Oppression Is Bad for Your Health

ANGLO AMERICA, 4 May 2020

Kristin Young Christman – TRANSCEND Media Service

  1. Censoring the News
  2. Health, Like Peace, Has Many Contributing Components
  3. Orders, Orders, Everywhere! Macho Leaders Are Clueless About Holistic Pathways to Good Health and Peace
  4. The Dangers of High Concentrations of Power and the Lack of Empathy Towards Those Who Disagree
  5. Oppression Kills: The Hypocrisy of Not Wanting to Overwhelm Hospitals While Accepting Years of Overwhelmed Health and Mental Health Systems
  6. The Hypocrisy and Inequality of Valuing Some Lives and Not Others, Accepting Some Deaths but Not Others
  7. Media: The More You Watch, the Less You Know
  8. An Ideal Approach

So much for Patrick Henry’s famous proclamation:  “Give me liberty, or give me death!”  Worldwide, people are being forced by their governments to obey oppressive measures, giving up their freedoms to socialize, play, work, move, and voice dissent in order to allegedly save lives.

In New York State, it was shocking as first the grocery stores began appearing with empty shelves and then Governor Andrew Cuomo shifted into alarm gear in mid-March and began mandating increasingly oppressive measures as he closed down schools, ordered 100% of the “non-essential” workforce to stay home, banned public gatherings of any size for any reason, thus violating the 1st Amendment right to peaceably assemble, forbade parents from bringing children to play with other children, mandated social distancing, forbade pick-up games of basketball in the park, and mandated wearing face masks when in public if within six feet of another person.

It has been downright creepy.  Why?  Because it is such an illogical reaction to a virus that kills – not 50%, not 25%, but an estimated 1 – 3% of those who contract it.  When I checked online in mid-March, I found that, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 80% of patients who contracted the coronavirus COVID-19 had only mild symptoms.

Based on a study of 44,000 COVID-19 patients in China, the death rates by age bracket were as follows:

80-89 yrs.   – 14.8%

70-79 yrs.   – 8%

60-69 yrs.   – 3.6%

50-59 yrs.   – 1.3%

40-49 yrs.   – 0.4%

30-39 yrs.   – 0.2%

20-29 yrs.   – 0.2%

10-19 yrs.   – 0.2%[1]

Of those who contract COVID-19 and die, most have an underlying health condition or are elderly – usually both.

In New York State, 80% of those who die from the virus have been 65 years or older.[2]  Most have an underlying health disorder.  In the NYC areas, nearly all patients hospitalized had an underlying health condition, and 88% had two such conditions.[3]

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 90% of adult patients hospitalized for COVID-19 had at least one underlying health condition:  49.7% had hypertension, 48.3% had obesity, 34.6% had chronic lung disease, 28.3% had diabetes, and 27.8% had cardiovascular disease.

Of course, in some of these cases, if these conditions are common in the population, such as obesity which exists in 42.4% of the American population, and hypertension, which exists in nearly 50% of the American population, then having this condition is not necessarily an indicator that it makes you more likely to have a problem.  However, the percentage of Americans with underlying health conditions who were not merely hospitalized but actually died from COVID-19 is even higher than 90%, suggesting that their underlying conditions contributed to weakened immune systems and deaths.[4]

According to the American Diabetes Association, those who have well-managed diabetes with more stable blood sugar levels are less likely to have complications from COVID-19.  However, only 25% of Americans have their diabetes under control.[5]  Also, the fewer the pre-existing health problems, the less likely one is to have complications or fatal outcomes even with diabetes.  I was not able to determine, but it would be useful to know a different set of statistics such as what percentage of those who have diabetes, hypertension, or obesity and who contract the virus die, what percentage of those who have well-managed or poorly-managed diabetes and contract the virus die, and what percentage of those who are 65 and older with and without an underlying health disorder and contract the virus die.

The facts we have – and already had from other nations when the virus hit the US – give us clear markers of who needs the most preventative and protective help.  Why not focus society’s actions on protecting those people rather than taking down the entire economy and jeopardizing the mental health of everyone else?  Even if the entire population were to contract the virus, it doesn’t make sense to have 97 – 99% of the people suffer mentally and financially – sometimes quite severely and fatally – for the 1 – 3%, especially if some of the lockdown measures are not even necessary to protect the others or have little or no effect.

So the point is not to ditch these people and throw them to the wolves, but why not concentrate our efforts on protecting those most likely to die in ways that do not harm everyone else?  And one of the best ways to do that is to educate people about the virus and to give individuals and families much, much more freedom to make decisions themselves so that they can be sure that no actions they take to slow the spread of the virus to the vulnerable will have a significantly harmful or lethal effect on themselves.

  1. Censoring the News

As creepy and illogical as Cuomo’s March mandates were, it wasn’t until my letter to the editor was censored that alarm bells went off in my own mind, and I experienced a sickening feeling of having my rights as an American violated.  It was a chilling sense of suddenly being in a country that I no longer recognized.  I was already unfortunately used to the mainstream media’s one-sided shallow news with logic full of holes, the stream of propaganda with which it bombards the audience, the way it makes readers and viewers feel their own opinion is truly their own and not manufactured by the media.  I was already used to the endless, illogical, cruel wars and military actions in which the US government has engaged nearly every year of its existence.  These features, shabby as they are, I recognized as the US.  But I had never before experienced the media explicitly and shamelessly acknowledging that it was rejecting my letter precisely because it did not conform with government policy.

I had sent the following letter to the Albany Times Union on March 20, 2020.

What is wrong with getting the coronavirus and developing immunity?  Why the scare?  Why so little individual freedom to decide how best to protect ourselves and others?

If this virus were killing people left and right, I would applaud these efforts to shut down so much, but more than 80% of people experience it mildly.  This statistic might be even higher if all those infected with the virus knew they had it.

We should seriously protect the vulnerable parts of the population – the elderly and those with underlying respiratory or other health problems, but can’t that be done more directly without shutting down so much of daily life?

When society overreacts – even playgrounds are off limits – it blinds itself to the negative economic, psychological, and physical consequences of its overreaction.  How will fear, reduced wages, shortages, inactivity, and inconvenience fight disease?

US overreaction to the Cold War caused millions of fatalities.  The US reaction to 3,000 killed on 9/11 has caused the killing of over 300,000 Mid-Eastern civilians and over 250,000 Mid-Eastern opposition forces in post-9/11 US war zones.  It is not only overreaction, it is reaction in the wrong way.

How ironic that a generally mild virus causes such fear of death when the US War on Terror has killed and displaced millions, when the relentless destruction of Earth’s habitats devastates all species.  Instead of self-centered worry, we should remedy our underreaction to the harms we commit, including the suffering of Iranians facing coronavirus yet hamstrung by US sanctions.

The letter was accepted, enormous pressure was released from my mind, and I was told it would appear in three to five days.  But then, several days later, I received an e-mail that others had looked at the letter and decided “it would be irresponsible of us to publish.  What you advocate isn’t in keeping with public health guidelines.”

It was a shock.  I sent back two angry letters pertaining to freedom of speech.  What if my ideas on maintaining optimal health are different from the governor’s?  What if I and others in the mental health and health fields think his response is, in fact, dangerous to health?  I’m not allowed to express these ideas?

What if I think this concern for life is hypocritical given the callous attitude towards millions of other deaths, both foreign and American?  This is parallel to the silencing of anti-war individuals in the past:  Their views were considered too dangerous because they might “hinder the war effort” and put ideas into people’s heads that make them less compliant with government.

Friends I told about the fate of my letter were alarmed and responded by e-mail:

“God forbid someone have an opinion that isn’t 100% aligned with General Cuomo’s ‘stay inside forever’ edict….You do have a valid point – and even more importantly, it’s a valid point that people need to hear because they’re not hearing any other opinions than the One Voice and Authority that says ‘We know what’s best – there will be no discussion!’….are reasonable ideas now so dangerous we can’t even see them in print?  Do they not trust their readers to make up their own minds?  Or worst of all, have they decided their paper is just going to be a mouthpiece for the governor’s war on the virus, and no dissent should be heard?”

“…any deviation from the corona dogma leads to shaming…while I understand the seriousness, obviously these are people’s lives.  But there is so much still unknown that I think diverse opinions shouldn’t be squelched or it will narrow our thinking and investigation.  Any restriction of voice is dangerous for sure and no situation warrants censorship, which is what it is….”

And these comments in phone conversation, paraphrased:

“It reminds me of Bush’s “You’re with us or against us” attitude.  If you’re not for Cuomo’s reaction, they think you’re an enemy of public health.”

“I’m in shock.  I can’t believe they wouldn’t print your letter.  I’m just so shocked.”

It is not as though my letter was encouraging people to breath all over each other or break out in riots, but apparently my letter was considered something that was not for the eyes of the general public.

So let’s modify the wording of the 1st Amendment to make reality clear:

“We have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom to assemble unless the government decides it’s too dangerous.”

But what good is an amendment like that?  It puts all the power back with the government!  We can pretend we’re free, but we’re really not, because what the COVID—19 experience has exposed is that government – particularly the executive branch – can trample democracy, declare law by decree, and take away our freedom – more than any terrorist has ever done or ever wanted to do – our freedom to play, socialize, work, move, and express dissent.  The COVID-19 virus experience has also revealed that legislatures and the people will obey and accept government violations of the Constitution and seizures of power, whether because they’ve been trained by school and bureaucratic society to docilely follow directions, or they’ve been groomed by the media to believe their leader’s oppression is necessary and optimal for our security and health, or they fear the government’s potential use of force against us.

