Living Lessons Blog

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Viruses as a Form of Communication

H1N1 just showed up (again) in the Philadelphia area.

I got this new flu because a young woman in my place of work, 22 years old, without health insurance became sick. She’s working two jobs, one of which involves kids in a public library setting. Despite working two jobs, Ms. X can’t afford health care, so she didn’t have herself tested or treated for the flu. She came to work not feeling well figuring frequent hand washing would do the trick, perhaps not appreciating the airborn nature of most UR viruses. Ms. X fell ill and while she did miss two days of work on Thursday and Friday, she had already exposed the rest of us and half of us were already really quite sick by the following Monday. I finished up a job for her which involved handling papers she’d touched.

Fortunately, it’s a small company with a handful of employees, but of those of us taken out of commission by this bug, the younger people are definitely not bouncing back as fast as one might think.

H1N1 is a new virus. A new life species. Which is really amazing when you take a moment to think about it. Where did it come from? What force of nature called it forth? Why now?

I’ve come to believe that  viruses are a fast acting communication between nature and the subset of animals which make up “nature.” Human beings are part of this animal group, despite our denial that this is the case. The communication is at a level our conscious minds wouldn’t be able to absorb, information we would refuse to believe. Like the news that a devastating earthquake or tsunami is on the horizon. Or that Israel might decide to attack Iran’s previously undisclosed nuclear testing facilities. In pre-emptive self-defense, of course. Screw the rest of the world. It’s all about Israel’s right to exist even if in defending this right, Israel takes out a significant portion of the world’s population as a result of escalated conflict in the Middle East. Not Israel’s problem, right? Hey, they didn’t start it. The Iranian’s did. This perspective is self-destructive in the long term while self-defensive in the short run.

Any leadership contemplating that a scenario attacking Iran as both rational and justified is hard to imagine.

Maybe this is why we need this new flu, so we can all be sick before such an event takes place and some of us can choose to check out with respiratory distress before being forced to breathe in more bomb-irradiated air. Not so good for the lungs, either.

Screaming, on the other hand, is excellent for the lungs.

Time for human animals to all give a mighty yell. One that will drown out the white chatter of media pundits, the General McChrystles, the Ayotollahs, the Sarah Palins and the Eric Cantors, the Netanyahus of our age.

Time for the human animals to scream bloody legalized murder, don’t  you think?

There were major flu pandemics either prior to or just after World War I and World War II. Millions of people died in these pandemics. Many of them young and seemingly healthy. Is Mother Nature is responding to our obvious, long-standing intention to kill each other in large number? Has Mother Nature decided, since this is our global intention, why should she and the rest of the living species which are more or less a peaceful part of her expression have to absorb the environmental fall-out of nuclear bomb tests and nuclear proliferation? More man-made shock and awe? Why not let mothers nurse their boys at bedside as their sons draw their last breath rather than never seeing their children again because they’ve been blown up in Afghanistan?

As the H1N1 moves under our skins, a rather frightful lottery begins. The timing is interesting. America can’t seem to wrap its arms around health care reform. What would a nationwide flu pandemic create within the failing structures of existing health care policy? Hospitals in the Philadelphia area are preparing to set up tents, and those sickened by the swine flu will be treated outside hospital walls. Tents filled with patients in winter time? Nursing staff are being instructed not to come to work if they become sick — which is common sense. So who is going to care for Philadelphians/Americans who are going to need more than aspirin, fluids, and hot baths to survive H1N1?

Here in the U.S., much of our work force has been displaced or down-sized thanks to globalization. Workers are expected to respect geographical, national borders when financial borders between nation states no longer exist and money moves around the globe in the blink of an eye. The American work force is doing more with fewer workplace protections in place since the systematic gutting of unions began in the ’80s. We workers are expected to stay put in our failing villages, neighborhoods and cities. Housing policies will ensure that we do. We are expected to keep on working harder, with two people doing the work four people once did. Domestic economic policies without tightened banking restrictions, financal market regulations and real, effective Congressional oversight will ensure we’ll keep on keeping on, just so. Obstruction of campaign finance reform will ensure that we will spend every last dime trying to stay alive in a capitalist, free market framework that requires we become paupers before we die, giving every last cent to a health related service or product, leaving nothing behind for our families to build and grow on. No helping hand up for our grandchildren. No bail outs for our sons and daughters. No health care reform for those who have worked hard all their lives or up until their first major illness.

American workers are stressed out about a failing economy where all the gold has been skimmed off the top by YOU KNOW WHO. They are afraid of being unemployed, so they are working harder and producing more, while receiving less for the exchange of their labor/time for money. With each passing day workers and retirees are less able to afford quality food, let alone quality health care. So these folks are more likely to get sick, and perhaps just sick enough to lose the job that can’t afford to pay their health care.

Since the financial markets and globalization have gutted our economy, and we no longer produce enough durable goods to balance out our deficit equation, then surely “sickness” must be the new American product? And, if sickness is the new product, it doesn’t have to be exported. We can keep all those dollars right here. No cheaper drugs from Canada, even though cheaper drugs are available.

Health care costs eats up one-sixth of our economy. Sickness must be what we all want since so much of our nation’s resources go toward the business of being sick. Right? I mean, where you put your attention and energy will expand. This is Universal law.

Could be time for another massive “die off.” This would be quite logical, naturally speaking. With a world-wide flu pandemic and significant death toll, there will be fewer displaced workers and wages will go up wherever the principle of supply and demand rules. The rub is the remaining workforce will be older, workers with (one hopes) historical memory and perspective about the good old days before the American dream became morphed into a dark, shadowy parody of itself. Before their children and grandhildren preceded them in death rather then being burdened by debt and no way out of indebtedness.

And, of course, it’s at this precise moment in history that Iran wants to be the latest member of the Plutonium Club.  

Nature may be saying with H1N1…hey, you want to kill yourselves by the droves? Okay, happy to help you out. Less wear and tear on the rest of the natural world if humans die of a new virus than contaminate more of my precious work with your…um…toys. New virus coming your way. Young people (no one to fight the wars), pregnant women — oooh, yeah — let’s cut life off at the well spring. Even more efficient. Fewer humans born to replace the ones who are intent on killing each other and the ones too selfish to take good care of one another when the fundamental resources are all in place (thanks to me, Mother Nature) and national health care is within reach.

This is the gist of the communication I got from the new H1N1 flu as I lay in bed, not quite sure myself this might not be a really good time to kiss it all good-bye.

Check out the timing between past flu pandemics and world wars between major world powers. Stock up on Vitamin C. Wash your hands, and then scream your digital lungs out at the Blue Dog Democrats and the No Ideas Republicans!

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