Samuel Claiborne Co-Creative Healing Newsletter - March, 17, 2020 - Covid-19 Special Edition
3/17/20 Hello from Quarantine!
This is a long-overdue special report on my thoughts on Covid-19, for what they're worth, and my best synthesis of what you can to do protect and care for yourself and others, and an analysis of how and why we got here.
There will be three parts to this article, and it's a lot, and the situation is moving so rapidly, that some of the more news-oriented information will be out of date soon, but I hope you find time over the next few days to at least scan the entire thing, because there's some good stuff in here!
Part I: an apology
First of all, I want to apologize, for several reasons:
This is going to be a long article – but I hope you read it through.
I am giving the best advice I can give at this moment, but that will probably change over time. In fact, conditions, biological, social, and political, have changed drastically since I started writing this a few days ago. What might have seemed impossible last Tuesday is now facts on the ground today.
But the biggest apology is too large, and too important for a bullet point: I want to apologize to you because I’ve been screaming about this pandemic to my family and a few friends, and on a limited way on Facebook, for two solid months, but I haven’t shared my feelings and findings with all of you.
Why? Because I was called ‘a lunatic’ and told I ‘needed therapy’ on Facebook, because friends gave me all kinds of grief, and because it appeared to me that even my own family thought I was being, shall we say, a little dramatic.
I am dramatic, and passionate, and a worrier, and even a bit of a hypochondriac, so I began to doubt myself. But, alas, it turns out that my prognostications were too mild, in fact. Even I could not properly wrap my mind around what I saw unfolding.
Less than 24 hours ago, a dear friend was chiding me sternly for ‘sowing panic’ on Facebook. Now he realizes that my fervor wasn’t meant to sow panic, but to shock people out of their complacency, and to educate them to take this seriously, get informed, take steps, up their game, immediately.
So, here were are… The world has caught up with me – or, more properly, it’s caught up with the brilliant people I was reading and listening to, and conversing with.
I will have a full discussion of the scope of the problem below the next section, which is on what you can do for yourself and your loved ones, but be aware: I’m discussing scary things at times. I’m trying to do it as calmly and clinically as possible, but I’m also trying to wake people up, because I am still seeing a lot of complacency, and a lot of misinformation out there. So consider this a trigger warning: there is some upsetting stuff here, but there is also some hopefulness!
But first, let’s talk about what you can do to mitigate your chances of getting this disease, and, should you get it, mitigating its effects so that you can avoid becoming seriously ill.
Part II: My Advice, for what it’s worth
OK, so, we’re in a very scary place. A place the globe has not been in since 1918, and in some ways better (massive improvements in medicine and genetic and bio-molecular knowledge), and in some ways worse (way more population, widespread high speed travel by jet), than the situation in 1918. So, what do we do?
Well, first of all, know that there is stuff you can do! I would say that my advice generally falls into two categories: reducing potential exposure to the virus, and (re)building your immune system.
But first, some disclaimers:
There is so much conjecture and snake oil about (the Odious huckster-preacher, Jim Bakker, has just been legally enjoined from selling his colloidal silver supplement as a ‘cure’ for this virus, for example), but I commit to you that I will give you some sober, reasoned advice, and that I am not selling anything,
Although I am a research-crazy science geek, and a healer, and I have often proven doctor’s wrong, I am not a doctor. In fact, I never even graduated from college. I am self-taught in the ways of research, and science. My healing abilities, I was born with, though I’ve learned modalities along the way to increase my arsenal, as it were. The rest derives from my obsessive and curious nature, which compels me to research just about everything.
So, I’m not a doctor, and I am not prescribing anything, just giving suggestions, suggestions I’ve largely gleaned from the published material of others, and in conversations with healers, herbalists, homeopaths, researchers, and MDs.
Some of these people are super far out of the mainstream, others are in direct consultations with the C.D.C. In my opinion, they all offer thoughtful opinions.
I want to be VERY careful. Giving the wrong advice can get people killed. An example: a recent Facebook post, purported to be from Stanford University, give out comically-absurd medical advice, but medical advice that could lead to a surge of people running to their doctors practically at first cough, which is precisely the wrong thing to do in a pandemic.
Mother Jones published an article that shows that Stanford disavows any connection to the bogus Facebook post, and dissects the claims in the original post. But, the saddest thing is, in this age of atomized truth, disinformation, fake news, and conspiracy theories, and because of Belief Perseverance, although I have pointed out to several people that their emails, texts, or Facebook posts purporting this story are false, and shown then the inculpatory evidence, it doesn’t matter! People are wedded to their views, and also suspicious of anything that contradicts them – even when it’s as cut-and-dried as Stanford directly stating: this is not true. Here is the article, as reported by Mother Jones, refuting the bogus Facebook post that’s making the rounds:
So, know that this is the best advice I’ve gleaned from responsible sources, and that my advice will probably change over time as we learn more about this virus, and, possibly, as the virus mutates.
This virus is a member of the Corona Virus family, which, I believe, is the most genetically complex of all virus families. More genetic material to copy when the virus replicates, means more chance for copying errors.
Side note: On the subject of supplements of all kinds, I’m trying to synthesize what I know, because I find this odd tendency of the vitamins and minerals crowd to mostly only recommend only vitamins and minerals, the herbal crowd to mostly recommend herbs, and the same for the fungi crowd. They’re all good, and, at best, can work magic synergistically. And, given that Western medicine has no means at present to cure Covid-19, beefing up the immune system seems to be the best way to ward it off, and to mitigate its effects if one becomes infected.
In fact, I’ll go farther: with vaccine-resistant viruses ever-mutating and learning new tricks, and more and more bacteria becoming antibiotic resistant (due partially to massive overuse and abuse of antibiotics, as well as the fact that all things evolve to work around barriers), working on our own immune systems, which will involve more and more use and promulgation of the old wisdom of plants, herbs, and fungi, seems to me to be the wave of the future.
Western Medicine has already largely failed to offer true healing from some pathogens like Lyme, while herbs and other treatments have shown far more efficacy, often also being much gentler on the system.
But nothing is a panacea, which is why I incorporate a lot of western thought, eastern thought, and indigenous thought into my own work. No one modality, or practitioner, has all the answers. And if a practitioner, guru, whatever, says they do, run, don’t walk, away from them!
OK, advice breaks down into several areas:
Mindfulness – meditation
Vitamins and Minerals
Social Distancing, Quarantine… and Community
This virus appears to be very durable on inanimate surfaces, perhaps surviving for several days. I am not a germ-phobe by nature. I was brought up think that exposure to germs increased one’s health by increasing one’s immunity.
Consequently, I am not particularly obsessed with wiping things down, but I’m trying to change that! So, wipe down anything you touch in or from the ‘outside world’. Be paranoid.
