What does a new “case” of covid-19 mean? (And is it okay to shout “fire” in a crowded theater?)

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In almost every discussion I have had regarding covid-19 and the various governmental responses to it, one of the first issues that comes up are all the inconsistencies and contradictions in what we’re being told and what we’re being told to do.  But before I get into that, I want to look at one other aspect of the covid-19 picture that we in the U.S. are hearing and reading about every day:  the growing number of “cases” being found every day. 

One of William Shakespeare’s most well-known questions is: “What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  However, it is also well known that names, words, can and do make a great difference in how we perceive a thing.  The noun “case”, especially when relating to illness/disease is one of these words.  We have to be aware that sometimes a word means something in common usage, and also, within the specialization of one discipline or another, that word may have a particular meaning.  For example, we all know what the common usages of the word “head” are.  Either a body part or possibly the boss, or leader of something.  However, in the Navy, the word “head” can and often does refer to the toilet/WC.  Sometimes it all depends on the context the word is being used in.  The word “case” has some similar usage issues.

In common usage I venture to say we usually think of a “case” as being something that holds something else, like a cellphone case.  Or, when speaking about illness, a case is commonly thought of occurring when someone is actively ill with something.  We’ve all probably heard about someone coming down with a case of food poisoning, or, heaven forbid, a case of cancer.  The fact that someone ate some food which somehow, later, turned up as tainted, means that maybe the person might “come down with a case of food poisoning”, but not necessarily.   With cancer I have heard that at any given time most (all?) of us have some cancer cells in our body, however that doesn’t mean we’re suffering with a case of cancer. A “case” of something commonly means someone is actively suffering, ill, with whatever it is.   The CDC and other public health related people and agencies however, seem to have a different meaning for the word “case” within their technical jargon.  In that usage a “case” can evidently mean simply a positive test result. 

So when we hear about all the new cases of covid-19 turning up, what does that mean?  Does that mean all the people represented by that number are actively suffering from the severe ravages of covid-19, which we’ve heard so much about?  If we’re thinking in common usage terms, the word “case” tends to lead our minds down that path.  However, the reality is that in terms of the daily covid “scoreboard”, it doesn’t mean that at all.  It means more people have been tested and some of the test results are positive.  Kind of like someone eating some food with some unwanted bacteria growing on it.  Does that necessarily meant they are going to come down with a case of food poisoning?   As with exposure to just about every potentially harmful substance on Earth, there a few other variables involved such as the amount of the “dose” of bacteria and the person’s pre-existing state of health.  I think that the robustness of the human immune system is being largely ignored as the covid scenario progresses.  Which brings us back to: will someone who tests positive for covid become ill, develop symptoms?  Maybe. I’m not sure there are any reliable numbers on the relationship between testing positive and becoming symptomatic.  But even if odds are that an infected person will develop some symptoms, as the World Health Organization states:  “COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.”

At this point I find myself asking, would the daily news have the same quality of sensationalism if what is reported are “positive test results”?  As it is, while typical pornography titillates feelings of lust, what is being titillated by the current media onslaught is fear.  I don’t think it’s inaccurate to call it “fear porn”.  So, imagine the headline:  “Today an additional 1,000 people tested positive for covid.”  After a few weeks, how many people are going to be on the edge of their seats waiting for the latest tally?  But if they say there are 1,000 new cases of covid, especially without any qualifying explanations, our minds, our imaginations, tend to take us down the path of common usage to a forest of doom and gloom, don’t they?  So, are we being misled?  I think so, I think the folks putting the words together know exactly what picture those words are likely to conjure up in the minds of the general public.  However, are they lying?  I think it can be easily argued in a court of law that, no, the health officials are merely reporting the facts as they define them.  And the media is just parroting what they’re being told. 

I think the reporting which is taking place around covid by the mainstream media in the U.S. begs the question: is it okay to shout “fire” in a crowded theater?

Getting back to the matter of the inconsistencies, I probably don’t need to go much further, if you’ve been paying much attention to the claims about covid and the various orders coming from the various levels of government you could probably enlighten me about a few notable inconsistencies.  However, here are a few I’ve encountered:

  • One major inconsistency I’ve heard more than once is that while the State Legislature in Washington State is still meeting online, the State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is looking at, at least some, students being back in the classroom.
  • Another I’ve heard a couple times is: if covid is so contagious, why aren’t cities, or whoever, prescribing safe methods, or providing receptacles, for disposing of all the used facemasks and gloves? Personally I’ve seen quite a few discarded masks and gloves on the street or in parking lots.
  • If gathering in large numbers inside enclosed spaces is not okay, why is it okay to shop in large numbers at Walmart and other “big box” stores but not okay to shop in smaller numbers within smaller, local stores?
  • However, one I find most notable is: with all the expressions of danger and concern coming from the CDC, State governments and the Federal government, why aren’t our leaders showing the will and wisdom to use the same medicines and methods which are being used in the countries which have already been able to return to functioning for the most part as they were before the virus showed up?

