We pollute our oceans and seas with all manner of garbage. You’ve seen the pictures – swirling fields of plastic choking everything that swims and fishes and eats within its realm. We forget the effect this has on our own food supply, on our own water, on our own bodies when we eat the PCBs, mercury and plastic pieces that are ‘digested’ by the ocean. A June 2019 study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology stated that it’s possible that humans may be consuming anywhere from 39,000 to 52,000 microplastic particles a year. With added estimates of how much microplastic might be inhaled, that number is more than 74,000. These microplastics are found in beer, sugar, seafood, honey, salt, and other alcoholic beverages. Our pollution is everywhere and we’re not even conscious of it.
Is it any wonder that the sea of Humanity is no different?
This isn’t a rant about the state of our oceans but that is yet one more thing to think about. To rant about. No, this is about the pollution we seem to spread about as humans in the form of our thoughts. We do not think about our thoughts, actions, and words being pollution. Yet, they are.
I am an at-risk category of having complications if I catch COVID-19. Short of having some sort of emergency, I have kept the last five weeks at home, venturing out only when I feel it necessary to get medications or groceries. I am conscious of what I touch, when I wash my hands, gloves and masks, and who is around me. I am careful to stand back and wait for others to do their shopping and then I move in, when it’s clear, to get my things. I rarely touch carts, and I carry my own bags. I have received more than a few odd looks.
I don’t care.
Having seen someone die from pneumonia, struggling for breath as their lungs filled up with liquid and phlegm, eyes wide as they suffocated and died, I have no desire to end up in the same state. Anyone else who has seen that has no desire to die that way, either. If I can avoid it, wouldn’t I? I certainly will.
I am not a conspiracy theorist, I don’t believe that the government is out to get me, and I don’t believe that God is striking us down for anything. I believe this is a natural phenomenon that we, in our age of technology and wealth, have been able to combat relatively effectively. This is not the 1918 Influenza nor is it the Black Plague. We are fortunate to be living in this time.
And yet… I went to a grocery store yesterday, seven weeks in from the shelter-in-place orders and on the edge of stores and restaurants opening. Lines of people waiting to get into the grocery store and Home Depot stunned me. STUNNED ME. There were 40 to 50 people waiting at Home Depot to get in. What could be so important that all of a sudden, you need to stand in line for hours to get into the Home Depot store? Can we not last this time without being careful, being calm, and being SMART?
In another grocery store, one which had no restrictions, people were running around as if there was nothing going on. Six-foot recommendations, masks, gloves – everything was off limits. One woman, flaunting her freedom with husband and two children, were running everywhere, smiling as they pushed into mine and others spaces with the condescending air of “I don’t really believe this, I’m young, we’re healthy, I don’t care…” Okay, maybe I am making some of this up in my head… but it felt like that. In a rare occasion when I was with Doyle in the store, he mentioned it to me first. This is stressful for people like me who are on the edge. I don’t go out unless I absolutely need to, and I get in and get out. I touch nothing if I can help it. I am frustrated by the lack of change in humanity. I have to remember that great change comes slowly, patiently, and in tiny increments.
If the humanity near my home is any indication, it will be glacial change. Why do I call all of this pollution? Here’s the definition of pollution: Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse change. Contamination of thought. This pandemic is not over. Not by a long shot. The ramifications to how we interact with each other, what is important, financial losses and recession, how we treat each other, how we interact, the depression of mind and of resources – ALL of this will create a lasting, years-long effect. HOW we deal with it is as important as what we do. Do we check on one another after this is over? Do we separate ourselves when we know the second wave is coming? Do we appreciate the people who kept us going, fed, and alive long after we’ve forgotten the virus itself? If this is any indication, we will not.
It’s the pollution of the mind that I worry most about. Lack of a belief in science (Bleach, really?); so much a lack of belief that corporations are having to put out notices to not drink disinfectant, regardless of what the American President says. Washing hands, staying back, masks or no masks – regardless of the recommendations floating around, we seem to ignore this in place of our personal freedom. We all do have the freedom to die, I guess, and put hospital workers and health care advocates in harm’s way, along with anyone else with whom we come into contact. We don’t have the right to inflict our ignorance of common sense onto anyone else. This pollution of the mind is more effective at ruining our species than anything else, it seems. My body, my right to do what I want? Where even to begin with that? Of course it is! Absolutely. But it is not your right to inflict your ignorance on other living, breathing human beings.
I’m not a germaphobe. I have been known to eat that piece of bread that fell onto the counter as I pulled it from the toaster. Drinking from an unclean glass, well, maybe I have. I would like to think, however, that I – hopefully WE – have learned from the devastating effects of small germs, viruses, and bacteria when we’re not careful. We know that washing hands is effective. We know that distancing works: not only to save us from getting sick but also to help healthcare resources get ahead of the numbers of people needing acute care. Think about the people who YOU affect when you leave your house. Think about caring for humanity as a whole rather than your own selfish needs for a pint of essential ice cream or that geranium for your front yard. We don’t know all the lives we touch when we pollute our thoughts with “me” rather than “us.”
Why do I rant? Because I think we have to say what we grumble about when we are in our homes alone. Am I going to get angry or wound up about it? No. I know that humanity is far from as evolved as it would like to think it is. We’re not even close. What I can do is remain calm, be an example, and take care of myself. I will do what I know to be safe and with some consciousness, I will escape the Darwinian tsunami that could overtake humanity.
~Self-isolating for a while longer, than you very much TDD
(Featured image care of the Alex Jones Tinfoil Hat Emporium, Facebook)