Viruses as a vector for change
My teacher describes all disease as an opportunity for change. I heard someone else described coronavirus as mother earth putting us all in a time-out to think about what we've done. I think they're both perfect explanations of where humanity is today. I frequently describe pain to my patients as the body saying, "if you're not going to stop and deal with [insert issue here], then I'm going to force you to." If we are to be totally honest with ourselves, humanity as a whole has been ignoring several issues that can no longer be ignored. So, here we are, forced to stop and deal with our reality by a pandemic. What a perfect time to re-evaluate and welcome change.
When treating almost any condition, I frequently hear people say, "I just want to go back to the way I was." Why? Would you really want to go back to old way you were coping with your issues? That wasn't solving them. If it was then you wouldn't be in my office. Why go back when you can adapt, evolve, grow stronger and move forward? To go back is to to reject change, and that can only lead us to death. And I mean that both spiritually and physically. When we contract a virus, our immune system must adapt fast and make the changes necessary to survive. If our immune system doesn't learn how to stop the virus from replicating, we die. When you look at how western medicine address viruses, our most effective weapons are vaccines. According to the CDC. "Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection. This type of infection, however, almost never causes illness, but it does cause the immune system to produce...antibodies." In other words, vaccines use the virus to teach us how to adapt but in a safer environment. Some viruses can be treated using antiviral drugs. However, antiviral drugs are used for specific viral infections, and we don't have one yet for COVID-19. Therefore, there is no treatment. Our only option at this time is to learn and adapt. WE MUST CHANGE.
When we look at the bigger picture of humanity's position, it's clear that our old ways are not working anymore. Consider our political climate, for example. Our president's entire campaign was to "Make America Great Again!" To go back to the way of life that made America the world power that she once was. Not a bad idea at first glance. But when you really think about it, if all of those decisions then, lead us to where we are today, where do you think we will end up if we make those decisions again? You guessed it. Right where we are now. Maybe not with another pandemic, but perhaps by some other world-shattering event that will send us directly to jail without passing Go or collecting $200. If we wish to advance our society, WE MUST CHANGE.
We may not see it behind the heavy shroud of doom and gloom, but these changes are already happening and having a beautiful effect. Though COVID-19 is forcing us apart physically, it's emotionally bringing us closer together. It's teaching us to reconnect with our families. We've become more considerate of our loved ones and our neighbors, and are thinking of others before ourselves. You can find people everywhere working together as a community to support and protect each other. Staying home is teaching us to reconsider what we truly need, not what overconsumption tells us we need. Air pollution, considered to be a leading global health concern, has decreased after only a few weeks of isolation. If we keep this up we could prevent an estimated 4.5 million excess deaths worldwide. And the constant bombardment of information? That's teaching us to think for ourselves, to inquire deeper and find the truth instead of blindly following what "they say."
Sometimes (and we've all been there), the only way for someone to truly learn their lesson is for them to experience something that's so impactful it changes their lives. This virus is scary, but it's true impact is a lesson to change how we interact with each other and the world around us. This virus is changing our lives and providing us with an opportunity to evolve. What will you do?