Richard G Merkler, MD, FAAP
May 11, 2022
It is the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. The COVID 19 Pandemic is on the wane again. In the General Assembly Hall, the heads of state and prime ministers are all scheduled to speak. Also, there are representatives of non-governmental organizations. On the list of speakers at this session is one unexpected individual, named Virus Coronensis. When it
comes his turn to speak, no one appears at the podium, but a slide appears on the screen behind it showing the now2 well-recognized drawing of the Corona Virus. Although he can’t be seen, Mr. Coronensis addresses the hall.
“It is my distinct pleasure to address this august body in this very difficult time for all of us. There has been great suffering in the world due to the pandemic attributed to my fellow microbes. As much as you may not believe, we viruses, bacteria, amoebae and other micro-organisms are suffering too. You must believe me when I say that my brother and sister viruses and I are not at all happy about our finding ourselves entering your bodies and multiplying at such a great rate. This is as great a tragedy for us as it is for you. And, worst of all, the planet that we all share is suffering as well.
Yes, it is true that my fellow viruses have spread throughout the world bringing disease and death, but I must tell you that, in my opinion, in my state of grief, we had no control or choice in the matter. We gravitate to mammalian cells very much against our better judgment; we reflexively inject ourselves into them and cannot prevent ourselves from taking over their nuclear machinery. This is how we live and survive. Just like those of you who wish to avoid killing animals for food, we wish we had other choices, but, such is reality. Just like yourselves, we do not truly know why we were put on this earth, but we are here with our innate drives and desires.
We are very much aware of your vaccines and efforts to break up our microscopic bodies, but, as much as we may protest, we have little power to resist them other than hoping for a chance mutation that will make us resistant. We think that we would be happier and healthier if we could find our way back to our original hosts, possibly bats or other animals–I’m not even sure–where we caused little damage while our hosts thrived.
I will tell you this, however. We microbes outnumber you humans by a huge order of magnitude, perhaps10 to the hundredth power, and we will be here if and when humanity is gone, and I believe that your eventual disappearance is a certainty. Along with the trees and grasses, birds and insects, we are a part of the great symbiotic ecological system that is Earth. We need to co-exist with each other for our home to thrive. And I must charge you with the task of actively taking steps to reverse some of the negative, harmful trends of human behavior. You cannot see the world as a bottomless well of gifts to grab at will to enrich your individual selves, but rather as a fragile nearly depleted storehouse that must be replenished.
What distinguishes you from the rest of the living beings that live on this planet is that you humans have the gift of intellect. You have language and, with that, the ability to formulate structured thoughts, analyze your surroundings, put your desires and needs into words, make plans and carry them out. I think that this may be a very questionable gift, perhaps a trick played on you by nature, or a natural experiment gone terribly wrong. Your thoughts and plans have brought prosperity to some, but war, violence and misery to others. For some of you, success means taking away the successes of others, of ruining their fortunes in service of your wants and needs. For as many of you who believe in care for others, there are an equal or greater number who only believe in care for themselves. I believe the negative side is winning.
We, who lack the ability to plan and carry out efforts to preserve our home, sometimes feel that humanity, with its selfish brains and intellect, would be best gone from the planet. Perhaps, through the random changes of evolution, our planet would return to its pristine state of health. It is up to you to prove us wrong, that, through your intellect and ability to take action, you can act to restore the home we share. If you don’t, the consequences for you will be dire, and there will be nothing we the unseen will be able to do about it.
So, where do you start? First, you must embrace the knowledge that your lives are as fragile as they are. You need to take into account the negative effects of any plan you make before putting it into action. A gross example might be the investment of billions or trillions of dollars into space exploration when literally billions of people on the planet are suffering in poor health, in need of proper nutrition, housing and medical care. You need to continually assess your actions for their consequences and not just charge blindly ahead on your professional plans, marriage plans, plans to have more children than you can care for, and not just unquestioningly follow your religious dictates. You may find the dogmas of other faiths untenable, and yet fail to see them in your own. You must realize that other living species are not your enemies, but simply put here as randomly as yourselves. They are not to be dominated but to be cared for. Yes, even bacteria and viruses.
As I have said, if you are not up to the task, you, or your descendants, will suffer. And, may I repeat, we are all suffering together, from the smallest creatures (us!) to the largest, but you are the only ones with the ability to change it.