A Message From Our Editor, Issue #52 – Journey From Fear To Trust
Every weekend in class I show a video clip where anthropologist Robbie Davis Floyd tells us, “From the time of Descartes on, we have been acculturated to believe in mind-body separation. You see it in the separation of mother and child, in a fetal diagnosis that separates a baby from his mother. You see it in hospital birth, when a woman is separated from her own physical experience, which is monitored by machines that are external to her in her knowing. One woman said, ‘I don’t like dropping down into biology, so I didn’t want to experience birth. I didn’t want to breastfeed,’ because that would be ‘dropping down into biology’ in a way that she didn’t value. So, for her, the epidural and the cesarean were perfect.”
Every time I hear that line, I shake my head. How have we gotten so separated from our own selves that we want to detach from our biology? How have we become so disempowered to think we are not intimately related to our body, even while we are in it? How have we been directed away from our humanity into a contrived cultural concept of separation?
I believe that this has been accomplished through fear. The wonder and intelligence of life itself has been intentionally replaced by fear in our consciousness, so that we have lost the ability to trust that our own bodies represent the expression of intelligence striving for life.
In 1974, biology scholar Lewis Thomas compiled his collection of essays originally published in the New England Journal of Medicine into an award-winning book, The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher. He prophetically observed what has become one of the greatest distortions of our time…the fear of germs.
Watching television, you’d think we lived at bay, in total jeopardy, surrounded on all sides by human-seeking germs, shielded against infection and death only by a chemical technology that enables us to keep killing them off. We are instructed to spray disinfectants everywhere, into the air of our bedrooms and kitchens and with special energy into bathrooms, since it is our very own germs that seem the worst kind. We explode clouds of aerosol, mixed for good luck with deodorants, into our noses, mouths, underarms, and privileged crannies— even into the intimate insides of our telephones. We apply potent antibiotics to minor scratches and seal them with plastic. Plastic is the new protector; we wrap the already plastic tumblers of hotels in more plastic, and seal the toilet seats like state secrets after irradiating them with ultraviolet light. We live in a world where the microbes are always trying to get at us, to tear us cell from cell, and we only stay alive and whole through diligence and fear.
We still think of human disease as the work of an organized, modernized kind of demonology, in which the bacteria are the most visible and centrally placed of our adversaries. We assume that they must somehow relish what they do. They come after us for profit, and there are so many of them that disease seems inevitable, a natural part of the human condition. If we succeed in eliminating one kind of disease there will always be a new one at hand, waiting to take its place.
These are paranoid delusions on a societal scale, explainable in part by our need for enemies, and in part by our memory of what things used to be like. In real life, however, even in our worst circumstances, we have always been a relatively minor interest of the vast microbial world. Pathogenicity is not the rule. Indeed, it occurs so infrequently and involves such a relatively small number of species, considering the huge population of bacteria on the earth, that it has a freakish aspect. Disease usually results from inconclusive negotiations for symbiosis, an overstepping of the line by one side or the other, a biologic misinterpretation of borders.
In this issue of Pathways we take a look at natural immunity. Most childhood illnesses are not to be approached with fear. Parents today are operating with a restricted base of information. Holding on to what we have been told is true is not the same as having a true place of knowing. As you read this issue of Pathways, it is my greatest hope that you may see how doctrines of fear have violated our intuitive wisdom. From conception to birth and for the rest of our child’s life, let us make our decisions from a place of trust, not fear, for it will always be the better approach.
In light of what Pathways presents, may I suggest that you find your major premise within and then deduce your decisions from that premise. For myself, Life expresses intelligence, and the logical deduction from this premise, brings me to a place of trust. Humans have been conceiving, birthing, and adapting symbiotically for a long time, and we achieve the best evidence-based practice when we honor normal physiology.
I invite you to a journey from fear to trust, and conclude with another quote from Thomas’s The Lives of a Cell.
Meanwhile, we are paying too little attention, and respect, to the built-in durability and sheer power of the human organism. Its surest tendency is toward stability and balance. It is a distortion, with something profoundly disloyal about it, to picture the human being as a teetering, fallible contraption, always needing watching and patching, always on the verge of flapping to pieces. This is the doctrine that people hear most often, and most eloquently, on all our information media. We ought to be developing a much better system for general education about human health, with more curricular time for acknowledgment, and even some celebration, of the absolute marvel of good health that is the real lot of most of us, most of the time.
For the raising of the consciousness, Jeanne Ohm, D.C.