Truth & Claims
————by Jesse Wolf Hardin———
The intense level of misinformation, paranoia and fear mongering in the news and social media leads me to want to rake away at least some of the B.S. that’s fast piling up in the stall. As usual, it’s not “all good,” as that modern saying goes, and there are definitely things to be concerned about if not prepared for. This Ebola outbreak is going to be yet another extremely tragic event, but it is not going to be the defining tragedy of our time. And tragic is the tendency to tell ourselves and others comforting lies, and our sometimes sad ability to believe them.
The Claim: I hear people saying Ebola isn’t going to be an issue in America because of our amazing health care system, and excellent personal hygiene… what’s the truth?
The Truth: That claim is nonsense for a number of reasons. Of course Ebola will become an increasing problem here as it will elsewhere in the world, and there could end up being cases in the hundreds or even thousands in this country before things stabilize.
Note that the United States health system is far less just, accessible, and effective than that of many countries around the world, including the impoverished and demonized nation of Cuba. The U.S. model has made possible a monopolistic pharmaceutical paradigm where drug reactions and physician error are the leading cause of deaths. And before we think of Americans as superior for being “cleaner” than the primitive Africans in the affected countries, we should note that it is partly the use of antimicrobial soaps, body products and bathroom cleaners in the homes and hospitals of “developed” countries that has brought about the many evolving new strains of antibiotic and chemical resistant pathogens.
Ebola is dangerous, and we can never be 100% safe from it. But then, so it is with the cars that nearly everyone here owns and uses. We are never secure from these multi-ton speeding vestibules or the sometimes entirely oblivious people who pilot them, and yet we regularly drive amongst them at high speeds. Ideally, we make sure that we’re actively aware and paying as much attention as we are capable of, wear a seat belt (if we can stand the constraint), and make certain that our brakes are in good working order, taking reasonable and prudent steps to improve our odds of avoiding a wreck… but without the reported rates of deadly car accidents and their technicolor horrors making us too obsessed and too afraid to get behind the wheel when needed.
The Claim: On the other hand, some say that this could be the outbreak that threatens the future survival all of humanity.
The Truth: Pathogenic microorganisms are indeed the greatest future threat to human civilization, and possibly to the survival of our species as well. Our exploitation and destruction of the natural environment affects our health and could eventually spell our extinction, but not for a very long time – and not before we have laid waste to the Earth’s ecosystems and killed off most of its complex life forms. Deadly confrontation – including between Moslem and non-Moslem populations – will continue to help define the human experience for so long as we walk this planet, and yet, even the bloodiest wars tend to reduce dangerously high world populations by only a relatively small amount, while being almost always followed by a huge spike in births.
That said, it is unlikely to be untreatable Ebola that impacts the average American’s family and lives, let along that brings down the human colossus.
Microorganisms are indeed a far more likely threat to one of two kinds:
1. Antibiotic resistant “super-bugs” resulting from contemporary dirtless, antiseptic lifestyles; the excessive prescribing of antibiotics for nearly every imaginable symptom; and the standard preventive (not curative) dosing of the farm animals most of us eat. If Ebola proves untreatable, at least this deadly disease was probably not a direct product of our negligence, stupidity and greed as in the case of the every more dangerous “super bugs” we as a society beget.
2. Genetically engineered microbes, engineered in labs either to deliberately create weaponized bacteria and viruses for military purposes, or else to study and perhaps predict their behavior, virulence, and possible adaptations. In either case, there is nothing science fiction about the scenario of a protocol not being followed, leading to a pathogens escape. Or of someone unleashing it either accidentally or deliberately, in the commission of a criminally or politically motivated act.
At this point, the odds are far more likely that you will die from one of the thousands of other known deadly diseases and conditions found in the doctors’ books, with cigarette and diet related diseases topping the list… not to mention workplace accidents and getting electrocuted in the tub.
The Claim: So if it’s not likely to be a huge threat to most Americans, there is nothing to fear.
