. That amounted to 50 million deaths world-wide. That percentage today would be 200 million dead. But it turns out it was not the Spanish Flu that killed these people. It’s not clear if the Spanish Flu actually killed anybody, because everybody, according to what’s now known, suffered separate, bacterial infections. The flu took down our defenses, but it was our reaction to the bacteria that seems to have killed us.
And where did the bacteria come from? They live in your nose, and they’re living there now! Pneumococcus, staphylococcus, and streptococcus all normally live in your nose, and we can kill them with antibiotics. But they didn’t have antibiotics in 1918; penicillin wasn’t discovered until 1928.
If you think science is going to save you from COVID-19, then you should be aware that none of the voices you hear speak for science. Neither politicians, the media, nor doctors discover anything. How about we take these people by the seats of their pants and kick them in the right direction? We don’t have time to wait for this to happen by itself.
I’ve recorded a piece called “Unwinding the Negative,” a guided visualization to finding a more relaxed and empowered attitude. An affirmation that you have power and that you are safe. Listen to this piece to become grounded and goal-oriented. This link will take you to a webpage where you can purchase the MP3 at no cost. A link to it will then be emailed to you.