(Continued from part 2)
Not enough is known about how to handle the COVID-19 pandemic in spite of a century long history of reductionist medical successes, including past vaccination campaigns. We have been caught by surprise by a new magnitude of health crisis. The pandemic apparently is revealing critical fault lines in the reductionist sciences that have been shaping our lifestyles. The pandemic is revealing profound systemic and slow-moving crises such as the obesity pandemic, a toxin-saturated agricultural system, climate and environmental degradation, to mention just a few.
A quote attributed to Albert Einstein goes as follows: "The world will not evolve past its current state of crisis by using the same thinking that created the situation." A new scientific paradigm, Holism, that acknowledges reality’s interconnectedness, especially the interconnectedness of health factors as well as disease factors, is the new language that will articulate solutions to the crises underlying COVID-19 and its variants. The pandemic is forcing us to reassess how we manage human life on the planet. You may be familiar with the saying “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” A new breed of resolute medical and public health visionaries and practitioners have been rising to this occasion. Let’s embrace and join these leaders, as we too each do our part to collectively assure a healthy future for our children and grandchildren.
A CALL TO ACTION
What’s required of us?
1. Continue to exercise an abundance of caution, avoid contagion by practicing basic COVID 19 hygiene: social distancing, masks and hand washing, whether you are vaccinated or not. Demand these from your associates, your community and from your politicians. Denying or ignoring that the disease is contagious and that for some it can be lethal is irresponsible and needs to be called out. The spread of this disease is an issue critical to the “common good”.
2. Engage with a holistic health practitioner to improve your natural resiliency. Set up a regular schedule for periodic meetings. Adopt a proactive holistic health maintenance regimen for you and your family. Begin the process of generating an actual plan for family lifestyle improvement and natural immunity fortifying. An expert holistic advisor is absolutely foundational. We cannot do it on our own. Browsing the shelves at your local health-food store, or the internet, for the latest fad in herbal remedies and nutritional supplements is NOT sound holistic health care. Engage with a classical homeopath or an acupuncturist or a naturopath or a medical doctor practicing complimentary medicine, and so on. As long as you trust the referral and sense a good relational flow with the practitioner, you are good to go. Measurable health and immunity improvements will follow very shortly, within weeks.
Additionally, support politicians and policies that prioritize integral and complementary medicine. Share your holistic views about COVID 19, and climate change, and everything in between in writing with your representatives. Do not settle for compartmentalized responses. There is no time for addressing one issue at a time. Holistically, all the crises are one, an interconnected continuum, and need to be addressed as such.
3. Commit to spending time outdoors in nature, daily, with family and friends as much as possible. Contact with nature is essential to boosting your immunity. Support policies and politicians that prioritize the preservation and protection of both urban and wilderness parks. Nature bathing is not a leisure activity for the outdoorsy crowd but a basic evolutionary need of the entire human species. Our health depends on it, and its a matter of the “common good”.
4. Exercise generosity, give to and/or help others, either in cash or in kind, regularly. Increased generosity and decreased fear and concern will very shortly ramp up your life force and immune system. Generously “pay forward" at your local establishments or online and support forward looking charities. Be active in holistically minded civic groups. Live your life in an expansive mindset, being/feeling part of the solution instead of the contractive mindset of fearing the problem. Invest in the broadest “common good” on all levels, local, national and beyond.
Support policies and politicians that courageously prioritize the common good. Ask your leaders to raise your taxes in order to pay for services, and government infrastructure that ensure healthy natural resources for your entire community. Specifically demand that your taxes fund the transition from destructive industries to clean and regenerative ones, and the transition to a holistic health care system.
5. Walk, run, dance daily to energize your body/spirit. Support policies and politicians that consider life/work balance a labor right, a child right, and a common good.
6. Actively cultivate respect for life’s mystery. You may choose to take daily contemplative time for reading and/or prayer and/or meditation alone and/or with community. Make it a daily practice to retreat from your busyness. Attach yourself to the strength and love provided by the spiritual community of your choice. Practice falling in love with the valuable soul that you are. This will help your body/spirit manage disease episodes in stride, including COVID 19 according to some experts.
Support policies and politicians that demonstrate humility and wisdom, as both are required to steer us as a society out of harms way. Computer-modeling analyses published over the past decades predict more adversities even greater than COVID 19. New and worse pandemics, extreme weather events, food supply disruptions, coastal community destruction, species collapse, and climate related migration and war are some of the challenges experts have been warning us about. COVID 19 is likely just the beginning of a growing cascade of climate-change related diseases. Investing so much mental and technical energy battling one virus may be shortsighted and eventually detrimental. Wisdom and vision are required more than ever.
Additionally, from the perspective of Life’s Mystery we are called to assess a greater meaning and begin to discern significant personal and collective lessons. What is COVID 19 teaching us? How is it changing our attitudes and priorities? If we step back for a moment, can we recognize patterns directed by the “invisible hand of the... (select the higher-order-term of your choice)”. Is a redemptive potential peaking at us from behind a chaotic yet poetic curtain? How can these reflections empower us to save lives and improve the quality of life for ourselves, our families, and our communities?
Our capacity to assess wisely and empower visionary leaders that take the longest and broadest perspectives is more crucial now than ever. The COVID 19 virus may be only a blip by comparison to what is to come. This is the time for contemplation that generates fresh and emergent ideas, a new paradigm. As terribly lethal as the pandemic has been, we must stay calm, open minded, and wisely focused on the entire field of challenges and opportunities before us.