With all that is at stake, with all the losses, of jobs, homes, and lives that have taken place and will take place around the covid scenario, there possibly has been no time in modern U.S. history in which it is more important for average citizens to be diligently seeking information about the situation facing us from all sources offering such information. Then the task we face is to sort through that information, seek what bits and pieces from the various sources hold up to scrutiny and fit together with other bits and pieces which we have confidence in the reliability of.  We must also factor in motives of individuals or groups which want us to do, or not do, something or another.  Are we “all in this together” or are there winners and losers?  Why?  When a relative few of the richest are becoming richer and millions are losing significantly, when those in seats of power are obviously garnering more power through their manipulations of the situation, there obviously are some personal interests being served.   What’s happening isn’t all about health.  It’s also very much about economics and power.  We should be looking into every nook and cranny that presents itself, then, with thoughtful analysis, we can begin to see the “big picture” of what is actually taking place.  Sometimes we may not like where our own observations and conclusions may take us.  Sometimes the truth is not the reality we want to acknowledge or have to deal with.

We Can Heal Our World

IMG_1010My life from early adulthood has been focused on learning what I can about mental, physical, and spiritual health.   I’ve managed to accumulate time in 5 colleges, earning 3 degrees.  I’ve accumulated countless hours in workshops, seminars, trainings, not to mention all the I’ve time spend reading studies and research reports.  I’ve traveled a good deal, seen a lot of different cultures both within and outside the U.S.  Also, I’ve spent time in 4 different jails and 2 maximum security prisons (one in the U.S., one not).  I’ve spent time with people from all walks of life:  doctors, shamans, people holding high governmental office, engineers, rocket scientists, writers, outlaw bikers, priests and ministers, drug dealers, prostitutes, psychologists, veterans and draft dodgers, bankers and bank robbers, persons inside the intelligence community and the mob.  Hippies (I’ve experimented with many psychoactive substances), wealthy “straights”, a lot of musicians, the homeless and some with multiple residences, murderers, artists, bartenders, hermits, socialites, social workers, nurses, people from every race, sexual orientation and religion.  At one time I have sat across the table from and had a conversation with a cannibal (we weren’t having dinner).  I could go on, but even I am getting weary of the list.

Where I am going with this is:  all of these people, all of them, are much more alike than dissimilar.  

This is our reality.  We are all so similar; it’s like we’re all from the same, very large, family.  This being true, how have human actions and interactions gotten so fucked up?  You would think after all those experiences I might have encountered some answers.  And I have.  Why do we so often mistreat each other and destroy what we need?  The reasons all come back to something one of the shaman I spent time with shared with me: All sickness is sickness of the mind.”  I know, what about germs:  bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc.?  Yes all those things exist and all of those things, and more, can and do affect us.  Yet, when we track it all down to the least common denominator, to the source that saints and prophets, spiritual leaders have been informing us about for centuries, and which quantum physics is now confirming, the instruction I was given by the shaman back in the early 1970’s is absolutely correct:  “All sickness is sickness of the mind.”  As a matter of fact, what is becoming increasingly clear, is that all that is, is of the mind.  But for now, for this post, I’m going to try to stick to sickness, and health.

It took me a surprisingly long time to realize that the inverse is also true:  All health is health of the mind.  Now, that is something to weigh into.

That includes your or my personal sickness or health, our families’ sickness or health, and up to and including the sickness or health of cities, nations, and the world.  Whatever the case may be, the origins of it are in our minds.  Does this mean that all the doctors should just send their patients home with prescription that says:  “Think Healthy”?  No, although positive, healthful thinking is never going to hurt the situation.  Our reality is a little more complex than that, our minds are more complex than that.  But on the most profound and inclusive level of our being, it is that simple.  We get to decide a lot about how things are going, both within our personal body and, collectively, within the body of humankind.

Let’s heal our world!  There are three criteria necessary for us to heal our world.  That’s all.  With these three criteria met, we can build a world which can be a nurturing, supportive, exciting, wondrous home for all of humankind.  And a much more hospitable world for all other living beings, and species, upon this planet we call home.