It’s frightening, because Germans accepted Hitler’s seizure of increasing amounts of power, and one major action that could have helped prevent this is if the media had served more of an investigative, impartial role where it did not serve as Hitler’s mouthpiece but instead vigorously sought to gain a full history and a range of perspectives on relevant issues in order to fully inform the public.  But US mainstream media is behaving in the same compliant, non-curious way.  I’m sure the German media felt the same as the US media today:  “Our leader wants to protect us and we have to support him.  Plus, we might get in trouble if we don’t.”

The point is not that any US governor or national leader is akin to Hitler.  But the point is that the media has a crucial role to play no matter who the leader is, no matter her or his virtues or vices:  The media must serve an investigative, impartial role to go beyond government statements and search for the full length, width, and depth of truth.  Without this, a major safety net has vanished from our democracy.  And it already has vanished.  It vanished decades ago.

So who’s to stop the government from using force against us?  No American or foreigner has managed to stop the US government from attacking foreign nations.  No American or foreigner has managed to stop the US government from possessing 4,000 nuclear weapons.  And no American has been capable of stopping Cuomo and other state leaders from violating the US Constitution, oppressing us with mandates, and threatening us with enforcing them if we disobey.  We were taught in school to rest assured that the system of checks and balances and the separation of powers prevent any one branch or person from gaining too much power.  But what COVID-19 has made all too clear is that there is no system – no means – in this charade of a democracy to prevent the arbitrary seizure and use of power by national or state governments and their power-hungry executives.  And they can do it all so easily by uttering the magic words, “state of emergency.”

  1. Health, Like Peace, Has Many Contributing Components

The COVID-19 experience raises issues not only of freedom but of health.  As usual, those persons attracted to positions of power are all thumbs when it comes to human relations, international relations, human health, and planetary health.

As many Americans know but are unable to observe because of government mandates, optimal health typically requires a balanced life and a balanced mind, including plenty of sleep, nutrition, exercise, cleanliness, love, time with people and animals, time in nature, a sense of belonging, friends, family, affection, positive touch, laughter, joy, play, and often a sense of purpose.  Fear can cut away at optimal health.  So can isolation.

Staying away from germs, an aspect of good hygiene, is important.  In fact, my family does that more than most.  I began bringing baby wipes to clean off my grocery cart twenty years ago – years before grocery stores ever had them installed.  Sometimes in public, I’ll use my elbow or a sleeve to open or close a door.  We all wash our hands for 30 seconds after coming home.  We stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing.  We stay away from people if we are sick, which is rare.  We even have separate items in the house – towels, glasses, and toothpastes.  We also have pet reptiles and have to be very careful to not get salmonella or to infect one reptile with another reptile’s germs.  My point in saying this is to explain that I utterly value trying to avoid germs, but, while it takes thought and the development of good habits, it doesn’t take much to avoid getting sick.  But, I would add, it’s especially easy if you observe these practices and you’re not in a crowded school.

Frankly, I was always shocked how others would bring their little kids to playgroups or send them to school when they had runny noses.  I was shocked when employers expected you back to work the day after a fever, even if you had a cough and runny nose or felt dizzy and nauseas.  But that’s the way American society is in its power relationships and humans-as-worker-ants ethos:  Crack the whip and get back to work!  Make up all the work you’ve missed!  I know people who go to work even when completely sick because it’s harder to stay home and then have to make up all the work later.  Crack that whip!  The need to rest, both physically and mentally, the need to avoid crowds and the stuffy atmosphere of school or work, the need to peacefully rest the mind – all that is overlooked in the overworked American society where children and adults are forced to labor excessively as cogs or future cogs in the workforce, living life on a hamster wheel, finishing work just in time to start it all over the next day.

But now the tables have turned and society, led by governments, has gone in the other direction to an excessive degree.  It’s still power relationships, but now the power is forcing us to not go to school or work.  Not only that, we can’t even enjoy ourselves in many of the ways we used to.  We’re not allowed to get together, play together, play basketball together, or go for a swim.  Hiking is allowed, but only “solitary” hiking – despite all the advice to mountaineers never to hike alone.  And now I hear that the people of Keene don’t want us to hike the High Peaks, just in case we get them sick.  Whose mountains are they, anyway?  What the hell are people supposed to do?

Is it perhaps from not having practiced good hygiene previously that people don’t know that it’s not that hard to avoid germs and stay healthy?  And why take such extreme measures, which could have severe or fatal effects, when it is not clear that all of these measures truly benefit the vulnerable much at all?  For example, if people are capable of social distancing in the “essential” businesses, then why aren’t the so-called “non-essential” businesses allowed to stay open?  Does it really help the vulnerable to have them be closed?  Why can’t the vulnerable stay away from the “non-essential” businesses instead of closing them down?  Those employees of such a business who are more vulnerable, if any, could receive payment from the government and take off some weeks of work until the virus passes through.  But is there really a significant marginal benefit to the vulnerable of a 100% shutdown that is worth such risks as starvation and suicides from job loss?

And why the mandated public masks for all of New York State?  Do they have evidence that the virus travels through the air even when one is symptomless and not exuding droplets from sneezing, coughing, yawning, or heavy breathing?  Cuomo said that the “public mask if within six feet” mandate is meant to apply to places such as crowded bus and subway terminals, so why are stores in upstate New York posting signs that you can’t go in there without a mask on, even if there’s hardly a soul in the store and you can keep your distance from people?  Do they even have a legal right to do this?  Why the panic?  It’s as if everyone watched Outbreak, starring Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo, in which the death rate from contracting the virus appeared to be 100%, not the estimated 1-3% of COVID-19.

Yes, staying away from germs is one factor to good health, but it is only one factor amongst the many factors that lead to optimal health.  In fact, we are surrounded by germs all the time, inside and outside our bodies, but we have something called “The Immune System” to fight germs.  Is it perhaps from a reliance on pills, vaccines, and technology that people aren’t aware of how to physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually develop the strength of the immune system and powers of healing?  Or are most people aware of this and it is only governments that are ignorant?

In their oppressive paranoia about catching COVID-19, governments are so focused on preventing people from coming into contact with The Virus that they are ignoring and trampling upon all the other elements of good health, including all the elements that strengthen our immune system.

Picture a bell curve on a graph.  If you start on the lefthand side and move right, the curve rises up the bell.  As you keep moving right, the curve plummets back down the declining slope of the bell.  This is what is happening with the government’s exclusive focus on health as a function solely of distance from the COVID-19 virus.  By going too far to the right of the bell and pushing more and more orders at us, by creating not merely recommendations but oppressive mandates that are shutting down lives, health will plunge down that bell curve, because people are now suffering from government-induced oppression, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and actions, financial stress, lack of friends, lack of purpose, lack of recreation, and lack of joy.

What the leaders don’t understand is that their orders not only oppress us, they create rage, fear, and a feeling of being trapped.  It is quite dangerous to do this to us.  When a leader gives an order, since he’s giving the order, he doesn’t feel rage, fear, or a sense of being trapped.  Plus, he probably has access to a personal doctor, hairdresser, cook, personal shopper, and veterinarian for his pets.  The elements of life that government has cut off from us can be fatal – but leaders just don’t get it!  How can Cuomo understand the pain of job loss?  How can he understand that for some people, as some of us know all to well, job loss provokes suicide?  I see he’s still got his job.

Perhaps Cuomo and others dismiss suffering from the lockdown as a sign of weakness.  But the weak ones, let me remind you, are the ones succumbing to the virus, and the governor wants us to bend over backwards to help them, so why not equal bending over backward to protect the rest of us from issues that are lethal to us?  Or isn’t each life equal in value?  Leaders must put themselves in our shoes or they will forever see resistance to their orders as nothing but impatience, obstinance, selfishness, and ignorance.

One of the major elements of good health that is being trampled in this world of social isolation is the importance of positive touch.  In his 1978 book Touching:  The Human Significance of the Skin, anthropologist Ashley Montagu describes how in the early 1900s in New York City, babies in orphanages were dying at alarming rates from “marasmus,” the inexplicable numerous deaths of babies at foundling institutions.  In the early 1900s at some institutions throughout the US, the death rate for infants under one year of age was nearly 100 percent.  The highest mortality rates were often found to occur at the “best” institutions.  The “best” orphanages with the latest in technology had some of the worst mortality rates.

Then it was discovered that those babies who were held more often did not die.  Mortality rates began to fall when some modern institutions began adopting the “mothering” practices of the old-fashioned homes.  It then became a requirement to pick up each baby every day, carry it around, and “mother” it.[6]

Yet despite this power of love in health, the value of love is completely ignored in the current health pandemic, as it is with international human relations where a similar emphasis on the technology of drones, satellites, nuclear weapons, conventional weapons, and space weapons is felt necessary to save us and where military technology is felt to be the supreme tool to achieve peace on Earth.

What does the lack of touch, the lack of eye contact, the lack of a friendly pat on the back, the inability to see a smile behind a mask – do to our health?  Children are encouraged not to visit their grandparents – just visit them online.  But how does this harm health?  Surely there are ways to visit one’s grandparents – or even pat them on the back or rub their shoulders – while being careful to wash hands and to not spread germs.

Perhaps the elderly are now less likely to come into contact – at least in the short term – with the virus.  (Actually, I take that back with the news I heard about NYS government’s order to nursing homes of March 25, described further below.)  But how is the health faring of those elderly shut away in nursing homes or in their own homes who are told that, for the sake of their “health,” they cannot visit anyone because of the virus?  How is their health plummeting even now from the social isolation?  How many hearts are dying and brains are declining?

