To The “Vulnerable”
Christopher Knippers, Ph.D.
Those of us who are fighting for our lives every day are being reminded almost hourly by the media that we are highly “vulnerable” to death from the latest pandemic. We need to be careful not to internalize this message, forgetting that we can and will survive this one also. We have many resources for coping with chronic illness. Some resources are practical measures like good nutrition, medical management, personal distancing, face coverings, etc. Some resources are spiritual such as meditation, prayer, and personal supportive relationships.
Another caution is that we need to be able to focus on how worthy we are of taking every precaution we can to be as healthy as possible. There is a vocal minority calling for total “freedom” to not take any precautions like personal distancing and the wearing of face coverings. This gives the message that these people don’t care about protecting us; and indeed they don’t.
The philosophy behind this call to “freedom” to protect their “liberties” is actually based on the philosophy of Survival of the Fittest (a term coined by biologist Charles Darwin to describe species that have survived through the centuries after others died off). The influenza pandemic of 1918 was ended using this method of infection control. Only the very healthy survived that pandemic. 500 million people were infected worldwide, and 50 million died. The influenza virus simply ran out of fuel. All of the most vulnerable had succumbed to it, and only the healthy immune population survived.
The world did not have the same resources and knowledge of infection control that we have today; but now, those of us who may have compromised health can survive a pandemic by relatively simple measures like distancing and face coverings, in addition to the common sense healthy practices like proper nutrition.
Try not to be too disappointed by the paranoid few who think that someone is trying to take away their liberties, and who are willing to sacrifice people with chronic health conditions in order to reach “herd immunity.” They are simply people whose dark side (we all have one) has taken over to some degree under the deep stress they are feeling from this pandemic. Any of us are capable of doing crazy things under enough of the right kinds of stress.
Those of us who are being referred to as the “vulnerable” ones need to take the best care of ourselves that we can, and keep a very appreciative attitude toward ourselves for our valiant battle against chronic illness. Keep stress to a minimum (forgive, meditate, pray, serve others) move on with a positive life being your best self!
Just remember, YOU are the “fittest” due to your ability to survive all that you have been through. You are tough and resilient.
Christopher Knippers, Ph.D., May 21, 2020