Articles say that your Amazon package, and your package from China are safe. Well, maybe. Assuming that nothing made it alive after the long trip (which is sometimes not so long – I’ve ordered from Amazon and sometimes gotten my package the same day). But your mail delivery person, or Amazon delivery person (or takeout food delivery person, for that matter) could have sneezed in their vehicle, covering your delivery in a fine aerosol containing virus particles.
You see, we probably already have several hundred thousand to over a million Americans carrying this virus – because it’s been circulating, largely undetected, in the USA, since January. So, I have a spray bottle of diluted bleach (I do1/2 cup, added to enough water to produce a gallon, stronger than the government guidelines of 1/3 cup), but 70% alcohol will do too. I spray it on my mail. I spray it on my Amazon packages, and then I spray the package that’s inside the package, because the person in the warehouse could have been sick when they packed it - remember: tons of young people who are contagious show no symptoms. Then I feel I can open it. Of course, I wash my hands after carrying it as well.
As to gloves, I have mixed feelings: yes, it’s another layer of protection, but it also means more potentially contaminated stuff to deal with. If I wash my hands right away, without touching anything else, after carrying a package, I believe I solve the problem.
Of course, it’s easy to wash your hands improperly, potentially putting virus particles on whatever your sink uses to turn on and off the water, and elsewhere, so, my herbalist, Jen Costa has posted a fantastic video on the simple process of doing it right (and she ought to know – not only is she a gifted herbalist, she’s also a nurse).
I also think gloves present a false sense of security, because you’re not in direct contact, so you then yank open your door, potentially spreading the virus to your doorknob, etc. etc., ad infinitum. Others will disagree and say that gloves are a must (I do think they are a must if you have an open wound on your hand). Do your own research so you can make an informed decision.
This virus primarily enters the body through the eyes, nose, and mouth. And we touch our faces all the time, so often we’re rarely aware of it. So, if you must interact with others and you can't keep a safe distance (more on this later), I advise wearing a mask and goggles, preferably goggles without air vents, so that if someone sneezes on you, the droplets do not get into your eyes.
We can argue the efficacy of masks all day: there are varying qualities of masks, and varying filtering capacities, but one thing’s for sure: if you’re wearing a mask (or even a scarf), you ain’t going to be touching your mouth or nose easily.
I understand that N95 type masks are best reserved for medical personnel, and are incredibly short supply. I do not think it’s ethical to buy them at this time unless you yourself are showing respiratory symptoms of Covid-19 (or the flu, for that matter). I didn’t buy any, though I did have some left over that I brought to Burning Man to give out as emergency masks during dust storms.
What I also had left over from Burning Man was a Respro Ultralight mask, which has a .3 micron filter, as good or better as an N95 mask, in terms of filtration, and with a replaceable filter that lasts for 60 hours, compared to something like 6-8 hours of an N95, and gives way better droplet protection, as long as it fits you properly (but that’s true for any mask).
I now also have a Respro Cinchro mask, which fits me even better (guys, shave your beards OFF, and then shave often – it makes for a much better fit!), and uses the same replaceable filters. Oh, and I personally believe that these filters, because they’re fabric-based, and therefore are physically very robust, unlike N95 filters, can also be hand-washed (after baking or microwaving to kill pathogens), and re-used, although the activated carbon portion of the filter (something N95 masks don’t even have) will lose effect over time.
Respros, like all masks, are probably in short supply right now, but they will get more in stock soon. There are also some good competitors, and some not so good ones. The Respro masks have proprietary filters, of several types. And, very importantly, have two exhaust valves, which make exhaling much easier. Check out competitors carefully – are their filters rated to the same particle sizes? Do they have two exhaust valves? Again, do your own research and make your decisions accordingly.
And just to point out the obvious, unless you're in a full hazmat suit with independent air supply, or in total quarantine (not even touching your mail), nothing is fool proof, so don't be foolhardy.
Several foods have strong anti-biotic and anti-viral compounds. Here are some you should eat:
All of these are great in soups and curries too!
Here are some foods you should avoid:
Sugar! Refined carbs injure the immune system.
‘White’ foods – foods made with processed grains, like bread, cake etc., pretty much do the same.
Intermittent fasting: eating during an 8 hour period per day is good – less time and energy spent digesting means more energy for healing if you’re sick, and building up your defenses if you’re not.
HYDRATE!!!!!!!!! The marvelous Jen Costa harangues me: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! (I, like many healers, tend to be much more alert about taking care of others than myself. As they say: “we teach what we most need to learn”).
So: drink more than you want to! Drink early, all day, and often. Drink in the middle of the night – who cares if you have to get up to pee – I always love the feeling of getting back into a warm bed and under the covers after a 2 am piss, LOL.
Moderate exercise (outdoors, if possible) is great for the immune system, and for the psyche. No weights? No worries: google “body weight strength training”. No indoor bike or elliptical, and it’s too yucky outside to walk, hike, or bike? Climb stairs.
It’s hard right now, with all of this scary stuff. We’re all being whiplashed by massive rapid changes. So, look at the news in the morning and if possible, don’t look at it again. In researching this, I’m looking at the news, and research materials, constantly, and it’s upping my stress level, and ruining my sleep.
After I publish this, I’m following my own advice: Watch very little news, instead watch a comedy, or read something funny, sweet, or comforting before bed, it’s the best way to get into a relaxed, sleepy frame of mind.
And remember: alcohol is also rough on the immune system, and, while it often helps one get to sleep, it often disrupts sleep later on.
Mindfulness – meditation
Again in the ‘I need to practice what I preach’ department, meditate. I’m committing to 20 minutes in front of my altar every day, starting tomorrow. Here’s one of my free meditations that you may really like.
Pick the second meditation, the one called Grounding and Connecting to the Cosmic Flow. There’s an explanation sound file on the left, and the actual meditation sound file on the right. You can listen on the site, or download the files to your own computer or device.
Vitamins and Minerals
For vitamins and minerals, I’ve been following the ‘Ortho-Molecular Protocol’, and am quoting here from the Holistic health Community mailing on this subject. I can’t say if this protocol works – no one can, as no one’s exactly been doing double-blind tests on it, which is why I really object to their using the word’ effective’, but nevertheless, it make sense to me as a starting point (my notes in parenthetical italics).
Self-Care: In a blog by Lynne McTaggart entitled “Beating the coronavirus: as simple as A, B, C”, she quotes a team of orthomolecular doctors who put together an effective protocol for the coronavirus. In brief, their suggestions for supplements to build a strong immune system include:
Vitamin C: 3000 mg daily in divided dosages (I might go to 4000 mg, and all should be in doses of 500 milligrams, each spaced an hour or two apart – if you get diarrhea, back off a bit until your stools firm up – this is called ‘bowel tolerance dosing’)
Vitamin D3: 2000 IUs daily (Start with 5000 daily for 2 weeks, then reduce to 2000) (non-GMO, and unless you’re outdoors a lot you may, or may not need more than 2000)
Zinc (20 Mg Daily) Magnesium: 400 mg daily (in citrate, malate, chelate or chloride form) (One brand, RNAReset's Remag Liquid, really stands out for me).