Does the governor know what is best for all without asking anyone but his “health experts,” experts trained in materialist Western medicine which routinely devalues the role of love, touch, mind, heart, and spirit in its obsession over physical facts and quantifiable results?  Ask any woman who’s had a baby at a hospital.  Is the hospital focused on love and positive touch or measurements, tests, and drugs to keep everything under the doctor’s control?

As early as the 1920s, the importance of touch was demonstrated in scientific experiments by Frederick Hammett.  At that time, an experiment was conducted in which thyroid and parathyroid glands were removed from rats.  For those who care for rats, this was an unkind operation.  However, a useful point was accidentally made in the process:  to Hammett’s surprise, some of the rats did not die.

Upon looking into the situation more, it was discovered that the rats were drawn from two different groups.  One came from a colony that had been customarily petted and gentled for five generations.  “The laboratory attendant had raised them under conditions in which they were frequently handled, stroked, and had kindly sounds uttered to them, and they responded with fearlessness, friendliness, and a complete lack of neuromuscular tension or irritability.”  When handled, they were relaxed, yielding, and not easily frightened.  They could easily handle disturbing circumstances that would make ungentled rats highly nervous and jumpy.

The second group of rats came from an ungentled colony that had received only the minimal human contact required by feeding and cage-cleaning.  “These animals were frightened and bewildered, anxious and tense in the presence of people.”

Within two days of the operation, 79 percent of the ungentled, irritable rats had died, while only 13 percent of the gentled rats died.  Later observation with subsequent experiments continued to show that the more petting rats receive, the better they do in the laboratory situation.  Of course, it could be possible to interpret these results as signifying that gentling produced rats better able to trust humans and thus feel calmer in laboratory situations, but Hammett concluded that the gentling and petting produced a more stable nervous system with a marked resistance to the surgical removal of the glands.[7]  

Many investigators have confirmed that rats and other animals who are gentled in their early days have “significantly greater increases in weight, more activity, less fearfulness, greater ability to withstand stress, and greater resistance to physiological damage.”  These advantages may also be responsible for strengthened immune systems.[8]

Is the importance of touch being considered when those who are suffering from the virus are isolated in hospitals?  Would death rates be lower if there were more positive touch and social connections?  Would anxiety also be lower?  Naturally, some people will deliberately misinterpret what I am writing and suggest that I am implying that love and touch is all it takes to stop COVID-19.  That is not what I am saying.  Keeping one’s distance and refraining from getting too close can also be important in certain situations.  The critical point I am emphasizing is that there are multiple elements of health, and our national leaders are solely homing in on one – keeping distant from germs – at the expense of other elements.

How many of those who require social contact to stay happy and peaceful will commit suicide like the young man in the UK, Daniel Furniss, who, because he had diabetes, was forced to live in isolation, where he could not even see his family and friends?  He killed himself.  He killed himself because the government took away his right and the right of his family to decide for themselves how best to protect his health.

Daniel Furniss was a 34-year old extrovert diagnosed with bipolar disorder who thrived on social contact and loved to play games in the park.  He was forced to adhere to the strictest self-isolation guidelines.  He knew he would have difficulty getting through the lockdown and told this to others.[9]  Yet this knowledge was not allowed to have any impact on his abilities to socialize during the lockdown.  The government’s blanket mandate overrode the significance of his individual knowledge about what he needed to stay alive.  The government’s assumption that cell phones, social media, and mental health phone calls will fill in for personal contact is dead wrong.

The predicament into which Daniel Furniss was placed by government is absolutely infuriating.  You may as well call his suicide murder.  It was murder by an arrogant and ignorant government.

No government has the right to do this.  No government has the right to interfere with an individual’s or a family’s own decisions about how to reduce lethal anxiety and how to achieve optimal health, whether it is by socializing, going to work, going to school, not going to school, refusing to be registered or conscripted for the military, smoking marijuana, skateboarding in a park, or swimming at the beach.

How many are staying sane – and alive – precisely because they are violating ignorant government mandates, visiting friends, sitting closer than six feet without a mask, or finding some secret place outside to play with others?  And how many of these people – even as they visit – are being careful and taking precautions if someone feels sick?  How many people are judging for themselves what is best for the circumstances?

In San Clemente, California, skateboarders in tune with what their minds, hearts, bodies, and spirits need to stay alive and vital were still skateboarding – despite mandates against it – in the local skateboard park.  In response, taking their cue from the Burgermeister who forbids children to have toys in the Christmas special, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” city officials filled in the park with 37 tons of sand.  One skateboardist, Steve Haring, commented that “city officials have taken the one thing we love to do away.  This is our home and this is where we exercise.  We’re able to social distance while also seeing friends.”[10]

Evidently, the government didn’t trust the skateboardists’ abilities to protect their health.  It probably never occurred to city officials to talk with skateboardists to learn their views.  And apparently, the joy, love, exercise, friends, and social setting were not deemed by the city government to be factors that could promote good health and a strong immune system.

Equally alarming is the possibility that even if some city officials disagreed with state mandates and felt skateboarding might be beneficial to health, Americans are so trained to follow orders in this massive bureaucracy, that, like Dr. Seuss’ Yertle the Turtle, one mind on top is capable of controlling millions of people below and easily convincing them to repress their own instincts and ideas and to not even evaluate orders.  This is what American democracy, freedom, and rugged individualism have come to – or perhaps have been for a long time.

Montagu writes of some friendly rabbits that were all given highly fatty diets in order to study atherosclerosis.  As I recall from his book, some of these rabbits were petted, held and cooed over, while others were not.  Those rabbits who were frequently held and cuddled did not develop atherosclerosis.  The affection and positive touch were more powerful factors than the diet.  Whether or not this experiment has been repeated in research, I do not know.  But it should at least serve the purpose of raising an eyebrow at the Western materialist, quantitative view of health as a matter primarily of germs, numbers, tests, and measurements.

Can we apply this to a study of people with hypertension and diabetes?  What is the effect of positive touch on these health problems?  What is the effect of social isolation, masks, inactivity, and life-jarring mandates?  Is it possible these mandates are making bodies less able to successfully fight off the virus?  How many are developing hypertension or worsening diabetes because of the oppression and accompanying anxiety?

Anxiety, depression, and stress are known to be major contributors to poor health.  Even back in the 1980s, doctors already were blaming fear, depression, anxiety, and other chronic negative emotions for causing or aggravating 60 – 75% of common American illnesses.[11]  Yet despite the powerful effect of emotions on health, they are being entirely overlooked in efforts to prevent death from COVID-19.

  1. Orders, Orders, Everywhere! Macho Leaders Are Clueless About Holistic Pathways to Good Health and Peace

The breed in power appears uncomfortable with the power of love and caring and is all thumbs when it comes to bedside manner and the elements of health.  That’s why leaders are so narrow-minded and short-sighted about reacting to the virus.  For Cuomo and others, promoting good health must be done in a macho way:  This is war!  “We’re going to kick ass!”  Do as I say or else!  Don’t follow your own instincts!  And don’t do anything affectionate, loving, joyful, or social.  That is off limits!  If you disobey, we’ll fine you, and, in some nations, imprison you or shoot you.  That’s how we’ll protect life, by golly.  Just like we’re protecting American life by shooting down Afghans, Iraqis, and Somalis.

How many around the world are furious with macho leaders who claim to be better parents than you are and who deprive parents and individuals of the freedom to make decisions about health?

Cuomo’s tone has been commanding and condescending.  He clearly assumes we are incapable of figuring out for ourselves how to protect our health but need marching orders.  With the bedside manner of someone who could make a healthy person sick, he has reminded us that these measures are not friendly suggestions but mandates that will be enforced.  Stress, threats, and the uncertainty surrounding the apparent lack of limits to this new oppression from on high are the ingredients to concoct exactly the wrong recipe to help people acquire a healthy, peaceful state of mind to fight off a virus.

Creepier still has been the emphasis on staying indoors.  Sometimes it is mentioned that we can go out – but only for essential errands – or for a run.  But the emphasis is always on staying indoors.  Why?  Are they preparing us for nuclear or chemical war? For life on Mars?  Why indoors?  Why in some nations, such as Russia, are you not allowed to walk beyond 100 meters of your home?  Where is the logic?  Are they afraid you’re going to sneeze on a sidewalk that someone else touches who then licks his hand?

When Cuomo banned gatherings of any size for any reason, it left you feeling creepy again:  Would the police be scanning neighborhoods, parks, homes, and cars to see how many had assembled?  Are you allowed to be within six feet of a family member on the sofa or at the dining room table?  Or did his edict refer only to gatherings between families?  Could cousins be within six feet?  Or only siblings?  Could a mother bring her child to the store?  Were cars allowed to have only one person in them?  Could you not sit on a bench with a friend?

Cuomo specifically forbade pick-up games of basketball.  So would you be arrested if you shot hoops with others?  Was tennis banned, too?  Why couldn’t children play on the playground if they didn’t get too close to one another?  Many playgrounds are nearly vacant.  Not even one family is allowed to play on the playground?  Why can’t children wash their hands afterwards like you do at a petting zoo?  How can you do this to children?

Of course, if we were allowed to use our own judgment and our own sense of logic – a scary thing for Cuomo – we could make these decisions ourselves.  But, ordered around like chickens running this way and that, with no convincing logic guiding policy, it has all been highly unclear what we can and can’t do and what will happen to us if we disobey, even while being careful.  It has been highly unclear and nerve-wracking.