The Truth: We don’t need to act out of fear in this life, but the truth is that there is always much to realistically be afraid of! We often use God, the promises of technology, the distraction of the superficial, or whistling in the dark, to reassure us or take our minds off of that which threatens us. Rather than walk around in constant (and consequently unhealthy) state of fear, creatures in the real, natural world, exist in a state of awareness, in a condition of constant assessment. Unlike us humans, they save their flight response for when trouble is nigh. They appear to have no time to give to distant or extrapolated dangers.
The Claim: But as some critics of modern civilization have said, this outbreak could expand to the point that it brings about the collapse of the established system.
The Truth: Outbreaks initially strengthen the system, as the population seeks to be made safe and secure.
The Claim: What if I say it’s all a hoax, perpetrated by the government?
The Truth: The real hoax is the entrenched idea that our government has our best interest in mind. As for Ebola, if you don’t believe that the problem is real, you could try volunteering at a rural African field hospital without a protective suit.
The Claim: Some say Ebola was actually released or spread by some government agency, in order to create conditions that would justify the declaration of martial law.
The Truth: The reality is that even the most oppressive or nefarious governments are still composed of human beings, who have will likely always prove to be far less effective at provoking and orchestrating events than they are at preparing to exploit events when they happen. The proponents of increased government supervision and control of the populous did not have to arrange for Al Qaida to bring down the Twin Towers in order to have the pretext they needed to gut the Bill of Rights, they only needed to seize the opportunity when events made Americans most insecure and anxious for security and protection.
Likewise, there is almost no chance that ours or any other government intentionally introduced this disease… but various governments including our own will most certainly take advantage of this situation and our fearful condition to sink its claws further into us. Quarantines, whether of individuals or an entire infected city, are the ultimate abridgment of civil rights and personal liberties, confinement enforced by either the police or the federal army. The scariest things about Ebola or any other disastrous epidemic, may be the increased control and oppression that such a situation makes possible and even acceptable.
The Claim: Then before we’re controlled, we just need to get the disease under control.
The Truth: In the truest sense, we don’t ever control disease. At best we avoid it, contain it, manage it, or contend with it and learn from it.
The Claim: I read on a Natural Health site that you won’t catch it, if you regularly eat your fruits and vegetables.
The Truth: Good nutrition is very important to a strong immune system and the overall ability to repel or heal from infections. Depending on our food to save us from all infections is foolhardy to say the least.
The Claim: There must be herbs that can arrest the progress of Ebola.
The Truth: At this point there is no known plant that can cure or halt Ebola. And the anxiousness to believe in undemonstrated cures is in itself unhealthy, diverting us from any realistic measures that we might be able to take to lessen the chances of contracting it, and distracting us from both our important tasks/roles and the enjoyment of each lived moment.
It’s also unreasonable to expect plants to literally “cure” of “fix” what’s wrong with us. The way herbs work is by aiding the bodies own attempts at self regulation and balance, through stimulation, relaxation, modulation, etc. Even when herbs are able to work visible wonders, they do so by initiating adjustments of our various bodily and healing processes, not by “battling” disease. The responsibility for our health should be borne on our own shoulders, and not be laid upon the slender shoulders of the plants. Herbs are allies that we can wisely involve in the work of helping our bodies to heal themselves, just one of many ways that we can tend ourselves as we assume/resume responsibility and make make the necessary efforts to take care of ourselves.
The Claim: What about the common assertion that no good can come from an outbreak like this, no matter what its cause?
The Truth: No disease, challenge or travail is without potential benefits. Whether or not we learn to treat or contain Ebola, it could be instrumental in exposing the lies of officials, exposing the lie that technology and science have the quick fix for all that ails us and our society. We can damn sure learn from it to reconsider the often harmful modern medical system, to question authority, be vigilant against this or any other outbreak being used to justify policies and laws that decrease our liberties and foster greater government monitoring and control of its citizens. We can – by understanding there are things outside of our control – reclaim some of the humility that enabled our ancient ancestors to function in this world without doing quite so much damage to it. Thanks to the issues the emergence of Ebola has raised, we have an opportunity to take further responsibility for our own health and well being, change how we look at the world and how we behave, alter our lifestyles and habits to better serve our fullest and wholest living.
And yes, Ebola – like any mortal threat – can be a valuable reminder of the finite nature of existence, or the preciousness of every second, and the value of our using those vital seconds to good things, beautiful things, loving things.
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