The vast majority of the world’s population that has access to any source of media outlets is currently under the collective fear-driven news cycles of an upcoming apocalypse due to the emergence and spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19. As I write this, a CCN alert flashed across my screen stating that there were 3,000 cases of coronavirus in the United States with 62 deaths. This number was updated six hours later to 3,155 cases. No doubt by this evening, this number will be adjusted upwards, a trend that will probably increase for the foreseeable future, the exact end-point being entirely unknown.
While all due caution is absolutely imperative and all medical guidance should be strictly followed, as I stated in my other pieces regarding coronavirus, parts one and two, I couldn’t help but reflect on what appears to be an innate tendency of all living systems to trigger homeostatic mechanisms that force self-correction whenever one side of its expression become too polarized to either extreme. It appears that evolution itself has to adjust course in light of new information by self-correcting evolutionary realignments.
We know from history that disasters are often followed by tremendous gains and achievements. The extreme horrors of World War II were followed by an extraordinary period of increased economic, social, and political global growth and relatedness, rather than nationalism, which was unprecedented in history. It was the same with 9/11. Immediately following those events, murder rates plummeted, and kindness and appreciation were unleashed upon civil servants, hospitals, demolition crews, and emergency medical services. Out of control real estate, airline, and hotel prices were corrected, and there was increased dedication to global causes. The list is much more extensive but undoubtedly real, when previous issues and statistics were assessed through this lens.
One of the greatest and most well remembered political speeches of all time was delivered at the first inauguration by Franklin D. Roosevelt as the 32nd President of the United States. At that time, the nation was at the peak of the Great Depression and the speech was heard by tens of millions of American citizens.
“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves, which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.”
He went on to say, “There is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. There are many ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be helped merely by talking about it. We must act and act quickly.”
So, while we’re currently in the grip of the downward, fear-driven spiral that’s mostly emphasizing the potential catastrophic consequences that may or may not result from CoVID-19, how can we best compensate for those fears and reflect on the potential upside of this situation? And most importantly, what can we do to mitigate this fear-driven spiral into ennui, inaction and a potential sense of hopelessness?
What follows are some compensatory ideas that are in no way meant to downplay or minimize the suffering that many people have gone through or are about to go through. However, if we’re to embrace the homeostatic principles that there are no crises without blessings and we don’t live in a one-sided world where there are only losses without gains. So, let’s examine a few potential consequences that might arise from this present situation.
- Global warming. The global warming crisis seemed to be almost impossible to reign in, despite the most well-meaning attempts by a subset of global political and environmental leaders. With all kinds of global travel grinding to a halt, it’s inevitable that at least a pause to the upward tend of global warming, primarily due to the carbon footprint induced by travel, will be inevitable. When climate change experts examine this effect in months or years to come, maybe their statistics can be used to convince others of the need for a more sustained and ambitious action regarding this omnipresent threat.
- Exotic animal trade. China stopped the trade in wild animals for the purpose of consumption such as dogs, rodents, yaks, snakes, porcupines, and bats when the link between animals and the coronaviruses was discussed. Officials from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said they isolated the virus taken from a seafood and wildlife market in Wuhan believed to be the source of the outbreak. The coronavirus that caused the 2003 SARS outbreak was traced to the civet cat, a wild animal considered a delicacy in parts of South China. The civet is used in the popular dragon tiger phoenix soup, which is believed by locals to help with arthritis, stimulate poor blood flow, and revive decreased libido. The movement of humans toward recognizing animals as sentient beings may be assisted, a movement initiated and kept alive by the PETA president and founder Ingrid Newkirk and written about in her best selling book, Animalkind.
- Consumerism. Our western culture is an extroverted and consumer driven one. Perhaps by sitting at home for extended periods, with the stores, at least at present, bare of many types of consumer goods, we can reflect on our impulse to seek emotional consolation outside of ourselves by buying new items that we may not need. I do realize that the beast of online shopping may be unleashed but here’s hoping that the online stores may not be able transport unnecessary consumer goods due to the transport channels being slowed down.
- Possibility of increased relatedness. A series of recent posts by Rebecca Arendell Franks, who along with her husband and child has now been on forced quarantine in China for over 50 days, is quite illuminating. She said that, “Our family life has never been better. Usually, one weekend is long enough before I’m ready to send each of us back to school or work. But for SEVEN weeks, we’ve been home together with very little outside influences or distraction, forced to reconnect with one another, learn how to communicate better, give each other space, slow down our pace, and be a stronger family than ever before.” I encourage you to read the link regarding this at the end of this article.