Cuomo, ironically, has considered himself quite clear and sensible and even blasted his perennial enemy, NYC Mayor De Blasio, for allegedly being unclear and potentially putting New Yorkers into a panic with his use of the term “shelter in-place,” a term and a condition which Cuomo considered inappropriate.  Cuomo also threatened to press charges against the national government if the Trump administration implemented a tri-state lockdown, which Cuomo believed would be illegal.  Despite his showy defense of New Yorkers against what he portrayed as threats and illegal proposals from De Blasio and Trump, what Cuomo has done is hardly different from their suggestions and possible ideas.   However, since he’s the one making the commands, we’re not supposed to consider his ideas to be threatening, illegal, or unconstitutional.

It has been nerve-wracking not to be able to behave as we individually determine to be optimal and appropriate, and it has been nerve-wracking experiencing the shock of living in a dictatorship and the uncertainty of not knowing if or when these dictatorial powers will ever decline.  Making it worse is Cuomo’s remark, “You’re free!”  So is this the new freedom in doublespeak?  He calls this freedom?

It is not clear how Cuomo or any other similarly-mandating leader decided he could violate the 1st Amendment.  But guess what!  He was right!  No one has stopped him!  The US and state governments have no constitutional power to restrict people’s freedom of movement or their freedoms to attend school or not, to play or not, to work or not, and to wear masks or not.  But no one has stopped leaders over these matters either!  When Trump suggested that certain state governors, such as Cuomo, have been too harsh and oppressive, Trump and his concern about freedom have been put down as not in the best interests of health.  Where is it written in the Constitution that health concerns eclipse basic freedoms?  And where is the proof that the lockdown does not harm health?  For every life that might be saved by this lockdown, how many are crippled or even destroyed?

Of course, the democracy that supposedly exists in the US is a charade, as has been demonstrated by every single war the US government has fought, always without consulting the people, without informing the people fully and truthfully, and without allowing the people of either side of the conflict to present alternative non-violent problem-solving measures.  We have seen the executive branch of the national government thumb its nose at the Constitution and international law and get the media to be its cheerleader, but now our state governor and other governors are doing this as well – and no one is stopping them.

There’s nothing holistic or motherly about Cuomo’s approach to health.  And Cuomo’s not the only one.  If you read about how other national governments are handling this, such as South Africa, Israel, Russia, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines, there are even more horrifying, illogical restrictions on freedom of movement, and in some nations, the military, with its winning bedside manner, is being used to enforce the mandates.  In South Africa, police fired rubber bullets at civilians going to supermarkets.  They were supposed to starve to death, but not die from the virus!  In Uganda, motorbikers defying the lockdown were shot by police and hospitalized.  In India, civilians may also be shot if they do not comply.  Israel is also using its army to enforce the lockdown.[12]

Odd that they’re so very scared of a virus that has mild or no symptoms in 80% of the population.  A virus that kills only 1 – 3% of those who contract it, and less than 0.4% if you’re under 50.  Why so jumpy?  Why so tense?  Perhaps they’re from the ungentled rat colony.

Even at PetSmart, I walked in without a mask, fully intending to keep six feet apart from others, and I was informed that there is a sign on the door (which I did not see) saying that everyone in the store has to wear a mask.  I was also told that the governor had signed an executive order basically stating that it is required to wear masks in public.  I clarified that the order stated the masks are required in public only if one is within six feet of others.  I was informed – in this store that was almost completely bare of people – that it is practically impossible to walk in that store without coming closer than six feet from others.  Funny, to me it seemed quite simple.

I was then told that they have to protect their associates, most of whom, I noticed, are in their twenties or thirties, the age bracket with the 0.2% likelihood of dying if the virus were contracted.  I replied that I was observing the six foot distance.  I wondered to myself, why the fear so disproportionate from reality?  Did their associates have hypertension or diabetes?  Were they afraid of spreading it to a more elderly family members or friend?  Did they not wash their hands before leaving work or upon arriving home?  Were they afraid I would come closer and breathe on them?  I told them I would not be coming back.  They’re astronomically over-priced anyway.

I was furious.  Note that we not only have a governor seizing power, but we now have stores re-interpreting his orders and placing even tighter restrictions on customers.

The order requiring face masks and the stores’ interpretation of that order are both deplorable.  They deprive individuals of the freedom to decide what is best for their own situation.  They create a very scary image of a society in the midst of a plague as in Outbreak, which is simply not the case.

But what is most sinister is that these incremental mandates train the public, step by step, into compliantly accepting more and more orders that deprive them of more and more freedoms.  It almost seems orchestrated:  “If we can get them to do this, then we can get them to do this.”  What will be the next freedom to fall?

Of course, the fact that our leaders are clueless about the elements of optimal health is not surprising, given the lack of government concern over human tendencies to light-heartedly overpopulate and pollute the globe, and given the society we have with its lengthy hours of compulsory sedentary schooling and lengthy hours of work – all requiring the bulk of the hours of one’s day, leaving very little time for joy, love, friendship-making, recreation, freedom, proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep, and rendering the Western world a society with a high level of mental illness and hypertension.

While it’s so easy to be angry with these leaders, they are actually at the mercy of their own brains.  Let’s face it:  people have strengths and weaknesses.  The breed that is attracted to power and that has the wealth and connections to succeed at winning power, while it may have some remarkable talents, is usually not comprised of the type of person who has any greater-than-average levels of psychological insight and mental and emotional perceptiveness.  Hence, the topics of health, human relations, love, peace, joy, and the environment are out of their league.

Cuomo may genuinely want to be saving lives.  His statements indicate that he believes that by maintaining the lockdown, he is defending the elderly against business leaders who think only about profits.  Yet his statement could be only for show, for he has proposed billions in cuts to Medicaid next year rather than raising taxes on billionaires who are said to have contributed greatly to his campaign.[13]  Moreover, the state in which he has left hospitals for years shows no concern whatsoever for the elderly.  Whatever his motivation, Cuomo’s mandates are hurting a lot of people both physically and mentally.  Some cannot afford to buy food.  How can he paint opposition to the lockdown as corporate greed?  Or is that a ploy to make it a case of good Cuomo vs. evil opponents?

If he really cares, he’s got to open his ears and care about all of us.  Plus, if he had focused on helping the vulnerable from the start, instead of making us all suffer, he could have used the resources of his personnel, the Health Department, energy, and finances to home in helping the vulnerable.  Instead of giving relief funding to failing businesses and unemployed Americans, that money could have gone towards funding for hospitals and nursing homes, hiring more doctors, nurses, and other staff, training, beds, and equipment.  Perhaps funding could have been allotted also to personal shoppers and home health aides who’ve washed well, are dressed in sterile clothing, and who have already acquired natural immunity to COVID-19 and who could personally help the vulnerable.

Instead, with so many orders going out left and right, telling businesses, schools, veterinarians, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. what they can and can’t do, his administration makes faulty policies.  As a friend recently pointed out to me, a March 25, 2020 order to nursing homes required them to expedite the admission and readmission of patients from hospitals in order to make room in the hospitals for COVID-19 patients.  Funny thing is, the order prohibited nursing homes from requiring that these patients be tested for COVID-19.  Therefore, COVID-19 had an easy entry to the nursing homes, where more than 3,000 have died from COVID-19 across the state.[14] [15]  In short, the elderly in nursing homes have not been allowed to have visitors, but patients with COVID-19 could be admitted.

The problem is that the type of people attracted to power end up using their power-way of looking at things to try to solve problems.  Hence, the US government tries to bring peace by waging war while oblivious to the gamut of psychological, biological, environmental, societal, political, and economic effects of war.  Now in their effort to bring health, nations and states are mandating lockdowns, while oblivious to the psychological, physical, and financial effects of a lockdown.  They pass measures to have a suicide hotline and think that will take care of any psychological suffering.

For many of us, it is easy to see how current mandates could lead someone into anxiety, depression, and/or suicide, especially someone who is already geared in that direction, and especially someone who depends upon working or socializing in person – not merely by using current technology – in order to feel that life is worth living or to afford food and bills.  But for macho leaders who believe that missiles create peace and social distancing and lockdowns create health, they just don’t get it.

Have you noticed the immune system isn’t even talked about by the governments who are supposedly trying to protect us?  It’s quite odd.  In those health alert phone calls from the county and those messages from the governor, we’re not encouraged to get plenty of rest, eat well, have lots of Vitamin C, read a book to a loved one who is sick, and do fun things to keep our spirits and immune system strong.  No, no.  First of all, we’re not supposed to be together.  If someone in our family gets sick, we’re also supposed to isolate.  Shun them!  I suppose that’s why nurses are underpaid and hospitals in the Albany Capital District are short-staffed with nurses:  the leaders on top don’t see the value in the bedside manner and love.  (Of course, some nurses don’t recognize this either and are more bent on bossing patients around than transmitting love, warmth, and kindness.)

Another way to strengthen the immune system is to actually contract the virus.  Presumably, this would make us stronger for the next version of this coronavirus that comes around which could always be worse.  But the idea of our developing immunity to this virus and others like it by contracting the virus is nothing that is encouraged.  Why not?  Why do governments not want us to develop natural immunity?  Are they hoping to stop the spread so that we don’t acquire natural immunity?