Begin now! Do all or some of the above six suggestions, regularly. These are not luxuries for the “Latte” crowd. These are essentials for us all. Your life and wellbeing depend on your proactive lifestyle choices and the principled stances you hold regardless of prevailing social pressures. If the term survival of the fittest ever meant anything, now is it.
The actions listed above are within reach. They are doable, affordable, and their efficacy is backed by an abundance of emerging research on holistic practice and theory. Natural healthcare interventions, nature bathing, exercising generosity, physical exercise, and spiritual practice, as well as political discernment have been the foundations of wellbeing since the dawn of civilization, and as such are evolutionarily adaptive. Our body/spirits are conditioned to respond favorably to all these measures. Our social instincts and social structures are conditioned to respond favorably as well. The holistic approach is the obvious next step.
The epidemiological and virological scientific communities have heroically risen to the task of producing aggressive reductionist strategies on short notice, which deserve our gratitude. However, current mainstream remedies for COVID-19 are still nascent and experimental as such. While we are enormously grateful for lives saved it appears as if success has been mild, as new variants emerge. The question remains whether the current basic formula of distancing, masks and vaccines intended to stop the spread of COVID 19 and its variants are sufficient? Thinking out of the Reductionist box may be required for us to go the distance. A holistic approach that redefines the “common good”, once widely adopted, will deliver a robust systemic response to COVID 19, western epidemic level diseases, environmental degradation, climate change, global economical instability, and more. How fast can we shift?
A HOLISTIC “COMMON GOOD”
As a former combat soldier and a current educator, I value competition. Throughout high school and later in boot-camp competitive activities did draw out the very best individual performance in each one of us, besides being great fun. But in retrospect it is clear as daylight that despite the competitive nature of many an activity, it was rather the cooperation and the collaboration both in the classroom and more so in the combat platoon that made for real success.
Paradoxically, competitive activity by its very nature is a form of collaboration. How so? Competition requires individuals to cooperate on setting agreed-upon rules of engagement for activities that ultimately raise the performance level of all involved, winners and losers alike. Any one person’s success is only as good as the success mindset generated by the group. A school that teaches only individual competitiveness but minimizes the value of solid social skills and cooperation impoverishes its students and the society they will enter. A platoon that does not cultivate intense collaborative skills subjects its soldiers to mortal danger on the battle field. The secret of all human progress is the willingness of individuals to surrender a measure of agency for the sake of the common good, because by doing so all rise higher than they would have been able to on their own. Human civilization is the story of cooperation.
Our grandparents’ approach to the “common-good” was framed by the reductionism, materialism, and isolationism biases of the 19th and 20th centuries. Their social contract indeed formed powerful socio-economical systems that created prosperity and social order. However, their sense of common good had a limited scope and was extractive by nature. They believed that other societies worldwide existed to serve American interests and that nature was a free source for raw materials, and a limitless toxic waste dump. Their Reductionist idea of the “common good” was limited to the “nation state” or the “united states”, making the rest of humanity, as well as of mother nature, a fair target for exploitation, and for endless extraction. This perspective worked for a time until its destructiveness was becoming evident with the growing ecological damage, and the geopolitical instabilities of mid 20th century.
With intensifying natural calamities and diseases, globally, our sense of the common good is shifting from Reductionistic to Holistic. Anything short of a global social contract including all humans and considering the wellbeing of nature herself, would not be sufficient. According to recent insights in biology, the social sciences, and climate research, our global systemic interdependency is obvious as never before. We rise together or else we will continue to sink together into greater devastation and possible extinction of human life on earth. The common good of yore has turned into today’s “common error”. We must respond to all of these crises as an integrated whole, as a matter of the grand “common good” or none will be resolved.
Pitting a truly virtuous claim for the “common good” against our cherished American value of individual freedoms, when discussing vaccinations, is a futile exercise in false dichotomy. Yes, it is relevant for our society to consider sanctions against the vaccine hesitant for the sake of the common good, but holistically, is it a battle worth picking? Let’s imagine that the battle was won, all are vaccinated. Now what? Returning to “normal”? The real work will have only begun. The crisis trend is already visible, new variants appearing as soon as the old ones are suppressed. The next more contagious and deadly pandemic will surface as the climate warms. Natural resources will continue to be ever more saturated with toxins. The common American epidemics of heart, lung, pancreas (diabetes), metabolic system (obesity), pills abuse (opioids), and gunshot harm will continue to spread. Social and economical instability will continue to increase. When the house is burning down around us, do we really need to fight over old ideological favorites?
It seems to me that the only common good discussion really worth having at this time is about whether, and how, to restrict human behaviors that contribute to global warming; contribute to poisoning of the earth, the water, the air, and the food chain; and restricting personal habits that burden the economy and the health care system, such as the consumption of harmful foods, harmful medicines, and other harmful indulgences.
The COVID 19 vaccination controversy, as heated as it is, is also a blessing in disguise. It is forcing us to consider the “common good” landscape of our time. What activities do we, as a society, truly need to mandate? And what kind of freedoms should we really guarantee? Unrestricted freedom does not exist, not in the American Constitution nor in any civilized society. We, the people, collectively define the freedoms we allow. Is it time to decide that free access to clean natural resources, free access to health resources, free access to livelihood, and free access to dignity are priority freedoms and the urgent calling of the hour?
You may be for mandating COVID 19 vaccines for the sake of the common good or you may insist that the basic all-American freedom to choose must take precedent. Both of you are probably a little bit right. But in our opinion your arguments in the context of this hour are entirely irrelevant. Combined, however, both of you point to a horizon of a new “common good”, a global and holistic one. From there a new creative paradigm for resolving the entire crisis-continuum, including COVID 19, is emerging. It will certainly take everyone to holistically manage. Or else!