Let Us All Be There for Each Other
By Hannah Reimann
My awareness and interest in understanding the Novel Coronavirus came about in an unpredictable way. I had a minor eye problem that kept me indoors with a hot compress and not working for two days on March 1st and 2nd, under strict doctor’s orders. I decided to watch television more than I usually do for nearly two full days. This led to my closely witnessing the unfolding of international and local events via the media that none of us have ever known, a pandemic the scope of which has sent newscasters, scientists, doctors, politicians, and citizens like you and me reeling, wondering and praying. I have been watching the mayor, the governor, the president and multiple news correspondents every day, sometimes for hours. Everyone from military personnel to movie stars have appeared on screen to help us by sharing their experiences in wars and repairing natural disasters to provide insights and advice. What I see stuns me and there have been times when it has caused a lot of stress. What has been most interesting is not only watching the virus spread, but to see how people deal with each other as new events unfold.
While the media is crucial in times like these, the panic that can be inspired from watching it is not the ideal way to face the crisis. Looking with objectivity and distance I have come to believe the following. We do need to acquire facts, make sound decisions, take action, mobilize forces and take on the challenge of fighting the virus courageously. We also have to take on the challenge of creating trusting, solid relationships with our friends, our families, our colleagues and our leaders. It is, indubitably, our relationships that will create a positive shift. Some of the relationships between politicians are not friendly or comfortable. I have watched breakdowns in the efficacy of helping us due to poor communication and difficult personalities. And I have seen people fighting in the streets and in stores. One of my prayers is that people with good ideals and sound plans will come to the forefront to be the most effective agents for change and safety.
At a White House Coronavirus Task Force press conference on March 29th, President Trump stated that he deferred to experts Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infections and Dr. Deborah Birx, Coronavirus Response Coordinator, his chief medical advisors for this crisis. They made him aware that taking action to successfully fight the virus would lower the possibility of a national death rate from 2.2 million (without mitigation) to 100,000-200,000 people if we are lucky. Those are not exact figures and, as the advisors suggested, it is the virus that leads our actions to conquer it and not the other way around.
Dr. Fauci, CNN Health Correspondent Sanjay Gupta, Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow and the entire cast of NY1 are among many who have become messengers of up-to-date international news about COVID-19-related events for millions of TV viewers. Even Dr. Deepak Chopra was called in to explain the mind-body connection for us to heal and engage in preventative measures. Many of these people, especially Dr. Chopra, are my heroes, people I look to for guidance and information. He was the one who influenced me to a daily meditation practice in 2012, the number one thing that is keeping me sane now. Number two is friends and family. Music comes next.
What I have gathered from the daily reports, from documentaries and 60 Minutes episodes about pandemics, some from Australia, and from informed people I know is the following. The virus we know probably came from a wild bat who carried the disease, possibly chased from its natural habitat and wild fruit trees that were destroyed by agriculture that contributes to climate change, ate some fruit on a tree in a farm created by humans, spread it to another animal, a host who made contact with humans and spread the disease to us. This host may have been killed and eaten by humans at a wild market in Wuhan, China. The wild markets have dozens of live wild animals that are killed minutes before they are sold to customers. There is disease in the blood and other fluids spilling from the animals as they are slaughtered that makes direct contact with the sellers. Live bats are also sold as food. I know this sounds unbelievable, but it is more and more widely reported to be true. Bats, very shy nocturnal animals who do not want to interact with humans, are not to blame.
They do not come looking for us to attack us or bite us like vampires.
The very rapid spread of a highly contagious new virus for which there is no vaccine or effective cure and treatment can cross boundaries and borders in minutes and hours. We all travel frequently these days, locally and internationally, and we share more than we ever have as a global society. We are in a perfect position for this kind of crisis; it has even been predicted by trusted sources in the CNN documentary movie, Unseen Enemy. Bats have been traced to carry over 300 coronaviruses. Scientists and journalists who specialize in pandemics believe that this event is an example of Mother Nature getting back at us, calling the shots, and communicating that what we’re doing to the planet will not create happiness and community. It will create chaos, disorder and loss of life. And so we must embrace what we did, take responsibility as a species and fix the problem together. We must face the task of healing ourselves quickly and with focus as a community. We must put systems in place to treat the earth and its other creatures better than we did before.
There are also interesting Twitter conversations between the environmental lawyer and anti-vaccine proponent, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his followers who suggest that the coronavirus may have leaked from a lab in Wuhan. Such groups of activists and scientists are attempting to prove in their own labs that this coronavirus is different from other ones. Kennedy is a “defender of the environment” and recently reposted a Democracy Now article by Naomi Klein that argues that this health crisis could be a catalyst to shower aid on the wealthiest interests of society while offering little or nothing to small businesses that are suffering from the economic crisis that is resulting from the pandemic. He also posted a New York Times article, “The Ecology of Disease.” Here, again, we see that good relationships, trust, equality and communication are panaceas for this unfortunate situation.
Whatever the source of this pandemic is, the solution will come from our relationships. We must look at our relationship with nature, with animals who carry disease and to see them as innocents who don’t want to harm us. We have harmed them with our machines and industry. We need to regulate this and to live on the planet peacefully together.
Improving and examining our relationships with each other will get us through the crisis, treating strangers and friends alike in terms of safety and recovery.
Hopefully, we will contain the virus to keep it from spreading farther than it has already, isolating ourselves bravely and quietly, respecting the space of others. Everyone deserves medical care, time, and love. When people are acting out of line, tell them kindly and gently in a way that they can hear you. If they are doing a great service, recognize that and honor them. Spread love and good feeling and you will get it back. Comfort each other and be strong for each other when someone is feeling weak. Reach out to people by phone, videoconference and US postal service mail, UPS or FedEx to comfort them and for them to comfort you.
If you don’t use a computer, send letters and ask people in your life how you can use FaceTime if you have a smartphone. Sing songs to each other. Play music and make art. If everything else disappeared, we would still have each other and our relationships, our basic tenet of life.
In the words of Deepak Chopra, “We need a pandemic of gratitude, joy, loving kindness, compassion and empathy to create physical healing to face this pandemic. Our biology is entangled with our emotions. What I feel affects you, what you feel affects me. The spread of a virus requires physical proximity; the spread of emotions does not. We can spread good emotions through cyberspace, a pandemic of hope, of community, even of joy.”
As for COVID-19 and the huge challenge it presents right now, eventually, this too shall pass.
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