They seem to hope to someday artificially vaccinate us so that human technology – not our natural immune systems – overcome the virus.  Plus, some will make money off the vaccine, something which would not be possible if we acquired natural immunity.  Some even want to give us digital identities within our bodies.  That will keep us under control!  Then they’ll really be able to make sure we’re behaving in ways that keep us safe, healthy, and free.

With the lockdown, the virus is not able to pass through the community.  The lockdown has slowed its spread but also slowed its departure.  Do Cuomo and other state and national leaders expect to completely eradicate the virus from their jurisdictions forever?  Don’t they think it could circle back in and strike those who didn’t get it the first time around?  Have they considered the pros and cons of letting it pass through a little more quickly while protecting the vulnerable so we can all come out from hiding sooner?  I do not know the answer, but it seems a shame not to consider this question.

And addressing hypertension, diabetes, and obesity to make people less vulnerable to death?  Is that on the agenda?  In the macho government’s mind that is focused on war, that idea is just ridiculous, it’s almost as bad as an admission that something is wrong on our side that we need to fix.  It would be like saying that US foreign policy might have had something to do with 9/11.

When government is led by people who believe peace requires war and health requires oppression, we’re on a very bad road to peace and health.  We’ll never make it.  Of course, there is always the possibility that war has not been waged for peace and this lockdown is not really about health.

  1. The Dangers of High Concentrations of Power and the Lack of Empathy Towards Those Who Disagree

So much power in the hands of a few is frightening and dangerous.  No government should ever have the power to create a lockdown or violate their nation’s constitution and the International Declaration of Human Rights.   No government should have the right to force children to go to school or to force them not go to school.  And no government should ever have the power to bomb another nation or city to smithereens, to create or use nuclear weapons, to kill thousands, and to displace millions.

So much power in the hands of a few is not only dangerous:  it’s ineffective.  The problem with heavily centralized power – whether in government or business, large or small – is that it ignores the intelligence and value of each individual and family and thus leads to blanket decisions for them all that are uninformed, sloppy, ineffective, callous, and sometimes cruel.  The centralized economic power of Communism has been ineffective because one government cannot know the individual economic needs and business interests and skills of each household.  Cuomo’s bag ban is ineffective because it ignores the fact that many households reuse these bags to line waste baskets, to line leaky boots, and to pick up pet poop.  Those households will now have to purchase plastic bags.

And Cuomo’s mandates are ineffective because they are endangering the health and mental health of New Yorkers whose minds and lives he cannot fathom.  He thinks everyone can adjust and be “tough” for an unknown period of time, when he does not have a clue as to how others’ minds and lives operate.  When your government is not truly representative, when you have one breed in power, when you don’t even seek the opinions of those you wield power over, you’re going to make some serious mistakes that harm the populace.

Look at the CDC’s recommendations for the elderly.  They suggest that the elderly stock up on at least thirty days of groceries so they can stay home for twenty-nine days straight.[16]  First of all, getting out is often extremely healthful for the body and mind.  But secondly, it’s clear that CDC members do not do their own grocery shopping or cooking.  Show me some fresh strawberries, bananas, mushrooms, green peppers, eggplant, and potatoes that can last thirty days without getting moldy or sprouting eyes.

And are they expected to freeze all their raw meat?  It doesn’t last thirty days without freezing it.  How do they deal with expiration dates on dairy products?  Or aren’t we supposed to worry about death from bad food and death from lack of fresh fruit, only death from COVID-19?  Are they supposed to be eating from cans and boxes for thirty days?  I can’t imagine my parents being as healthy as they are now if they hadn’t been leading an active lifestyle, getting outside, washing their hands whenever they come home, and eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and homemade cooking.  But the CDC wants them to sit quietly on the sofa for twenty-nine days, eating canned or moldy food?

Are CDC members going to help Grandma and Grandpa with the finances and transportation to buy a second frig to store thirty days of food?  Are they going to buy them a trailer and hitch it up to bring home the thirty days of food?  And the bags!  What type of bags will they be allowed to use on this grocery trip, for those rules keep changing, too.  And is this one grueling day of shopping intended to exhaust Grandma and Grandpa so they’ll want to sleep for the next twenty-nine days?  Will stores require them to wear masks, too?  Even if it interferes with breathing?  What if it confuses any of the elderly who have dementia?  What if it makes anyone faint?  What if it brings on feelings of claustrophobia or confusion?

At least the CDC made recommendations rather than orders.  But their recommendations illustrate that people shouldn’t be making orders – and perhaps not even recommendations – for other people whose lives they don’t understand.

When you have a government, such as Cuomo’s New York State government, that mandates a lockdown of 100% of the workforce, shuts down all schools, mandates social distancing, and now mandates facial masks, you take away freedom from individuals and from families who likely have individual information about their own lives that is critical to their making optimal decisions for their health.

This family might know:  “Our son has to hang out with his friends or he’ll kill himself.”  This individual might know:  “I have to keep working or we won’t have money for food and to pay our heating, phone, water, and insurance bills.”  “My grandmother needs to see me or she’ll become despondent and listless.”  Suicide is the most severe outcome, but other negative outcomes include a rise in depression, anxiety, insanity, domestic violence, violence, poverty, malnutrition, and ill health.

Blanket lockdowns and mandates dismiss the diversity of needs and personalities within the population.  For some people, their job is the bane of their existence.  For others, it is their life.  For some, living in solitude is a blessing. For others, it is a trigger for suicide or violence.  Why, with a virus that is by and large mild, when acquiring immunity could be beneficial, when it is known which people we should especially protect, should those who may commit suicide or suffer significant harm from a lack of job or lack of socializing be required to trade their lives for the sake of possibly reducing the chance of spreading COVID-19 to others which could possibly save lives?

As one friend wrote, “This lock down has turned crazy!  I keep hearing people say the cure is worse than the affliction…. Amazing how easily liberties can be stripped away.  Shocking.”

Macho leaders are not listening to these voices.  They are not giving respect to individuals and families to make these decisions themselves.  They are not trusting those they govern.  They lack empathy and understanding for those they govern.  They don’t understand the rage and despair driving their protests.  Just as US leaders perceive Afghan and Iraqi resisters as malicious and ignorant of the blessings of liberty, just as US leaders refuse to consider Mid-Eastern resisters’ rage over injustice and despair over killing, US state and national leaders now erroneously perceive resistance to their COVID-19 orders as nothing more than recalcitrance, disobedience, selfishness, ignorance, and a challenge to their authority.  When will leaders grow enough to listen to those who resist their orders?  Better yet, when will leaders listen before they issue orders?

  1. Oppression Kills: The Hypocrisy of Not Wanting to Overwhelm Hospitals While Accepting Years of Overwhelmed Health and Mental Health Systems

The hypocrisy of this sudden caring for life is maddening.  We are supposed to be “strong” during the lockdown to prevent the deaths of 1 – 3% of those who contract the virus, those who have health weaknesses such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.  Yet this lockdown preys upon the weaknesses of other people:  those who already suffer from depression and anxiety, those who depend upon their jobs to give them a sense of purpose, identity, and a reason to live, those who need to see their friends and socialize in order to find joy and a reason to live.

We are being pitted against each other – life against life.  Job loss – the last I heard was 22 million Americans had lost their jobs[17] – can be a strong factor provoking poverty, starvation, and/or suicide because of the loss of income and the loss of purpose and identity.  If the governor and other state and national leaders were to listen, they would hear some Americans saying, “I feel useless without my job.  I hate feeling useless.  I miss going to work.  I miss the social part of work.  I miss having my own paycheck.  If I don’t have a job, I’ll be in a dangerous state of mind.”  Our leaders think the suicide hotline will solve that problem, but, while it’s better than nothing, it won’t solve the problem.  People considering suicide because of job loss need their jobs, not just a phone call.  Our leaders care about preventing deaths from COVID-19, but they don’t give a damn about preventing deaths from the lockdown.

Supposedly, Cuomo is taking these drastic actions to slow the spread of the virus in order to not overwhelm the hospital system.  “The hospitals will be overwhelmed!”  Heaven forbid!  But in New York State, hospitals have been overwhelmed for years.  As historian and peace activist Larry Wittner writes, insufficient hiring of adequate numbers of nurses have left nurses overworked – often not wanting to go home at the end of their shifts because they know patients need help.  According to Albany Medical’s management, there is a shortage of about 200 nurses.  This is, writes Wittner, despite the fact that Albany Medical Center is a wealthy institution and its CEO makes millions.[18]

NYS hospitals are so under-staffed they are said to be “cut to the bone,” with some patients left lying in their waste for hours, waiting for a nurse who is overworked and can’t get to everybody when they need help.[19]  These are the hospitals in the state of the governor who currently claims to be defending the elderly against businessmen who care only about profit.  When it comes time to be discharged, patients have to wait for hours, which can be highly stressful for some, for there are not enough doctors to get through the rounds in a timely manner.  And if you have a mental health crisis, don’t bother going to Albany Medical Center on the weekends.  They have funding for psychiatrists only on weekdays.  Plus, there is that mysterious, scandalous death that occurred in their emergency room in 2018 of a man whom they medicated and restrained because he was acting belligerently.[20]

Why was our heroic, commanding governor not concerned with these problems?

Emergency rooms and urgent care centers have also been overwhelmed for years.  The lack of doctors and beds means you have to wait a long time to be admitted, often more than an hour, and then you must hastily depart so that they can have doctors and beds for others.  Frankly, it feels like we’re living in a Third World country, not the “mighty” USA, touted as “the greatest nation in the world” by various US presidents.  Of course, what would they know about the daily life of the general population?  Presidents and governors probably have their own personal doctors who see them within fifteen minutes.