These three criteria are:

  1.  The Resources Needed to Create and Sustain It.  In spite of all the doomsaying about depleted and disappearing resources, we have enough to handle the population of the world, and then some.   Our problems have never been about insufficient resources, not on a planetary scale.  Our problems in this area have all stemmed from our management, or mismanagement, of what we have.  For one thing, we have allowed various resources to become like pieces on a game board for certain players to capture and hoard.  This is a horribly dysfunctional manner in which to manage the precious resources of our planet.  Another horrible aspect of our mismanagement to date is the quantity of resources we have allowed to become unusable due to our too often  cavalier regard of them.  This includes polluting our precious natural resources in the name of monetary profit.
  2.  The Knowledge to Engineer the Reality.  There also is no deficit in the knowledge needed to heal our world.  Again, not on a planetary scale.  Today, too often the most potentially beneficial innovations and inventions are often shoved into a closet.  Effective treatments and cures for illnesses, which aren’t the potential money makers for those who currently control and monopolize healthcare and pharmaceuticals, are either ignored, suppressed or somehow co-opted.  Realizations about better, more efficient, cleaner energy resources are ignored by those in power in deference to the money being applied by those controlling the archaic, dirty, systems which have managed to monopolize world industries.  If we were to measure the what, when, where, how and why of the resources and methods we employ in our day to day lives by the yardstick of human well-being, we would find we have all the knowledge we need to create and sustain a culture which provides for all of us, with food, housing, education, jobs, medical care, opportunities, and with abundant, exciting wonders to go around.
  3.  The Will to Make it So.  One might think this would be the most readily available of the three criteria.  Who, in their right mind, wouldn’t want a healthy, thriving, prosperous, exciting, wonderful world for themselves, their loved ones, friends and neighbors?  Especially as we’ve already seen centuries of what the alternatives are:  war, death, illness, suffering, hunger, homelessness, hopelessness, depression, stress, anxiety, loneliness, trauma, abusiveness, every plague; physical, mental and spiritual, known to human kind.  We get to take our pick.  The will to make it so is the only criteria which is the stumbling block right now.  Are we going to opt for the sickness or the health of it all?  

It is easy for anyone to look at these three brief descriptions of the criteria needed to heal the world and think:  but that’s not enough details.  We need more details!  The reality is that all the needed details are readily available.  All it takes is looking to find them.  Articles, videos, books, information detailing innovations which provide all the materials, engineering, health related and sociological knowledge needed to heal our world exists.  It is waiting for us:  online, or in the libraries and, most importantly; the minds of people around the world.  It’s all there, ready to be accessed.

Just to “prime the pump” of awareness a little, start looking at the possibilities available if only we would optimize all the uses of hemp.  Look at the health benefits we would reap if only we would clean up our environment, eat organic food, lower the toxic burden on our bodies.  Imagine the benefits of increased nutrition, education and health care, along with decreased stress.  I’m telling you, it’s all here, now.  All we have to do is want it enough to make achieving it, bringing it into reality, the organizing principle in our thoughts and actions.  If we do that and truly act it out, treat each other how we would genuinely like to be treated, we’re there.  We’re home.

Too idealistic, too utopian?  That’s the sickness which has crept in and set up housekeeping in your mind talking to you.  That kind of thinking has kept humankind involved in all manner of war and other inhumanities for centuries, millennia.  Negativity, egoism, jealousy, envy, greed, self-defeating thoughts, grudges, apathy, depression.  These are a few of the common psycho/emotional stumbling blocks we have to overcome to realize that which is actually our birthright:  a bright, incredible future.

We have a birthright!  The primary reality it is incumbent upon us to understand, to embrace, in order to realize our birthright is this:  we are, all of us, children of the Universal Creative Spirit, the Divine, God.  We are family; we are interrelated and interconnected.  When we learn to treat each other not only with equity, trust and civility but with love, then, as a global community, we will be opening ourselves to the full benefits of the divine and transcendental nature of our being.

I feel it’s important to interject here that a global community and a one-world-government, are not one and the same.  Throughout history diverse people have managed to more than just “get along”.  Very different cultures, races have prospered together.  Today, more than every before in history, people’s lives are made richer, more enjoyable through experiences of other culture’s food, art, music, dance, science, medicine and more.  We don’t need a one-world government, but we do need people from around to world to share a few basic values.  Such as mutual respect, honesty, fairness.

This moment in history, when the world is “smaller” due to advancements in communication and transportation, and when the world is more vulnerable than ever due to the destructive potential of modern weapons of war, learning how to co-exist, to live in harmony is more imperative than ever.  If all people would adopt a few basic, user-friendly values, we could all enjoy our diverse cultures, experiences, and do so in harmony, rather than in conflict.  It is so logical, so available:  all we have to do is desire it, will it, then act in our own best interests.