Wednesday, September 20

Antibiotic Devolution

Antibiotic: "against life."

Life is omnipresent. It does not care. It pushes. It fights. It never quits. We ignore it at our detriment. I am convinced that the downfall of humanity will not be nuclear war, nor asteroid impact, nor resource depletion. It will be the simplest of organisms that laugh in our face, stick us in the ribs, and wipe us out. We deserve it if we continue our present path and philosophy of sterility.

Human life will end just as H.G. Wells postulated, if you read The War of the Worlds sideways. Bacterium, virus, germ, parasite, or invader: whatever you call it, it will claim our myopic and unworthy species. The end will not manifest itself by epidemic, or pandemic, or any other -demic. It will visit us with stealth, one person at a time. With small dilutions of each generation, it will take control. With microscopic talons and teeth and subterfuge it will erode us.

The enemy has always been with us. We evolved together, an arms race kept in balance, each sacrificing the individual for the species. In the last century we have given the enemy an invitation to join us around the campfire, an opportunity for it to learn our strategy, our plans for war. We humans have battled and slaughtered, and will ultimately lose.

How many times have you flushed the public toilet with your foot? How many times have you pushed the revolving door with your hip? Have you ever used a pay phone with a tissue on the mouthpiece? Have you ever hesitated before shaking hands? Have you ever heeded the advice to turn on/off the faucet with your elbow wrapped in a paper towel? Do you wonder who has touched the vegetables in the supermarket before you buy them?

Stop it. You are not protecting yourself, or by extension, our species. To the contrary, you are killing us, ensuring our eventual downfall. I am not suggesting that we go around sneezing on each other's food, or licking the outhouse seat, or having unprotected sex in a Taiwanese hog farm. I am not suggesting an end to tetanus shots. I am suggesting that we start living with and acknowledging the minor inconveniences of the natural world, instead of ignoring them, arming against them without reasonable cause, or above all, fearing them. The immunity of any individual, species, or system is only as effective as the exposure to its threats.

So let your baby suck on the car keys and swallow small amounts of playground sand. The crud they ingest makes us strong. There is no such thing as an antibiotic. The inconvenient, guilt inducing screams of a child's ear ache may just save us all.


This Girl I Used to Know said...

I believe that the reason so many babies are so unhealthy now is becasue they are not allowed to play in the mud anymore.

My feet were dirty all summer when I was a kid. I didn't suffer from it. (well, except for the occasional asphalt burn from the hot summer driveway)

This Girl I Used to Know said...

Also... I eat rare meat.

tiff said...

Orrrr, if you DO choose to tkae antibiotics, FINISH THEM!!!! There's a reason they're prescribed the way they are.

You make a good point about abandoning sterility as a way of life. We need exposure to germs to create the antibodies needed to fight them off. A small dose of this and that is generally good for the system.

Wordnerd said...

Amen, brother, and amen Tiff. I cannot stand people that stop antibiotics because they start feeling better.

Chelle said...

I think I can climb down from my soapbox. You've done a better job than I in pointing out that we all ate dirt or ate food off the ground as kids and we are all still alive. (We are, right?)

Cowboy said...

I had a friend who had to work and live on a Navajo reservation in southern Utah for several months back in the 70's. He said that most of the families at that time had homes with dirt floors. The babies would crawl around on the dirt floor, sometimes drop a turd or two... you know, all of the "unsanitary" stuff that most of us would be yell and grab the Lysol for?

Because of the continual exposure to a slightly germy and unclean environment, these kids grew up with a very active and strong immune system. My firend said that there was hardly ever a sick person in the whole town...

Contrast that with my household, which seems to catch a different plague each week.