One of the most angering aspects of the hypocrisy of Governor Cuomo and other leaders who say “one life lost from COVID-19 is too many,” is the horrendous state of mental health care in New York State, and, from what I have heard, across the country.  We must lose our jobs so as not to overwhelm hospitals, because people may suffer and die.  Yet the mental health system has been overwhelmed for years – within NYS and across the country.  In NYS, you have to be on a waiting list for months behind hundreds of other New Yorkers to see a nurse practitioner or psychiatrist.

There’s a nationwide shortage of psychiatrists, and bureaucratic rules hamper access to nurse practitioners.  It’s almost impossible to get a prescription.  For those with high levels of anxiety that is unresponsive to talk therapy, nature, spirituality, music, art, and exercise, marijuana on the black market can be a saving grace if it’s not laced, but then you take your chances with being arrested for such a bad thing as trying to relieve your anxiety.  So, in this society that’s quick to punish and slow to care, you’re compelled to turn to the unhealthy alternatives of alcohol and cigarettes, which the alcohol and cigarette companies certainly appreciate.

Once again, it feels like this is a Third World country.  The inaccessibility of prescription providers is the same feeling of going to a supermarket and finding all the shelves bare.  Mental health care is not at all what it’s made out to be – as if help for depression is just a phone call away.  This is a cruel, glitzy hoax.  It’s largely unavailable for months.  Your insurance – especially if it’s Medicaid – may not cover many providers.  Many providers are inept or unkind even when you do manage to get an appointment.  Some places never return repeated phone calls.  Often you’re put in circles.

Lastly, one of the greatest reliefs of anxiety, depression, and certain other conditions for many people is marijuana, but, thanks again to rulers on top who make laws for people they don’t understand, this is illegal.  The alcoholic President Nixon was one leader firmly against marijuana.  Even if legal in some states recreationally or as medical marijuana, it is not covered by insurance because of the federal ban and is very expensive.

Nor is there is truly any effective safety net to prevent suicide.  Sure, there is a suicide hotline, which is a positive step.  But how can that take the place of the lack of caring friends, the lack of joy, love, adventure, and purpose, and the lack of a suitable prescription?  How can a phone call take away the anxiety and depression from school and work?  Most suicides involve a person with a personality disorder, and the most common personality disorder found in evaluations of those who have committed suicide is borderline personality disorder.  But suicide prevention and hospital stays have not been found to be effective in preventing suicide in BPD.  In fact, hospital stays can be counterproductive.[21]  Nor has medication proven effective, thanks to the scarcity of research funding.  What helps is a specific type of highly compassionate therapy related to Buddhism that was developed for BPD, but there is a nationwide shortage of experts talented in those therapies and in that attitude.[22]

Even if a mental health patient does manage to acquire a prescription, it doesn’t necessarily help, thanks to the paucity of funding for research and a reliance on shallow, profit-driven research of pharmaceutical companies.  So where is the federal funding for mental health research?  Perhaps the fact that $700 billion goes to the military in one year alone has something to do with the lack of funding for other aspects of life that are left to crumble.  In 1986, it was reported that more than 60% of the federal budget for research and development is allotted to the military.[23]  The National Institutes of Health are slated to receive about $40 billion in 2020.  Why should the military receive 20 times that amount?  Are we 20 times more likely to die from foreigners as we are from poor health and poor mental health?  If the military gave the NIH half its budget – $350 billion – would more Americans live or die?

America’s top scientists are compelled to devote extraordinary amounts of time and brain power – not on their research – but on applying for health research grant money in a highly biased, competitive system where scientists’ applications are evaluated by none other than their own competitors – the ones who’d like to win grant money themselves.  I bet your talented science students never knew they’d be channeling their brilliance into grant applications.  Why doesn’t the military have to submit a grant application for each battle?  Why doesn’t the CIA have to submit a grant application for each time it wants to fork over yet another suitcase filled with millions of dollars to a Mid-East or African warlord?

But what does any of this and the resulting lack of mental health research and care matter to our governor?  There are no alarm bells tears for the millions of Americans whose anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies are not treated.  Those deaths are evidently inconsequential.  These people were evidently deemed second class citizens even before the lockdown, and now they’re third class citizens – with less access to help and a loss of some of the few aspects of society that kept them going, including socializing, recreation, and work.  If you’ve been trying to keep a loved one safe from suicide for years and have found no real help from the mental health professional community, it comes as a slap in the face to have Cuomo insisting that one death from COVID-19 is one death too many!  We must shut down schools and businesses to save lives!

And if your child has been suffering from sleep deprivation, excessive schoolwork and homework, and cold alienation at school that has been plunging her life into misery and her thoughts to suicide, it comes as a slap in the face when schools are all shut down – not for the sake of your daughter – but for potential COVID-19 patients.  Why weren’t schools reformed for the sake of children made miserable within them?  Why no easing of hours, work, and crowded conditions?  Why no emphasis on time for friendship-building and the reduction of alienation?  Why not a much greater emphasis on the goals of inner peace, love, and joy?  Isn’t that what we’re suffering from most?  Or are we suffering from the inability to divide 4560 by 3?

It is only death from COVID-19 that matters.  Why?  Perhaps because this has become a personal fight of Cuomo and other leaders who have staked their status on “winning” this “war” against a virus or out-rivaling another leader in their strong-arm, weak-brained handling of the pandemic.  But in that case, they are not trying to save lives for the sake of saving lives.  If they wanted that, they could have started long ago.  They are saving lives for the sake of their own reputation and rivalries.

COVID-19 is estimated to kill between 1 – 3% of those who contract the virus.  Compare this to borderline personality disorder (BPD), which is often misdiagnosed as another condition, such as bipolar disorder.  Dr. Blaise Aguirre, Medical Director at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital reports that BPD affects 2 – 6% of the American population – that’s an estimated 6.6 – 19.7 million Americans out of a population of 328.2 million.

90% of those with BPD will attempt suicide.  10% of those with BPD will succeed.[24]  People with BPD have an average of three lifetime suicide attempts.[25]  Where’s the nationwide shutdown to save these 6.6 – 19.7 million people from misery and to save the lives of 660,000 – 1,970,000 Americans?  Which of those government leaders so firmly committed to saving lives has lifted even one finger to help those with suicidal BPD?

BPD expert Marcia Linehan of the University of Washington describes BPD as resulting from the combination of an emotionally vulnerable person experiencing an invalidating atmosphere.  This sensitivity is biologically based.  Elaine Aron, an expert on highly sensitive people, explains that these individuals are neurologically wired to perceive much more of everything – light, sounds, smells, touch, and emotions, as well as the complexity and nuances of thoughts.[26]  Unlike macho leaders who are callous, obtuse, and proud of their blanket mandates, those with BPD, being often emotionally “porous,” are wired to perceive – not only their own feelings – but often the feelings and energies of those around them.

These highly perceptive individuals are an important part of our species.  Yet upon being plunged into an atmosphere that dismisses, ridicules, ignores, or represses their emotional needs and perceptions, as in a harsh or negligent household, compulsory, standardized schooling, and the current highly insensitive lockdown, BPD can make its appearance.

Frequently, the invalidating atmosphere involves trauma, such as the death of a parent, but it is not unlikely that an atmosphere such as school and many work places where one serves as an unappreciated, powerless cog in the labor force could also prove to be an invalidating atmosphere.  After all, if a child hates going to school, isn’t it emotionally invalidating to force him to go?  If a skateboardist knows he needs to skateboard to feel life is worth living, isn’t it emotionally invalidating to fill in his park with sand?

Persons with BPD experience severe emotional pain, a confused and unstable sense of identity, feelings of emptiness, self-hatred, depression, anxiety, and doom, emotional dysregulation, an alienating fear of abandonment by friends and family, self-injury and chemical addictions to alleviate intense emotional pain, and other self-defeating behaviors, including social self-sabotaging and suicide.  They may be cutting themselves, traumatized by addictions, and torn by agonizing emotional pain and social trauma throughout their twenties, but they’re not in the clear at 30.  The mean age for suicide is 30 according to one study, and 37 according to another.[27]  So those in their 30s who have BPD have a 0.04% chance of dying from COVID-19, a 90% chance of attempting suicide, and a 10% chance of killing themselves.

When borderline symptoms flair, typically in times of social stress and alienation, those with BPD especially suffer.  I suppose the government will pat itself on the back that it has round-the-clock people on the phone to help those contemplating suicide in this time of mandated social isolation.  As if Dan Furniss in the UK really would have been saved by a phone call from a stranger.  Now that hospitals are largely shut down for those who do not have COVID-19, it is even harder for anyone with mental health difficulties to receive hospital care in times of crisis or near-crisis – if it could even help more than hurt.  Units are shut down because of COVID-19.  Counseling is allowed only online or by phone.  Only deaths from COVID-19 matter!

There is a nationwide shortage, not only of psychiatrists, but of mental health professionals highly skilled in understanding and treating BPD.  There is a shameful lack of funding for BPD research, despite its higher frequency of occurrence in the population relative to other mental health conditions that nonetheless receive more funding.  This illogic also pertains to the lack of funding compared to other threats to life that are less likely to endanger Americans.  As Dr. Aguirre points out, BPD gets about $6 million of funding in a year.  Yet COVID-19 is slated to receive $2 trillion with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.  And again, our military now receives more than $700 billion in one year to allegedly save our lives.