Selenium: 100 mcg (micrograms) daily(I think one type (not brand) of Selenium stands out too, SelenoExcell. Several companies sell this, Here’s one reputable brand.
Click HERE or more complete information on this protocol:.
I would add to this that there is some evidence out of China that mega-mega-doses of vitamin C, some on the order of 20 grams (20 grams is over 2/3 of an ounce and would equal FORTY of those 500 milligram capsules!), spread out evenly (preferably via an IV drip), may be helping people already infected with the virus.
Many people disagree with me on mega-doses of any water-soluble vitamin, asserting that you ‘just piss out what the body doesn’t need’. I respectfully disagree: my experience with treating patients in comas with enormous doses, vs. ‘appropriate’ doses of Vitamin B complexes, leads me to a different conclusion: that if you absolutely suffuse the bloodstream with a given chemical compound, more will be absorbed through cell walls by osmosis than will be absorbed from a less-saturated bloodstream. Although the vast majority of it will indeed still ‘just be pissed out’, you may still get more whole-body absorption by upping the saturation. I have no proof of this, it’s a hunch based on observation and a tiny bit of knowledge of how solutions interact with membranes.
I am NOT advocating these high doses, however, as there is no baseline evidence that they work, and such doses can lead to nausea, diarrhea, and cramping. Mega-doses of non-water soluble vitamins, like vitamin A and D3, are potentially very dangerous, as you will not just pee out the excess, but, rather, your body will store it, potentially injuring or even killing you. Do NOT take doses of 20,000 units of D3 etc., as some irresponsible charlatans are recommending!
I use all three: the bulk of my C comes from the powdered sodium ascorbate version I've linked to above, which is super cheap, and super concentrated, with ¼ teaspoon equaling a gram of vitamin C – this is like Hamburger Helper for my higher-quality C. I then add some food-based C, and also some of the liposomal C, to increase bioavailability of the powdered ‘pure’ C. This is based on my hunch that bioflavonoids (plant-based polyphenol compounds) that are present in the food-based C vitamins increase their efficacy by working synergistically with the C itself.
I know only a smattering about herbs. I’ve used them, and researched them some, and I hope to really start studying the type of herbal healing work called “Plant Spirit Medicine” myself. For now, I’ll refer you to people who know better.
One is Stephen Buhner. Despite what you may read from the FDA and others, Buhner is a genius, who has done an incredible amount of work on herbs and disease, and has helped untold people (including myself) with his protocols for Lyme and Lyme co-infections like Babesia, Ehrlichia, etc.
I cannot say his protocols are miracle preventatives, or miracle cures (nor does he), in fact I can’t say that about anything I’m writing.
I can say that all of the things I’m recommending are designed to help the immune system cope with this pathogen, in various ways, and that I have utmost respect for this man. He is the farthest thing from a huckster there is.
You can also google “Buhner Coronavirus Protocol” and find several companies selling it. I cannot personally vouch for any of them.
My other source is local to me, my herbalist Jen Costa and her ElderMoon School of Herbs and Earth Medicine in Woodstock, NY. Besides the school, Jennifer has a large on-line apothecary, and also does consultations. Her Vital Resistance formula has saved me from more than one oncoming cold, and I think her work is just fabulous. She’s like me in that she’s level-headed, appreciates aspects of western medicine, and is also a very intuitive and spiritual healer. She uses both sides of her brain equally, and I think that’s what you want in a good healer.
Her husband, Jay Blickstein, is also a very accomplished body worker (Tui Na and acupressure), and kick-ass Neigong, Qipong, and internal martial arts (Kung Fu) teacher of several styles. He’s not seeing individual clients or teaching classes right now (just as I am not), but he will again, when he thinks it might be prudent…
I know even less about fungi (mushrooms, yeasts, etc.). But I have had this product personally recommended to me by people (like me) who have ‘gotten colds and flus their entire lives’, who say they no longer do. I’ve also read reviews from verified purchasers on Amazon that are rapturous about this product.
I’ve just started taking it, and do not yet know if it will help me, as I am currently recovering from the flu, or Covid-19, take your pick, as I cannot get tested in this crazy country without spending hundreds, or thousands of dollars.
But the rapturous reviews would indicate that this product probably does have a salutatory effect on the immune system.
In addition, an MD I know who is connected to some top medical researchers did not vouch for this product particularly, but said that Paul Stamets, the founder of the company, who also formulates all of their products, does “very good work”. The product is called MYCOmmunity, a clever portmanteau of “myco”, a word (or prefix) referring to fungi, and “immunity”.
Old Time Remedies
There are a gazillion, but I’ll only mention two that have really helped me when a bug of any kind starts messing with my lungs. These are good for any respiratory infection, bacterial or viral. If you feel even the slightest congestion or tightness or heaviness in your chest, get on these.
Mechanical loosening of crap in the lungs: have someone beat your back, on either side of your spine, briskly, from the bottom of the rib cage to the top of the shoulder blades. Do it hard, but not so hard as to hurt, repetitively, boom boom boom, 20 or 30 times. You, or they, can also do the sides of your ribcage, again, from bottom to top, and the front of your ribcage, from the bottom to just below the collar bones. This simple technique can really, really make a huge difference in braking up congestion so that liquids (Hydrate!) can get in and start clearing things out.
The bowl of steaming goodness tent: Get a large bowl. Put one drop of eucalyptus (or, in a pinch, Tea Tree) essential oil in it, add a few cups of boiling water. Put your head over it, and pull a tent of bath towel over your head so that you’re completely covered, then breathe slow and deep, thorough both nostrils and mouth. Breathe so deep that you feel your lower abdomen, your 'love handles', and your back below your rib cage expand fully. Do it as long as you can stand it, and, if you feel like it, do it twice a day. These oils are highly antiseptic, good for killing bacteria and viruses (bacterial pneumonia is a common, and often deadly secondary or ‘opportunistic’ infection after you come down with a respiratory virus). Note: some homeopaths contend that using these oils may ‘antidote’ a remedy.
Oh, homeopathy! I have such a difficult relationship with you! Sometimes I’ve felt that homeopathy doesn’t do a thing. But I have had one experience that proves that it can work, in fact, work miracles!
I was paralyzed from the neck down in 1992. I was only completely paralyzed for a few weeks, but it took many, many months to begin to recover normal function. My particular injury, Central Cord Syndrome, affects the arms and hands most of all, so I could walk way before I could turn a doorknob, let alone dress myself or tie my shoes.
