We don’t make it a priority to closely follow the national news, until or unless it has some relevance to our retirement life here at Peeper Pond Farm. Maybe some will see that as foolish, but I view it as practical. It’s far too easy to become too emotionally invested in issues that don’t need to be in our sphere of concern, especially in today’s politically polarized society. Our intentional isolation from those matters is reinforced by our refusal to subscribe to a newspaper or cable/satellite television service. Nevertheless, so many people are talking about the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak (commonly referred to as COVID-19) that it is impossible to avoid being dragged into it. However, so much of the discourse is based on fear, which is rapidly growing into outright hysteria and hypochondria, that I feel it necessary to throw my own two cents into the discussion.
Much of what I have had to say about it is based on related comments I have made in some of my past farm website posts. Most specifically, I would refer you to my May 4, 2018 post entitled, “Sacred Places,” my November 8, 2018 post entitled, “Our Diminishing Farmlands,” and my January 14, 2019 post entitled, “Defending Sales of Farm Fresh Raw Milk.” In the first of those posts, I explained my views on environmentalism, in the second, I emphasized the growing need to recognize the impacts of overpopulation, and in the third, I discussed how our efforts to protect people from deadly germs and bacteria has focused on pathogen eradication through pharmaceutical innovation rather than on finding ways to strengthen our natural immune systems. All of these points bear directly on the perspective I have to give you on the Coronavirus pandemic.
First of all, I would like to point out that the deadly Coronavirus is just another living organism on our planet. Sure, it has proven itself to be deadly to some of us, but the inconvenient truth of the matter is that it is an outgrowth of the diversity of life in nature and is no more deserving of eradication than any other living organism that exists on Earth simply because of its specific impacts on us. Many self-professed “Environmentalists” today take what I consider to be a “Preservationist” perspective that we should live our lives in such a way that we will have no incidental impacts on the health or survival of other living organisms and, by philosophical extension, on the larger planetary environment. That, in and of itself, is unnatural.
I, on the other hand, recognize that we are an integral part of the overall environment and cannot avoid having some measurable impact on our environment. After all, every person eats some living plant or animal, and we all poop after having done so. We cannot become so vain about our superior intellect that we can view ourselves as something that can or should exist outside of the natural environment that sustains us. Doing so would take one key factor in the natural process of selection out of the equation which would, in and of itself, create an impact on how that process functions. While it may save some life forms from extinction (assuming doing so will not affect our own), but it also may prevent some other life form from adapting to fill whatever environmental niche we will leave behind after our own extinction.
The ultimate beauty of the nature that surrounds us is that it is diverse and that diversity ensures the balance needed for life to survive. If you consider this perspective, the Coronavirus is just another way that life works to ensure that our population (and the consequential impacts of our society) remain in balance. After all, as I have pointed out in the posts referenced above, we have done our utmost, through our technology and medical advances, to extend our lives and encourage human population growth beyond the natural constraints of our environment.
Pandemics are not new. The last major pandemic wave occurred in 1918 and 1919 from the “Spanish Flu” epidemic. Like the current Coronavirus pandemic, that virus spread rapidly around the world, but it caused a far higher mortality rate than the current epidemic appears to be causing. Plagues even deeper in human history have had even greater impacts on human population than did the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918-1919. In each case, humans have adapted and survived. The proof of that can be seen in the fact that Smallpox, which decimated Native American populations after European contact, was transmitted by immigrants who had, over time, developed a natural immunity to the disease even as they carried with them to America.
The fears I see today over the Coronavirus pandemic are driven more by the potential that you or I may die rather than the fact that it can be deadly. Current statistics show that the annual flu virus has caused more deaths this season than has the Coronavirus. What makes you fear the death potential more is that there is currently no effective treatment for it. I recognize that I am mortal and have fewer years to live than most of you reading this post have left to live, regardless of the Coronavirus. In fact, I could die of many other causes that might give me more discomfort and suffering than I might experience from the Coronavirus. That doesn’t mean I will rush out recklessly to contract it any more than I will voluntarily drive my truck of a high cliff to avoid it. However, I’m not willing to live my life in hysterical fear of it. We all just need to recognize it for what it truly is. It’s just another way that the natural forces of our planet will keep our human population in check if we refuse to do so ourselves. It is part of the natural order, and it won’t be the last we have to face. At least it is not an asteroid that will wipe out most of the life on this planet.
I know what I’ve had to say will not reassure some of you that the “end of the world” is not going to happen because of the current Coronavirus outbreak. However, I can offer you one self-preservationist thought. I learned that as of this writing, West Virginia is the only remaining state that has no confirmed Coronavirus infections. Even the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico has confirmed cases. Maybe you’ll just have to admit that life can be better here in West Virginia than social media would allow have you believe. I will just consider it another reason why we feel that West Virginia is “almost heaven.” If you insist on pandering to your own vanity-driven fears, then rest assured, if the Coronavirus doesn’t get you, something else will.