Think!  Why is there no perspective here on the potential likelihood of death from each source of threat?  Americans are much more likely to die from poor health and mental health than from terrorism or WMD – real or imaginary – in the Middle East.  It’s not that the US has to completely let down its guard, but why not do away with elements of the US defense that make things more dangerous rather than safer, such as the trillions allotted under the Obama administration to the revitalization of the nuclear arsenal or the maintenance of 800 military bases worldwide?  Is the US government so shaky about the reliability of its conventional arsenal that it requires nukes?

Or are deaths due to foreign enemies just a lot more fun to prevent because we get to use guns?  Are deaths from COVID-19 more rewarding to prevent because of all the media attention that can give leaders more status?  Perhaps deaths from mental illness, hypertension, and diabetes are something we are supposed to simply accept as inevitable, for preventing those deaths bring neither guns nor glory to our political leaders.  Why is no one making the effort to create a budget that proportionately reflects the severity of different threats to American life?  Why are people lying in their waste in NYS hospitals while millions are handed over in suitcases to warlords in Somalia?  Why is a BPD patient who’s more likely to die from suicide required to forfeit his life for COVID-19 patients?

It appears that those who have mental health disorders are considered inferior by Cuomo and other leaders, and we are supposed to accept their deaths as regrettable but inevitable – or maybe as their own fault.  And after all, we always have the prison system waiting for them!  An estimated 17% of the prison population suffers from BPD, which, incidentally, is considered a relative of PTSD.  Surely, the prison system is just what highly sensitive individuals need to feel better.[28]  But those who die from COVID-19 – well, that’s just not supposed to happen, even if they did have weaknesses in their immune systems or underlying health conditions, these people are supposed to be alive!

As society worldwide has become increasing emotionally invalidating with its industrialization, urbanization, standardization, bureaucratization, fast-pace work ethic, compulsory schooling, impersonal methods of socializing, and judgmental tendencies to hate and condemn rather than help and understand, it is likely that the percentage of the population with BPD will increase.  While research on helpful medication for BPD is essential but shamefully underfunded, conceivably, a reversal of these societal trends would also be an enormous benefit to those with BPD or with a predisposition towards BPD.  Such a societal reversal would likely help the entire species and the planet.  So, as stressful as the current oppressive lockdown is, if and when this lockdown is ever over, it would be life-saving if care could be taken to not put things back together again exactly in the same stressful way they were prior to the pandemic.

  1. The Hypocrisy and Inequality of Valuing Some Lives and Not Others, Accepting Some Deaths but Not Others

For a tough, trigger-happy, killing nation, the US has a surprisingly enormous fear of death – or is that what makes it kill so much?  Irrational levels of fear, just waiting to be channeled somewhere?

If people really want to save life, why not stop waging war?  Why not stop the so-called War on Terror?  Or is the US thirst to kill not satiated after killing 300,000 Mid-Eastern civilians and 250,000 Mid-Eastern resistance fighters since 9/11?  The numbers indirectly killed from the war’s resulting disease, contaminated water, starvation, and blown-up infrastructure probably is in the millions.  In a US shedding tears for coronavirus victims, why such alacrity to send troops to kill, to be killed, or to survive only to live in the hell of PTSD?

The Washington Post reports that the first Americans in the military to be tested for COVID-19 will be those in the nuclear forces and troops deployed in combat zones.[29]  By all means, US government!  Don’t let us keep you from the killing fields!  Get back to taking people’s lives away from them!  Enough already of this saving lives thing!  It was cute, but we know what you’re really after!  And so glad you’ll save us from the virus only to plunge the world into nuclear radiation and pollution from your wars!  Now if you can just get some of that nuclear material up in space, then we’ll be really prepped for good health and a final generation of deformed babies!

For a nation that suddenly values each and every life, the US sure faces with stoic apathy the looming extinction of human beings from human-produced climate change – which itself can breed more deadly viruses.  Why no mandates banning fossil-fuel-run cars?  Why no ban on bio-fuel whose production has caused food prices to soar?  Why no cars and buses with pedals, where passengers can use pedal power to generate battery power?  Wouldn’t that be helpful for preventing obesity, diabetes, and hypertension?  Why no massive creation of bikeways?  Why no moratorium on cattle farms to cease production of methane, a greenhouse gas?  Why no shutdowns of factories to cease emissions?  Why no recognition that the US military is the biggest user of fossil fuels in the world?  Why no downsizing of the US military and its 800 overseas bases?  Why no lockdowns on war, the massive destroyer of life and massive polluter of Earth and now space?

And why no value for non-human life?  In the lockdown, the ability to care for our pets has plummeted as vets and groomers are no longer offering services such as nail trimming, apparently according to NYS requirements.  They won’t even trim your dog’s nails in the parking lot.  So if dog owners don’t learn this task fast, their dogs will be suffering from painful walking that could lead to bone and spine misalignment.

You can’t even go into the vet’s office with your pet anymore.  They want you to wait outside in your car while they take your pet in.  It doesn’t matter that the pet is shaking hard with fright and they have to drag it in across the asphalt parking lot, this is what the macho governor wants because he’s decided what’s best for everyone.  The state gives the veterinarian requirements – apparently they continually fluctuate – that limit the number of staff and any other persons in the building and, if I understand correctly, that requires them to conserve certain materials as well.  It doesn’t matter that there is a lot of empty space in that building where you could be closer to your pet, you’ve got to stay outside.  Undoubtedly, for some pet owners, it’s better to skip the vet appointments and forego examinations and vaccinations altogether.

But animals have been deemed inferior all along, haven’t they?  Why no alarm over the death of animals?  In his series of articles on extinctions, long-time Australian peace activist Robert Burrowes refers to a study by Dr. Kenneth Rosenberg that determined that the total bird population in the US and Canada has declined by 2.9 billion since 1970.[30]  He points to the tragic fact that “following the Industrial Revolution about 270 years ago which enabled the development of killing technologies on a scale unheard of previously, the human assault on life on Earth has accelerated so effectively that 200 species of life are now driven to extinction daily.  Whatever other claims they might make about themselves, human beings are truly the masters of death.”[31]

This is not merely 200 individuals dying per day.  This is 200 species dying per day.  Why no alarm bells for them?  Why no nightly statistics?  Why no shutdowns to help ecosystems survive?  Is it too much to ask the masters of death to care for any species and any habitat other than their own?  To prevent global warming and pollution?  Why no shutdowns of mines?  Cessation of pesticide usage?  Stoppage of excavation and construction?  If it was so easy to shut down 100% of the workforce, why no command to stop the destruction of habitat?  Where is the willpower?

According to World Animal Protection, 70 billion farm animals are slaughtered annually for human consumption.  Often, their lives are grotesquely miserable and their slaughter is equivalent to torture since some remain alive through part of the process of being turned into human food.  Why the “one human life lost to the coronavirus is one life too many,” but 70 billion farm animals can live in hell and die in pain annually?

From where does this callousness originate?  Is it the residue of some human-made religion in which humans decided that humans are superior?  Or is it this the usual do-anything-for-a-buck mentality?  The good-businessman-makes-increasing-profits work ethic?  Is it the we-have-to-keep-up-with-the-competition-or-I’ll-lose-my-job-as-the-CEO mentality?  Or is it the it’s-not-my-job-to-worry-about-that mentality?

The sacred way in which human life is held as compared to the wretched disdain for animal life is hypocritical and revolting.  It alone proves the inferiority of the human species, a species whose brain has evolved in a most imbalanced manner.

  1. Media: The More You Watch, the Less You Know

What’s eerie is that the feeling for the past month has been strangely reminiscent of the time prior to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.  We have the same one-sided propaganda, the small, like-minded panel of experts, the argument filled with holes, the government’s successful pushing of its program despite the holes, the cheerleading media, the crowd that goes along like a flock of sheep, and the few maverick resisters who don’t have a voice anyway in a mainstream media that leaves them out in the cold.  It feels the same now as it did then:  the feeling in the air, the dynamics.  In both cases, it’s highly disturbing to realize that millions of people can so easily be convinced to do something that is harmful to so many, without any questioning of the argument allowed.

In 2002, the US government and its puppet media were not debating, not discussing, but just telling us why Bush Jr. was so right in wanting to invade Iraq.  After all, say macho leaders, peace requires war!  Peace requires that we bomb that nation to oblivion in order to knock out any possibly dangerous weapons it just might have!  We don’t settle injustices and grievances through discussion and policy changes!  We don’t improve human relations and alleviate enemy fears!  We kill them!  We use our technology!  That’s how we make peace around here, boy!

It was totally illogical.  Whether or not Iraq had nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, the response of a US invasion did not make sense.  If they did have weapons, wouldn’t it be practical to talk with them and learn why they wanted them?  After all, many nations have dangerous weapons and we don’t attack them.  The US has 4,000 nukes.  Isn’t it possible that US nukes make other nations insecure?  Why not focus on how to make Iraq – and more importantly the US – feel secure without resorting to such weapons?  How would attacking Iraq create peace anyway?  Wouldn’t the invasion just sow more distrust, anger, hatred, despair, anxiety, depression, tension, poverty, injustice and death – all elements for creating a violent society?

Yet despite the irrelevance of whether or not Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the media churned endlessly around that topic:  Did it or did it not have WMD?  The solution?  Just in case it did have WMD, bomb them to smithereens!  That was the macho solution, the solution of those who really have no clue on how to build friendly, caring, and fair human relations as the foundation of peace.  It’s also the solution of those who hope to make profit from war and reconstruction.