After many months, I could painfully, slowly type, but guitar playing eluded me. It was just too impossible. I’d be able to play a note or two, slowly, clumsily, but chords, and lead runs were totally impossible. I gave up after about a year, my past years of playing in bands and recordings, now a truly bitter memory.
Years later, I started working with a Constitutional Homeopathist named Judy Crane. Over the course of about 2 years, we tried quite a few remedies, with no real results I could see, but I stuck with her because someone I really looked up to at the time had great faith in her.
Judy is a really determined researcher for her clients. Finally, she found a recently-proven remedy called Helodrilus (a remedy that no other homeopath I’ve met is familiar with, made from a Chinese worm, and specifically for spinal cord damage). Within 2 weeks of taking that remedy, I could play guitar, for hours! No, I didn’t (and don’t) play quite as well as I used to, but well enough that my most recent album Love, Lust, and Genocide not only got good reviews, but my lead guitar work on it did as well. Was it placebo effect? After so many failed remedies, that seems psychologically unlikely. And placebo effect fade. Almost two decades later, my recovery has not.
One thing you need to know is that homeopathy is energy medicine, not chemical medicine. It contains the energetic signature of the remedy. So, when some genius points out that, at higher potencies, not one atom of the remedy can be found, don’t bother arguing: they are in a self-contained world, with a Newtonian model of the body as a mere machine. Things like Qi (or Prana, or Life Force, if you prefer either of those) do not fit into that model, so any kind of energetic treatment is, in their circular logic, useless. As Frank Zappa famously said (but it was a line he cribbed from an old Charlie Chan movie), “Minds are like parachutes: they only function when open.”
So, homeopathy may well have things to say about this virus. I have not contacted Judy, but I plan to. I trust her honesty, and her knowledge.
Also, you must understand that, since homeopathic medicines are energetic, many things can ‘antidote’ them, render then useless. You can’t touch the pellets with your hands. They should not be stored, or even carried near cell phones, Wi-Fi units, large magnets, speakers, headphones, large electric appliances like refrigerators, TVs, even computers. And most homeopaths will assert that mint, or camphor, or, really, almost anything that tingles strongly on the skin or on the tongue, will also antidote the remedy, so you can’t use mints, mint toothpastes, tea tree oil toothpastes, etc. Some also assert that coffee and other things, like marijuana, can also antidote a remedy. There is no real consensus on all of this, so, your mileage may vary when talking to a homeopath.
One homeopath I stumbled upon stated on her website that, since she was infected by a bacterium as a child and got really sick, and was quarantined with her family, this meant that she was well-versed in crises like the one we’re now facing.
Given that we’re facing an unprecedented situation, requiring massive public quarantine, engendered by a virus, her claim would be akin to me saying that, since I know how to program computers, I am an expert in artificial intelligence.
I don’t like what I perceive as arrogance in any healer (Anthony Williams’ assertion that he alone, of all people on earth, has the information necessary to cure virtually all ills, comes to mind here).
So, choose your healers wisely. Again: if they say they have all the answers, run, because the mark of a true intellect is someone who’s not sure, who questions everything, even their own knowledge, abilities and diagnoses.
And, we don’t know enough about this virus. All of my advice to you is based on two things, my ability (I hope) to accurately collate and synthesize the best information out there that I can find, and my own healing intuitions, which have served me well in the past. But nothing I’ve offered here would give me the confidence to go out and freely circulate with other people at this time, with the belief that I could not get sick, or if I got sick, that I could heal myself. All I can offer is the best information I can find, with the sincere hope that it helps.
There are a bajillian more supplements, from Colloidal silver (yes, it’s useful stuff, but I haven't found a protocol I agree with, so I’m not recommending it here, for now), to lauricidin, to myriad other herbs and fungi. I can’t possibly list them all, nor would that be useful. I’m trying to condense what I know and believe in, into usable knowledge, and a not-too-giant collection of supplements to take.
Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Community
I really can’t explain this better than this Washington Post article, which includes simulations, but I’ll try. Quarantining, and even just massively cutting back on social interactions, can have a striking effect on ‘flattening the curve’ – that is, slowing the outbreak so that it doesn’t overwhelm the medical system (it’s probably too late for that in the USA, though I hope, I pray, that I am mistaken), or, at least, shortening that period of overwhelm, replete with its desperation and cruel triage.
When NY State limited meetings of people to 500, and California to 250, I just shook my head: too little, too late! In Austria, the limit is FIVE. As I write this, President Trump (ironically surrounded closely by over 25 people, I might add), said that the new government guidelines were for 10 people or less. Now that’s more like it!
During this announcement, virtually every speaker went to great lengths to lie to us, stating that they’d been on top of the situation, when they’d really been asleep at the wheel. So it goes. Trump said, what, a mere few weeks ago, that there were only 15 cases, and that they’d soon go down to zero, which was, at that point, a near statistical impossibility, as any epidemiologist well knew. Well, we’re now at about 5,600 (known), and they’re doubling every two or three days, and that will accelerate, at least for now. We’re just coming into the dramatic part of the ‘first half of the chessboard’ (more on that in section III).
So, food, water, your medical prescriptions, perhaps some of the supplements I’ve described, good sleep and mindfulness habits... What else does one need? Well, even I, a pretty introverted guy, need people. And I have none here. I am in complete quarantine, not even seeing my girlfriend, for God(dess) knows how long. I have only my lovely cat, Sarah, a mostly Maine Coon shelter cat, to keep me company.
Truthfully, I am sometimes near tears. It’s lonely. I miss my friends, but I miss my sweetheart the most. Who do you want most when the world is so scary? The love of your life. But, for several reasons, this is not possible at this time.
So, what pale substitutions can I find? I’ve found two: one is Facetime (if you both own an IPhone) or Skype (if you both own a reasonably good smartphone, or a computer). I am ‘seeing’ her, my kids, and friends this way. It sure isn’t the same. It is indeed pale, but it’s better than nothing.
The other thing I plan on doing in coming days is meeting friends outside – on my deck, on the nearby rail trails, and, while keeping a safe distance, hanging out. Maybe even share a bottle of wine (OK, a little alcohol) with them. This is slightly more risky, but not massively so, most especially if I bring their glass inside with one hand and then immediately wash it, and my hands.
No one wants to feel contagious, like they have cooties, but I am taking these steps for my own safety, and I will not be offended if they do the same, if they, for instance, bathe the outside of a glass I hand them, and their own hands, in sanitizer. I will not be offended: we all need to do what we feel is best.
Perhaps later, as I get more adept at this, I’ll even have dinner sometimes with my sweetheart on my deck. I think it can be done with reasonable safety. And, if, God(dess) forbid, it appears that several months of quarantine are necessary, this still pale substitute for hugs and kisses and easeful togetherness between myself and my loved ones will still be necessary and sustaining for me, and, I think, for them too.
