Life consists of big things and small things.
The big things are communities of small things,
Although we seldom see it that way.
Our bodies are communities of small things,
Microbes included. Our “silent partners,”
We need them, and they need us, for
“They” are “us.” Bugs R us.
We are each a walking, talking ecosystem,
A big community of small things,
Not an “us” invaded by “them.”
The fear and loathing leveled at microbes
Is fear and loathing of some of
Our very own processes!
For we are WE, not “they” and “us.”
Be on friendly terms with your microbes.
Nourish them, cherish them,
And they will do the same for you.
Because we are a community. Practice
Peaceful coexistence and co-operative action.
When we make an enemy of these “others,”
We create for ourselves a perpetual war,
A never-ending battle for survival
Of “us” against “them.”
That’s one way of operating.
But not a very good one,
Because in the process we may end up
MADness: Mutually Assured Destruction.
Oh, but what about Lyme disease, lepto,
E. coli, MRSA, flesh-eating bacteria...
All those horrible infections?!
Yes, some microbes do not belong on us or in us.
But many do. Cohabiting, coexisting.
Peacefully? That all depends on us.
When any living thing finds itself in a
Hostile environment, it fights for its life.
So, whose fault is it — if blame be needed —
When a microbe finds itself
Unwelcome on us or in us?
What if Pasteur was onto something
In his deathbed concession:
“The microbe is nothing; the terrain is everything.”
What if we were to act from this perspective?
Must we make such a fuss? Why not just
Quietly usher out those that don’t belong
And make a place for those that do.
What if, rather than “killing the invaders,”
We feed the host, nourish and
Strengthen the host, and thereby
Restore a healthy balance between
Big thing and small things.
Oh, but what of viruses?
Surely there is nothing good about a virus?
Each virus is little more than code,
Small packets of DNA or RNA.
Information. Succinct bits of genetic code.
Remarkably like our own...
Most viruses are species-specific.
And with those that aren’t, their effects are
Essentially the same in all of us.
After all, we have so much in common.
So, might viruses be small fragments of ourselves,
Separated at some time of distress or disintegration,
Trying to find their way home through whatever
“Chinks in our armor” they can find?
Might they even be one way that life evolves?
Viruses: wayfarers, sharing news, offering views
We might otherwise not have seen.
What if we were to view viruses not as our enemies,
But as part of ourselves? As belonging.
Inviting them back home, might that not help to
Heal us all?