March 23, 2020
Sharing a message from one of the spiritual leaders in our valley, Sun Valley, Idaho.
Viral Hopes by Sara Gorham
Well. Here we are, friends, living in interesting times. Every day the ground shifts beneath our feet, while the news assures us that even more disruption lies ahead. The invitations to fear are everywhere, and seldom has the unknown felt so unknowable. That said, though I do not wish to diminish the pain and loss brought on by the current pandemic, I actually have some high hopes for that little scrap of DNA we call the coronavirus. I have high hopes for the potential of what it might be able to teach us. My apologies to the virus if such expectations are too much to pin on the shoulders of so small a microbe.
I think this virus and the disruption it’s causing have the potential to bring us together and to help us see each other as we truly are – a unity, an interconnected family. I see it reminding us of the inherent uncertainty of life and how helping each other in hard times is the best way to deal with that uncertainty. I am hopeful it will remind us of the blessings of the present moment, so we all learn to spend more time there. I think it can and has placed us in a deeper appreciation of all that truly matters in our lives – including an appreciation of community and a deep gratitude for our loved ones everywhere, in particular those we shelter with, whether they have two legs or four.
I see our little coronavirus as here to remind us of our kinship to the greater biology of the planet, reminding us that we are a species like any other and subject to the same natural balances and controls as other populations. I see it as a welcome chink in our hubris, our assumption that we live apart from and by different rules than the rest of life on earth.
Perhaps we might see this virus as a notice nailed to our door, sent to us from the planet letting us know she needs a break, that we all need a break, from the constant taking and despoiling. Empty smokestacks and grounded jets may cause economic pain, but they also create breathing room and put blue back in the sky.
As business as usual grinds to a halt, we busy modern humans suddenly find ourselves gifted with the unfamiliar phenomena of unscheduled time. In that collective pregnant pause, I hope we might be reminded of the fine art of being which, in turn, might allow us to stand down a bit from our constant doing. And while we pause, I hope we listen – to the voice within, to the needs of our neighbors, and to the chorus of unity that hums in our hearts, waiting to be heard.
So yes, this virus has caused real pain, and yes, it’s probably not done. The planet has raised her voice at us, as mothers and teachers sometimes do, but I pin my hopes on all of us that we are open and capable of learning from all that this tiny virus might have to teach us as it works its way around the globe.
May we be reminded of this: that we are all One within a greater Oneness – within our common humanity, within the web of life on this planet, and most fundamentally, within the Divine Infinite. It is a simple and profound truth, claimed around the world and throughout the ages, and now taught to us once again, this time by the tiniest of teachers. The opportunity now is for all of us, individually and collectively, to listen and learn and, from that place of realization, to create a more thoughtful, compassionate and interconnected tomorrow.
’Those who love their own noise are impatient of everything
else. They constantly defile the silence of the forests and the mountains and the sea.
They for through silent nature in very direction with their machines, for fear that the
calm world might accuse them of their own emptiness. The urgency of
their swift movement seems to ignore the tranquility of nature by
pretending to have a purpose. The loud plane seems for a moment to deny the reality
of the clouds and of the sky by its direction, its noise, and its pretended
strength. The silence of the sky remains when the plane has gone. The
tranquility of the clouds will remain when the plane has fallen apart. It is the
silence of the world that is real. Our noise, our business, and all our fatuous statements
about our purposes—these are the illusions.’
-No Man Is an Island 
From Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark, A Paradise Built in Hell
“For me, is not optimism, that everything’s going to be fine and we can just sit back. And that’s too much like pessimism, which is that everything’s going to suck and we can just sit back. Hope, for me, just means a Buddhist sense of uncertainty, of coming to terms with the fact that we don’t know what will happen and that there’s maybe room for us to intervene. And that we have to let go of the certainty people seem to love more than hope and know that we don’t know what’s going to happen. We live in a very surprising world where nobody anticipated the way the Berlin Wall would fall or the Arab Spring would rise up, the impact of Occupy Wall Street. Obama was unelectable six months before he was elected.
It’s as though in some violent gift you’ve been given a kind of spiritual awakening where you’re close to mortality in a way that makes you feel more alive; you’re deeply in the present and can let go of past and future and your personal narrative, in some ways. You have shared an experience with everyone around you, and you often find very direct, but also metaphysical senses of connection to the people you suddenly have something in common with.”
“We survive…and then we die.” -Ojibway Elder
Please read this article from Donald G. McNeil Jr., a science and health reporter specializing in plagues and pestilences. He covers diseases of the world’s poor, including AIDS, Ebola, malaria, swine and bird flu, mad cow disease, SARS, and so on.
The Virus Can Be Stopped, but Only With Harsh Steps, Experts Say
Terrifying though the coronavirus may be, it can be turned back. China, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan have demonstrated that, with furious efforts, the contagion can be brought to heel.
Whether they can keep it suppressed remains to be seen. But for the United States to repeat their successes will take extraordinary levels of coordination and money from the country’s leaders, and extraordinary levels of trust and cooperation from citizens. It will also require international partnerships in an interconnected world.
There is a chance to stop the coronavirus. This contagion has a weakness.
Although there are incidents of rampant spread, as happened on the cruise ship Diamond Princess, the coronavirus more often infects clusters of family members, friends and work colleagues, said Dr. David L. Heymann, who chairs an expert panel advising the World Health Organization on emergencies.
No one is certain why the virus travels in this way, but experts see an opening nonetheless. “You can contain clusters,” Dr. Heymann said. “You need to identify and stop discrete outbreaks, and then do rigorous contact tracing.”
But doing so takes intelligent, rapidly adaptive work by health officials, and near-total cooperation from the populace. Containment becomes realistic only when Americans realize that working together is the only way to protect themselves and their loved ones.
In interviews with a dozen of the world’s leading experts on fighting epidemics, there was wide agreement on the steps that must be taken immediately.
Those experts included international public health officials who have fought AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, flu and Ebola; scientists and epidemiologists; and former health officials who led major American global health programs in both Republican and Democratic administrations.
Americans must be persuaded to stay home, they said, and a system put in place to isolate the infected and care for them outside the home. Travel restrictions should be extended, they said; productions of masks and ventilators must be accelerated, and testing problems must be resolved.
Just as generals take the lead in giving daily briefings in wartime — as Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf did during the Persian Gulf war — medical experts should be at the microphone now to explain complex ideas like epidemic curves, social distancing and off-label use of drugs.
The microphone should not even be at the White House, scientists said, so that briefings of historic importance do not dissolve into angry, politically charged exchanges with the press corps, as happened again on Friday.
Instead, leaders must describe the looming crisis and the possible solutions in ways that will win the trust of Americans.
Above all, the experts said, briefings should focus on saving lives and making sure that average wage earners survive the coming hard times — not on the stock market, the tourism industry or the president’s health. There is no time left to point fingers and assign blame.
The next priority, experts said, is extreme social distancing.
If it were possible to wave a magic wand and make all Americans freeze in place for 14 days while sitting six feet apart, epidemiologists say, the whole epidemic would sputter to a halt.