If you have elderly relatives, living independently or in nursing homes, visiting them endangers them. so get them a computer or IPhone and teach them the rudiments of using Facetime or Skype so that you can still ‘visit’ with them.
If you’re alone, catch up on reading, writing, making art, binge watching TV shows and movies, gardening, and fixing up, or spring cleaning, the house.
If you’re lucky enough to share your space with people you love, break out the board games, and anything else you can think of, but also give everyone their own space – we’re in a state of near-constant psychological whiplash, and will be for some time: we need together time, and alone time.
But… for how long?
Hard to say, and it depends on whom you listen to. A very dear friend of mine, who is also an MD, and a brilliant man, says a year. A… YEAR! He thinks we need to wait until 60-70% of the population has become infected, and those that survive, recovered, so that ‘Herd Immunity’ will drastically increase our chances of not being infected at all, or until an efficacious vaccine is available.
Others say that this is not psychologically tenable for most people (I’m probably one of them), and, more to the point, unless one is really aged and really sick, one can build up their immune system and eventually, when the crush is over, and there are enough resources like ventilators and such available should one become extremely ill, confront the virus, go out, get infected, or not, as the case may be.
Both of these rely on the assumption that this virus will not significantly mutate during that year. After all, why do we get colds every year? Why is the flu vaccine different every year? Because viruses mutate. They want to live, thrive, survive, just like us. They are impelled by Natural Selection to grow and change, to adapt, in order to reproduce, just like us, just like every living thing on this earth (and, yes, some people say viruses aren’t quite alive, because they need to hijack other cells to reproduce, and because some can sporulate, become almost rock-like and dormant for long periods of time, but I won’t argue: they’re alive to me).
So, there’s a possibility that this virus is going to stay with us, as the newly arrived H1N1 ‘Swine flu variant’ virus of 2009 has, like the corona-virus family common cold virus has as well. If that’s so, only challenging the immune system will work, and it’ll be challenged over and over, year after year, killing far less than it does this first time, I expect, unless it mutates into a more virulent form, but still becoming another scourge, just like the common influenza virus we live with all the time, which can kill almost 70,000 people in the USA alone in a bad year.
So, how long you quarantine/practice social distancing depends on your health, your age, your appetite for risk, and perhaps your psychological ability to withstand not being in physical community with other humans in the normal ways to which we’ve become accustomed. In the end, it will be your choice.
The biggest part of the conundrum is that, due to the dearth of testing, we have no real idea of the extent of actively-infected people in the USA. One scientist, when asked how long quarantine would last, likened it to someone asking an exterminator how long it would take to get rid of rats in a basement they’d been too afraid to enter for a long time. Well said: we’re groping in the dark, and there’s plenty of blame to go around (see section III).
I am hoping against hope that it’s just a few weeks, but I don’t think so. I think that I, a 60 year old man, in mixed health, with some underlying issues, will probably end up waiting longer – something on the order of at least 60 days, perhaps 90 or 120, or more. But, God(dess), I hope I’m wrong! Miracles are possible, widespread mutation into a less-serious strain is possible. And I understand they’re doing something highly unusual, if not unprecedented: starting phase one trials for a vaccine right now without first doing animal studies.
Part III: an honest discussion of the scope of the problem, and how we got here
Trigger Warning: Reading this may be stressful, it sure was, writing it!
First, the bad news:
Our lives were about to be irrevocably changed. We all may have to self-isolate for possibly an extended period of time, with no guarantee of safety when we finally emerge from our burrows. Our healthcare system, once the envy of the world, hollowed out for years by the anti-government GOP so that we now have less ICU beds and less ventilators than most, if not all, developed nations, will likely implode under the load. I don’t know how many ventilators my state, New York, has, but it has 3000 ICU beds, of which only 600 are currently empty. The total number of hospital beds, ICU beds, Ventilators, etc., is woefully short in every state of the union.
I’m sorry, my friends, but things are indeed going to get a lot worse before they get better. It’s just a plain, hard fact, and I want to give it to you straight.
No politician in authority, Republican or Democrat, nor the head of the CDC was or is saying and doing enough, as far as I’m concerned, but day by day they are waking up.
Cruise ships, airlines, restaurants, and countless other aspects of normal everyday economic life are likely to die off, or be severely curtailed, causing massive economic disruption the likes we haven’t seen since the Great Depression. A lot of people are going to experience severe economic hardship, and if the track record of the USA is any guide, our cruel system won’t do nearly as much to help the have nots as it will do to help the richest. One fine example of our sick system that puts profits over people: Trump has announced that in the middle of this pandemic, he is going ahead with food stamp cuts.
And, yes, a lot of people the world over are going to die. This is unprecedented, with its closest analog having taken place in 1918, the year before my late father was born, and outside the memories of just about everyone alive.
When I saw this map on Feb. 6th, or, most likely, one that I saw one or two weeks before, it was crystal clear to me that community infection was happening on at least four continents. It was clear that, unlike SARS, this one would not be stamped out through early and draconian intervention, because the cat was already out of the bag – I was seeing the unmistakable signs of the first pandemic, in over 100 years, of a virus that seemed to possess a similar death rate, and contagion rate, as the so-called ‘Spanish Influenza’, which killed millions around the world in 1918, just as the world was de-mobilizing from WWI.
That misnamed flu (it did not originate in Spain) travelled, during the steamship age, all over the world, in mere months, infecting Laplanders and Inuit in the north, people way down in Tierra Del Fuego in the south, and everyone in between. Its reach was enormous, and its spread, rapid. One had only to think about the jet age, replete with cheap flights to everywhere, to see that this one was going to spread much, much faster.
Here’s the map from today. The entire would now looks like it’s covered in suppurating wounds. And a mere two days ago, the USA seemed, relatively speaking, empty, mostly tiny dots on most states, just a few large ones in a few urban areas. Now it’s plastered in overlapping red outbreaks.
Pay particular attention to the lower right-hand quadrant, the orange, green, and yellow curves. These are, respectively, the number of cases inside China (clearly plateauing, at least for now – but with most of China now going back to work, that may or may not be the case going forward), the green recovery rate, and, most importantly, the yellow rate of infections outside of China, which is hitting an ever-steeper curve, the famed ‘hockey stick’ curve indicating exponential, explosive growth around the world.
Just 3 days ago, that was below China, but now it’s rocketing up, indicating that infections outside of china now exceed those inside – and this is cumulative – all who’ve contracted the disease, all who’ve recovered (which are, I hasten to add, the vast majority of those infected), and all those who’ve perished from it. Soon, the totals outside of China will dwarf their own.
In modern, well-developed countries, with excellent medical systems, we’re hearing heart-rending stories. In Northern Italy, the most prosperous part of Italy, they are no longer bothering to intubate (insert throat tubes) into people over 60; They’re just letting them die because there are not enough supplies, not enough personnel, and not enough ventilators. Their medical system is imploding under the force of a tsunami of sick people. This, and probably worse, is going to happen to the USA, and several other countries, in the next 2-14 days.