- Nature emerging from the technological and human encroachment upon its domain. It’s been observed in Wuhan that the sound of birds singing has been heard for the first time in a long time since the crisis began. In Wuhan, Rebecca Arendell Franks commented, “Right now, I hear birds outside my window (on the 25th floor). I used to think there weren’t really birds in Wuhan, because you rarely saw them and never heard them. I now know they were just muted and crowded out by the traffic and people. All day long now I hear birds singing. It stops me in my tracks to hear the sound of their wings.”
- Learning new technologies for virtual relatedness. How does ZOOM actually work and can I teach my grandfather to hook up?
- Learning to cook. Maybe we can now, instead of ordering food in or going out to a restaurant, learn to cook for ourselves and make that tasty, healthy recipe that we’ve always been meaning to get around to.
- Examination of our national leader’s skill set in crisis management.
- Exercise. Finally, the Peloton bike or treadmill can be put to good use!
- Non-drug based medicine. Examination and renewed interest, along with a certain amount of respect given, of alternative methods for treating symptoms of coronavirus, and indeed other viral related illnesses such as the three studies currently underway in China on the use of IV vitamin C for the treatment of corona related pneumonia. See blog posts part one and two for further details.
- Lifestyle factors. An awareness of how lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, sleep, and stress play an extraordinary role in immune efficiency.
- Business awareness. Small business will become aware of cash flow issues, staffing needs, and unemployment issues.
- US Federal Reserve slashing interest rates. Maybe now is the time where one can afford the mortgage on a new home that seemed out of reach a few years before. Or maybe people with fixed student loan payments can borrow money at a lower rate to pay those off.
- Learning to connect with others non-locally. There’s a common misconception that in order to benefit from the full experience of another human being we have to be in their physical presence. Yet if we truly love someone and see both sides, the dark and the light, of their being, we can sit quietly, hold them in our hearts, and send deep love and appreciation to them for being in our lives. It helps if we have an understanding of the Einstein-Podolsky- Rosenberg paradox (EPR paradox) in quantum physics that showed that if one particle had ever been in contact with another particle, if they were separated across the full expanse of the universe in space and time, they’d be eternally intertwined or entangled. Einstein called it “spooky action at a distance.”
(Please note this is a very simplistic explanation for quite a complex issue.)
A few more quick positive outlook possibilities:
- Increased revenues for the medical device industry.
- Increased revenues for the supplement industry.
- Increased connection to neighbours to assist with grocery runs.
- Appreciation for the media and their updates.
- Appreciation for our doctors, nurses, and miscellaneous healthcare workers and politicians for rising to the occasion and setting minute by minute guidelines
- Appreciation for mobile device apps, Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for keeping us informed.
- Appreciation and understanding of our own vulnerability.
- Resetting of values and personal reflection on what is truly meaningful, including a reorganization of values and priorities.
So, as we step back, reassessing our priorities both personally and collectively, these are a few thoughts I’ve had in these troubling and somewhat frightening times. If Nobel Prize winning chemist Ilya Prigogine is to be believed, even insentient material systems have an inherent drive to self-organization. When physical systems get pushed too “far from equilibrium” they escape this chaos by leaping into higher level states of organized order, referred to as “order out of chaos”. My challenge to all of you is, what inherent dynamic force may be at play in your life, driving you toward greater and greater wholeness, complexity, and consciousness in the midst of these very challenging times? What thoughts of this nature have come to your mind in these times?
While you contemplate having a positive outlook and these deeper thoughts, stay safe, follow your governmental and health directive guidelines, and do what you need to do to get through these times. We must attempt to move beyond the greatest fear, which is that of fear itself.
Dr. Bruce Hoffman, MSc, MBChB, FAARM, IFMCP is a Calgary-based Integrative and Functional medicine practitioner. He is the medical director at the Hoffman Centre for Integrative Medicine and The Brain Centre of Alberta specializing in complex medical conditions. He was born in South Africa and obtained his medical degree from the University of Cape Town. He is a certified Functional Medicine Practitioner (IFM), is board certified with a fellowship in anti-aging (hormones) and regenerative medicine (A4M), a certified Shoemaker Mold Treatment Protocol Practitioner (CIRS) and ILADS trained in the treatment of Lyme disease and co-infections. He is the co-author of a recent paper published by Dr. Afrin’s group: Diagnosis of mast cell activation syndrome: a global “consensus-2”. Read more about Dr. Bruce Hoffman.