It’s really hard to explain in a visceral way how exponential growth works, but I’ll try.
Exponential growth simmers along, and then suddenly skyrockets. The most famous example is the Indian king and the chessboard. There are many, many versions of this story – the reward is for winning a chess game, the reward is for a beautifully-made chessboard, but none of the specifics matter, and no-one knows if any of them are true anyway. Here’s one version:
There's a famous legend about the origin of chess that goes like this. When the inventor of the game showed it to the emperor of India, the emperor was so impressed by the new game that he said to the man: "Name your reward!"
The man responded, "Oh emperor, my wishes are simple. I only wish for this. Give me one grain of rice for the first square of the chessboard, two grains for the next square, four for the next, eight for the next and so on for all 64 squares, with each square having double the number of grains as the square before."
The emperor agreed, amazed that the man had asked for such a small reward - or so he thought. But soon, the emperor understood that he’d been had.
You see, a chessboard has only those 64 squares, and for the first couple of rows, the growth is tiny. But by the time you get to the halfway point, the 32nd square, that square would hold more rice than all of India can presently grow in a year. But it’s the second half of the chessboard where things get really crazy. By the time you get to the 64th square, that square would somehow have to hold enough rice to exceed the combined weight of all living things on earth.
Exponential growth is hard to get your mind around, it’s so powerful, but it plods along so slowly before it suddenly takes off at great speed. And this brings us to the ‘R Nought’ number of our current pandemic virus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease Covid-19.
The R0 or ‘R Nought’ number for a contagion indicates how many people a contagious person will infect, on average. For the flu, that number is usually around 1.3, which means that, on average, a little over one person will be infected by someone infected with the virus. This new virus has an estimated R0 of 2.2, which means that, on average, over two people will be infected, which is a recipe for doubling, for exponential growth. 1 person gives it to 2, then those give it to 4, then 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024… and that’s just 10 generations from the first infection…
How communicable this virus is, is still hotly debated, but it does seem to spread more rapidly, and kill anywhere from five to forty times more infected humans, than the common flu. That’s why smart people were freaking out and sounding the alarm, way back in early January. Those people were epidemiologists, experts in how diseases propagate across populations, and, sadly, most of the people running the governments of the world, ignored them – to all our peril, because those experts knew then, as I did soon after, that this thing was already out of control, that containment was impossible, and that the best that could be hoped for was to slow its progress into a gradual flood, rather than a series of tsunamis. But, tsunamis are now what we’re seeing in places like Iran and Italy, and what we’ll see soon, here in the USA, and over most of the globe.
I will not get into a large political discussion, because, as far as I’m concerned, Both parties, and the president and his administration, and the Democratic candidates for the presidency, have all fallen down on their jobs, to varying degrees, as have all of the governors and state legislatures, and the people who run the CDC. There’s enough blame to go around.
Why do I say all of these parties are to blame? Because, when I looked at that map, on February 6th, and probably days earlier, and saw that a pandemic was inevitable, that, indeed, it was no longer a matter of if, but when, I knew we needed surveillance testing in the USA immediately. What is surveillance testing? Simply, it is randomly testing the population, mostly in urban areas, to see when and where the virus has taken hold. It’s one thing to test people who are coming in sick (something that, despite our president’s lies to the contrary, is still not easily or widely available), but it’s another thing entirely to start monitoring the population, especially in transit hubs, for early signs of the virus.
Of course, the other thought I had was that we needed to roll out free, ubiquitous, easy-to-access testing for anyone who asks for it. I must admit that I didn’t think of drive-up testing, such as South Korea has pioneered, that is belatedly, and on a tiny scale, being rolled out in the USA (by local governments; the federal government has yet to roll out virtually anything), but the minute I heard of that, I knew that we must have those too, in great numbers, in all urban areas.
You see, it is the height of “penny wise, pound foolish” to do what the CDC initially suggested: only testing those who’d traveled to the affected areas, or had had direct contact with people who had; the virus was already traveling incommunicado, all over the world.
This approach was, essentially, putting one’s head in the sand and hoping the problem would go away. Of course, they were also dealing with an administration that was hostile to science, has gutted the budgets of those tasked with protecting us from pandemics, and dis-assembled the special working group that president Obama created within the national security establishment to deal with pandemics.
Pandemics are, of course, a HUGE national security issue! This pandemic is going to cost trillions, probably kill between 500,000 and 1,650,000 Americans, and injure countless others. And, of course, it’s going to lay waste to huge sections of the economy, re-shape the economy. Were I a rich man instead of a struggling energy healer and body worker, I would have shorted the stock market in general, and especially the cruise lines, the airlines, the sit-down restaurant chains, movie theater chains, gym chains, etc., and made a fortune. Alas, I didn’t think about it at the time, as I was more immersed in what I was seeing as the human toll: death, loss of work, and entire towns turned into ghost towns as people huddled indoors…
But where were Bernie? Biden? The brilliant “policy wonk” Elizabeth Warren? Was anyone screaming this coming tragedy from the rooftops in January or early Febrary? Or at the debates? For that matter: were many (any?) in the media exhorting those in power, those we trust to protect us, to start testing immediately, that we might partially-contain outbreaks, hence slowing down their progress, turning the coming tsunami into a more manageable, slower, flood? Seems to me that everyone dropped the ball…
But special condemnation is due for a president, and his administration, and his party, which have all derided science and expertise of all kinds, have lied directly to the public, first by drastically minimizing the coming effects of this pandemic, then by spewing more lies and disinformation about almost every aspect of the virus.
These same actors have drained science budgets near dry, and have indulged in the promulgation of wild conspiracy theories, to such an extent that there is no longer even a baseline consensual reality in this country about many subjects, even this virus! A few days ago, within the last WEEK, a friend of mine was at the hospital getting anoutpatient procesudre, and he met two men who insisted that this virus is ‘a hoax’ and ‘fake news’. Alas, they will be disabused as 1 in 650, or 1 in 300, or perhaps even 1 in 150 people in this country die.
Assuming you and I survive this, we will all know people who didn’t make it.
And special condemnation is due for the right-wing media machine of Fox, Sinclair, Rush Limbaugh, et. al. They have, for years, derided experts, derided science, and created a surreal, distorted bubble around many Americans. Now, they’re suddenly changing their tune. Suddenly this ‘Invention of the Pandemic Party’ has morphed into a serious crisis. The racist hatemonger, Tucker Carlson deserves some credit, as he alone stood up and criticized the president and his administration (and, apparently bent Trump's ear) about the mishandling of the oncoming Covid-19 crisis. But even now, the odious toady, Sean Hannity, is painting this as a triumph of American leadership, a Renaissance in health care! And all credit is due to our Great Leader. Do Fox viewers really have such short memories? Will Trump & Co’s minimizations of mere days ago be forgotten?
If history tells, yes: Rush Limbaugh used to seethe that drug addicts should be locked in jail, and the key thrown away. Then he was caught with thirty thousand (I am not making this up) Oxycontin pills that he was apparently hoarding for his own use. He got away with it (any normal American would have gone to jail for Possession with Intent to Distribute), and, as far as I know, his ‘dittohead’ listeners had no problem with his massive hypocrisy.
So, I don’t know if people will wake up. But this is not some victory for American health care. Quite the opposite, it is an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions, that, while not avoidable, could have been mitigated to a large degree.
Today, as I write this (and I’ve been writing it for the better part of a week), the Tri-state area of NY/CT/NJ has shut down restaurants, clubs, gyms, movie theaters etc. This should have been done at minimum 2 weeks ago, and it’s criminal that it’s still not in effect nationwide. Short of divine intervention, the math clearly shows where we’re going to be in just a few days, and every single day of delay probably means thousands of deaths nationwide. It’s criminal how slow these governments respond to a clear and present danger. Had we been invaded by Russia, everything would have come to a halt as we fought the enemy (except our president, who’d be welcoming them, no doubt, or possibly complaining of a mysterious relapse of bone spurs…).
All of these fearful facts point to the necessity of quarantine. It’s the only way to slow this pandemic down to the level that our medical system can respond. So, please, please consider doing it!
Some Good NEWS – and how it relates to Quarantine and Social Distancing
Well, first of all, the average age of death of this disease is 81 years old. Cold comfort for elderly people, and none to comforting for me, at age 60, with a few underlying health issues. But it seems to never kill children, kill very, very few teenagers and young adults, and relatively few in middle age. Compare that with even the normal flu, which heartbreakingly kills and injures many children.
The gist of the article is this: yes, the virus, in a ‘natural’ human environment has that 2.2-2.3 R Nought (R0) number, which means doubling and exponential growth. But as we limit social interactions via social distancing, smaller groups, and outright quarantine, that number drops, slowly and steadily, not with the explosive quality of the growth phase, alas, but drops it does. China still has a lot of active cases, but the daily influx of new cases has slowed to a trickle (I hope, as economic necessity forces the country back to work more and more, that this doesn’t reverse itself – new outbreaks are a constant worry, everywhere).
But it’s true: these measures, the measures I’m urging you to take, probably for a long haul, will slow the virus, and the more each of us do our part, the better!
But the title is terribly misleading, because although the virus is slowing in China, It’s skyrocketing elsewhere, like here in the USA. We’re in for a rough ride, and a lot of suffering and loss, economic and human, before we get to where China’s at currently. And it’s not going to take two weeks. Anthony Fauci suggested two months today, but, sadly, I fear even that’s optimistic.
But each of us can take steps to mitigate both the danger and the spread. And we can call others on their behavior, exhorting them to get with the program, because they’re not only risking themselves, they are potentially risking everyone they come into contact with.
And we can stay connected! We’re not alone in our houses like those burrowing in during yellow Fever, Smallpox, and other outbreaks of earlier times! We have tons of news and entertainment options, but most of all we have phone and video! And I urge the use of more video via things like Facetime and Skype. Seeing our humanity, sharing it, is a huge gift for us when compared with those who’ve suffered plagues and pandemics in the past.
More good news – the collective rises, and individualism fades?
We’re seeing videos of Italians in quarantine, singing out their windows, serenading each other up and down the empty streets. Health workers in full hazmat suits dancing and doing Karaoke to buck up the spirits of those in their care. We get so disconnected, so easily, and the purveyors of separation, the hate mongers in government make it so much worse. Incredibly, Donald Trump and Fox News are now calling this ‘The Chinese Virus’, at a time when Asian people wearing masks are being attacked on our streets.
But I believe the hateful people are outliers. I also believe that, alas, it often takes horrific crises to bring people together, so that the many, not the one, matter more, and our shared humanity blossoms, and we begin to take care not only of ourselves and our loved ones, but of strangers. This newsletter is my attempt, from here in quarantine, to contribute what I can. Please feel free to pass it on, if you feel it’s useful.
Parents and children, lovers, and spouses, locked in together, are being forced to have difficult conversations, and formulate new boundaries, while also fostering new connectedness.
People are rising up to deliver meals to the homebound. Virtual dance parties and group therapy sessions are popping up all over, as the concept of social distancing takes a firmer hold on our consciousness. And virtual strategizing about how to help the community in this time of need, how to change our healthcare model, how to make America truly kinder, gentler, more caring for its people, are arising spontaneously all over.
And, this epic failure to protect citizens, particularly in America, which I think is going to be particularly hard-hit, for the reasons I’ve stated, may lead to much needed examinations about capitalism, and about the individual and the collective.
Well, it’s the whipping boy of everyone on the left, the savior of everyone on the right. Conservatives will point out that capitalist changes to China’s formerly rigidly controlled market economy have “brought more people out of poverty in a shorter period of time than at any time in world history”. They’re correct. Capitalism has also caused untold environmental damage, and human suffering, in other ways, and in many places.
But Capitalism, at its heart, is based on a constant-growth model. Economies must grow, forever. Even as they are set back from time to time by depressions and recessions – the goal is still ever higher, ever bigger.
This model has only one analog in the natural world: cancer. Nothing can grow forever, as it will destroy its host (in this case, planet earth, potentially, and all human and other life on it). All stable systems become stable, and robust, when they reach a steady state. Unrestrained, perpetual growth is untenable, eventually, and eventually becomes toxic.
From our agriculture, which relies on massive synthetic and mined chemicals used to replace true closed-cycle stewardship of the land, to our manufacturing, spewing chemicals and toxic elements, some of which are pretty much toxic forever (mercury, plutonium, PCBs, et.al.), to our unrestrained use of fossil fuels – the entire Capitalist system, as it is behaving here at present, produces a socially and environmentally untenable system.
Why do I say ‘as it is behaving here at present’, in the paragraph above? Because, to me, there’s Capitalism, and then there’s what I call ‘Late-Stage Capitalism’, a form of Capitalism so degraded, so driven by short-sighted greed, that it resembles the ouroboros, the snake eating its own tail. It has waxed and waned, but slowly become the norm, because that’s where the world in general, and America most particularly, is at the moment.
Climate change is a fact. Oceans are rising. Miami and Charleston, South Carolina are living with flood conditions all the time that were unthinkable 30 years ago, yet Late-Stage Capitalism denies these realities in order to enable more short-term, untenable gain for some.
Developers still build on land that will be flooded, taxpayers like you and I will bail out the rich condo-dwellers who buy into those developments and protect themselves with artificially cheap, taxpayer funded flood insurance.
And… government gets hollowed out through rampant tax cuts for the wealthiest, the public agencies full of dedicated scientists get their budgets and staffs slashed, and… the healthcare system gets hollowed out to save money too – hence America’s ‘leadership’ in having too few ICU beds, too few ventilators, and too few trained staff to operate and monitor complex machinery like ventilators.
Look at South Korea, where FREE testing is available all over the place.
In congressional testimony the other day, it was established that getting tested, with all the paid hoops you have to go through in America (influenza test first, emergency room visit, etc.) could cost, on average $1600.00. That is insane.
It’s not only cruel, but it’s short-sighted in the extreme – because it benefits society to know if I have the flu, or the virus that causes Covid-19. The better picture we have, the better we can know how long we must endure social isolation and quarantine, to protect ourselves and our more vulnerable fellow humans. But in America, we don’t want to spend the resources to protect the populace – and that is the primary purpose of government – to protect its people.
So… what about South Korea? It’s a Capitalist country, and certainly based on that cancer-like model of eternal economic growth, but it does appear to be taking a much more proactive (and expensive) role in protecting its people.
The Enlightenment never went to Asia. It was a European, and then, more broadly, ‘Western’ experience, based in white-majority nations. In America, it reached its extreme, where ‘rugged individualist’ is seen as an ideal. That’s how you get the ‘self-made man’ – this fiction that a rich man did it all by himself, that the people who worked for him, the tax dollars that paid to build the roads so that he could ship his product, the taxpayer funded fire departments andmilitary that protect his belongings and holdings from fire and foreign incursion, and many more things, had no bearing on his success. No one can do it all by themselves, but we continue to promote that fiction.
There is more of a collective consciousness in Asia. It’s not enough, I mean, many Asian corporations have polluted the land, and worse. One need only look at Minimata, or Fukushima to see that short-sightedness and penny-wise, pound-foolish behavior is not the sole province of the Western world. Alas, greed and mendacity seem to be human traits found in all populations, just as kindness and altruism are…
The point is, even I, a total introvert and iconoclast, see the need for collective action, for enhanced connection, and I also see how our media culture and our government foment just the opposite: fear of those who look different, fear of change, fear of sharing.
Even in Italy, and the rest of Europe, Capitalism seems a little kinder, or, perhaps I should more rightly say, a little less brutal. Italy is talking about forgiving or postponing mortgage debt – something that I can’t quite see America doing, unless her people are near open rebellion, strained to the breaking point.
Somehow America, with its obsessions with productivity, keeping up with the Joneses, rampant materialism, has become the poster child for a cutthroat way of life, a cutthroat government, cutthroat healthcare system, and a cutthroat financial sector (when you’re in the most financial trouble, your credit rating goes down, the interest they charge you goes up, and you spiral ever deeper, spending all of your money to service your debt, often unable to refinance at a lower rate to pay off the high-interest debt, a spiral from hell).
Maybe, just maybe, this horrific crisis will move Americans to really question a lot of implicit ideas about America. Those who want to see, already see that we do not have the best healthcare system, and this has been true for a long, long time, America’s been near the top of the list in infant mortality for developed nations for decades. Maybe, just maybe, people will start asserting that we really do need ‘government for and by the people’.
And maybe people will start demanding something totally different than Capitalism, and, for that matter, conceivably, and dangerously, Democracy itself, although our democratic system, replete with the Electoral College, the Citizen's United and Voting Rights Acts decisions by the Supreme Court, etc., does appear to be well and truly broken.
During the Great Depression, many people flocked either to the Fascist banner, or the Communist one, as saviors, during a time when our own system seemed to be failing. The allure of an “I alone can fix it” strongman like Donald Trump is the desire for a father figure to come along and fix the mess you’re in. It is driven by an conscious or unconscious realization that the system is not working, and that it’s fundamentally unfair.
So, there is peril here, that this economic disaster, like the last one, will lead to another father figure, to an even more corrupt, venal, ignorant, arrogant authoritarian. But possibly the reverse will happen: the emperor’s nudity will be revealed, people will start to pay attention to the rich little men hiding behind the curtain, and some measure of economic redistribution and justice will arise. I hope it can arise without violence.
But what of those other economic and political systems? Well, as far as I’m concerned, authoritarian Communism or Socialism are just as bad. I well remember the cruelty and greed, the utter privation visited upon ordinary Soviet citizens by their elites, and the wholesale kleptocracy that ensued when the Soviet Union ruptured. And fascism... well, I think we can safely dispense with the idology that brought us the Spanish Civil War and the Holocaust. It seems, that, alas, no matter what the system, greed will out. It's just another part of human nature, or, at least, the natures of those humans attracted to power.
And yet… Change only comes through pain and discomfort. We don’t like change. It’s hard. But it’s here, and whether in the realm of economic and political systems, or family dynamics, this crisis carries huge potential to foment internal change in all of us, and change in our relationships with family, lovers, friends, businesses, our government, our economic system.
It is an unbelievable moment, replete with potential, and when I see technology being used for virtual dance parties and group support, for rituals like the upcoming Spring Equinox, for discussions of alternative healthcare models, which inevitably leads to discussions of economic inequality, racial and gender and other types of inequalities, I feel real hope!
And then there’s this: The massive economic downturn, while ravaging for many (possibly including me, soon), does mean two positive things: a huge drop in fossil fuel emissions, which will slow down climate change, and lives saved by reduction in pollution. I don’t think those lives saved will equal those lost here in America, but I’ll take any silver linings I can get!
And, perhaps as I intimated: the biggest silver lining is that that the wool will have been pulled from the eyes of many, both here and abroad, and there will be a clamor for a better healthcare system, for more responsive, and responsible government, for more funding of the sciences, more preparedness for the next pandemic, more respect for scientists and experts among people, and, perhaps, just perhaps, slightly more hesitation amongst the class of odious propagandists who currently lie to our faces when minimizing genuine public health threats and denigrating science.
Thank you for hanging in there. Any comments, corrections, and questions, are welcome.
Love your neighbor.
A NEW FREE MEDITATION
There are now two free meditations on my website.
One is a short shielding meditation, which deals with energetic shielding. The other is a hopefully calming, energizing, longer meditation called Grounding and Connecting to the Cosmic Flow.
Each meditation comes with two sound files, an explanatory introduction to the meditation, and then the meditation itself.
You can either listen to these right on the website itself, or download the mp3s to your own device to have your own personal copy.
If you are unfamiliar with me, my work, my story, and are curious, this might be a good place to start. It's an interview from a documentary about people who live with chronic pain, and it describes a lot of my journey, my relationship with pain, and how I went from someone with no hope and a desire for death to a place of service in the lovely dance I call co-creative healing.
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Medical Intuitive and Co-Creative Healer
Creator of the AuraLuminance Technique
and Shamanic Psychology
Associate in Ortho-Bionomy 917-453-3786 Tao.Shamanics@hvhealing.com
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