It was the same after 9/11. The entire focus of the conforming media was “Attack on America.”  The US was portrayed as 100% innocent victim, not only on 9/11, but for the decades before and after.  While 9/11 was entirely illegitimate and immoral, US media took no time to delve into any possibly legitimate motivations driving the anger and despair of terrorists.  The media and government, unwilling to interview alternative perspectives, seemed incapable of separating the illegitimacy of 9/11 from the existence of legitimate terrorist concerns that should be addressed.  It was also incapable of separating al-Qaeda, which primarily recruited Saudis and Yemenis, from Afghanistan, whose government was opposed to the use of its territory for purposes of planning attacks on the US and was largely kept in the dark.[32]  Instead, we got our homogeneous macho response again:  Bomb the daylights out of Afghanistan!  That’ll create peace!

And prior to and during the Persian Gulf War we got the same monolithic panel of experts repeatedly interviewed for their expert macho opinions.  Those Mid-Easterners and Americans with non-violent proposals were effectively silenced.  How do we solve the problem of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait?  Threaten Iraqis and bomb them to death!  That same macho response.

The Persian Gulf War was also the start of a heightened state of military censorship over the media which created a highly skewed version of the war and its alleged necessity, a skewing that effectively made media coverage false.  In fact, a study on media coverage at the University of Massachusetts by Morgan, Lewis, and Jhally demonstrated that the more time that people spent watching TV news about the war, the less they knew about it and the more they supported US government’s behavior.  Only the military and other war leaders were interviewed, not Iraqis, not American peace activists, and certainly not Mid-Eastern peace activists.  The sounds-and-lights show of the war gave the impression that everything was beautiful.  No debate, dialogue, or dissension about the war’s purpose was aired on mainstream media.[33]

Currently, the threat on the horizon is a virus, and the same monolithic media coverage continues with zealous efforts to interview repeatedly a small group of similarly-minded experts to jam one message down our throats:  “Do as we say.  COVID-19 is dangerous.  Do as we say if you want to survive.  We alone know how to handle this.  Trust us.”

We are faced with a threat much like the threat of al-Qaeda:  it hides in shadows, it doesn’t have a home address, it doesn’t wear a uniform, you don’t know if it’s in your presence or not, you don’t know who to trust and when to let down your guard.  Also like al-Qaeda, it doesn’t kill a large percentage of people.  But these kinds of threats seem to give the executive an excuse to take lots and lots of power away from the legislature and from the people, as if concentrating power into one man will somehow save us any better than if we used our own brains and hearts.

As in 2003, when focus was on whether or not Iraq had WMD, the focus now is on the uncertainty of the virus.  In both cases, the conclusion is that we’d better be safe than sorry by taking drastic actions.  But once again, the big picture is lost.  There were other means to respond to Iraq that could have been more effective, more just, and much less violent.  And the same holds true for the reaction to the virus.  In both cases, the negative consequences of government behavior are cavalierly dismissed as worth the benefit of the action.

And the threat is always ramped up to keep the population frightened and submissive.  Even the fact that this virus is so mild for at least 80% of the people and often doesn’t show symptoms – in other words, it’s not troubling you in the slightest – is paraded not as a saving grace but as a danger of the virus:  Since you don’t know if you or your friend are carrying it because it often causes no problems or symptoms, you’ve both got to don those masks!

But doesn’t the fact that you may likely carry it without symptoms suggest that it isn’t worth a massive lockdown?  Isn’t the fact that it was floating around NYC since January without being detected, a sign that perhaps it wasn’t that bad?  Yes, protect the vulnerable, be especially careful around them, but why a lockdown?  Is it possible that all the stress from the mandates, oppression, and social isolation has increased the death rates?

There is no coverage of those who have had milder cases of the virus and handled it well.  There is rarely mention of the fact that the reason New York State has such a high rate of people who have contracted the virus is because of the extremely high level of testing which is not done elsewhere.  We are told, “There is no vaccine” to the point that Americans are repeating the line, “There is no vaccine,” all the while forgetting that there is no vaccine for the common cold (another type of coronavirus) and the flu vaccine often doesn’t even work well, all the while forgetting that we do have that special something called “The Immune System,” which in most cases is working very well to overcome the virus.

The media inflates chronic fear – which can wear away at the immune system – with its fatality numbers.  Even though there has never been nightly media coverage of the numbers of Afghans, Iraqis, Somalis, Pakistanis, and Yemeni killed by the US, the numbers of animals killed that day, the numbers of people who died from starvation or malnutrition, the number of people who died from a disease for which there is a vaccine, the numbers of Americans killed by the flu that day, or the numbers of Americans who committed suicide, we are given the numbers killed that day by The Virus.  And so, people are left with the daunting image, “The numbers keep going up!  Oh, my God!   Run and hide!  Don your mask!”

As of April 23, 2020, there have been 2,665,122 confirmed cases and 185,494 deaths worldwide of COVID-19.  In comparison, the World Health Organization reports that the flu annually kills between 290,000 – 650,000 worldwide.

In the US, there have been 867,771 confirmed cases and 48,900 deaths from COVID-19 .  For the flu season from October 1, 2019 through April 4, 2020, there were 39,000,000 – 56,000,000 cases and 24,000 – 62,000 deaths in the US from the flu.[34] [35][36]

This is not to say the COVID-19 couldn’t kill more, especially if people weren’t being careful, but the point is, COVID-19 deaths are certainly going to stand out as alarming if those are the only numbers you post each night.  If we had lockdowns and closed down school and people got more sleep each year from October through April, we could cut back on flu deaths, too.  Till now, no one has thought it was worth doing so.  But why not work on those things that will help everyone’s immune system?  Like enabling people to get more sleep, go to school in uncrowded conditions, and have more time for joy and friendship?  Like not rushing kids and adults back to school and work if they’re still not feeling well from a cold or fever?

Incidentally, people seem to put a lot of faith in these masks as deliverers from death.  One man was crossing the street with a mask on, looking down at his phone, never looking for cars.  Did he think the mask would protect him from being run over?  And then rounding the corner in the dark coming off a bridge, I nearly ran into three people walking abreast – no lights, no reflective clothing, no light clothing – but in my headlights I could see they had on their safety masks!  The bridge desperately needs a sidewalk, but, as with so many things in this country that do not relate to the military or to COVID-19, there’s no funding for that.

The media paints the picture, as usual, that what our macho leaders are doing is right.

Just as the media has cheerleaded the US government’s every war with one-sided propaganda, the media has now been pumping up Cuomo as a beloved hero.  The New York Times even force fed us the nauseating news that “Andrew Cuomo Is the Control Freak We Need Right Now.”[37]

We are told in our newspapers that, despite the alleged American love for freedom, we love Cuomo, we love how he takes command, and we are even told his commanding ways would make him a great president!  Americans for Macho Monarchs!  We are told his bullying ways are just what we need, and we are told Americans don’t mind his bullying ways because we believe that leaders, in order to be effective, have to be headstrong, uncooperative, and bossy.  In that case, why not just light a match to the Constitution?  Let’s just turn our backs on any understanding of effective dynamics in democracy!

Clearly, power obsessions, an inability to hold dialogue with those with different opinions, years of neglecting hospitals and their patients, eliminating thousands of hospital beds, ignoring the tragic mental health crisis, and proposing to cut $2.5 billion in Medicaid, including $400 million to NYS hospitals – a step that would make NYS ineligible to receive $6.7 billion in federal aid for COVID-19,[38] have been mistaken as leadership qualities rather than as indicators of ineptness and a lack of caring for others.  Though we are not supposed to know this, people who are kind, cooperative, and open-minded, people who care about different points of view and can find the strengths in each one and meld them together – these people not only can bring results but they can bring much more effective results.

Unfortunately, if anyone disagrees with the adulation for Cuomo or any other macho leader, you can count on it that it’s censored in the mainstream media, just as my letter was censored, just as those with alternative, non-violent solutions were kept out of mainstream media prior to and during nearly every war the US has ever fought.  How can the crowd be manipulated if it is allowed to see the full truth and make up its mind given all the information?  The masses must be given only a narrow segment of the truth so that their opinion will form from that, and they must be persuaded that every other American feels the same way.

The media performs yet another disservice by not searching for the complete set of motives driving behavior.  When we look at past US government behaviors, such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the invasion of Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf War, or, jumping back a few centuries, the extermination and forced round-up of the Native Americans, the same elements continually re-surface as factors driving the government’s decisionmaking and the population’s behavior:  rational fear, irrational fear, arrogance regarding the government’s ability to know best how to handle the situation, ignorance, suppression of non-violent and non-hostile solutions, conformity and groupthink, and greed.  Somewhere in there is greed – someone’s making money somehow.

I don’t know whether the reaction to COVID-19 is part of a larger plan of oppression, part of a plan to make a lot of money, an experiment in worldwide crowd control for use again at some later date, or just plain stupidity and arrogance of macho leaders who think that health can benefit from oppression, but different people are probably filling different roles.  Some are rationally fearful, some irrationally fearful, some are macho, some are focused on opportunistically using the pandemic to acquire greater status and power, some are genuinely trying to do what’s right but are ignorant, some are groupthink conformists, some stifle opinions, and some surely are unethically making money.

  1. An Ideal Approach

I am not suggesting that there should have been no government reaction to the virus.  I am not even suggesting the reaction should have been merely mild.  But the reaction should not have been severe and blanketlike.  It should have been moderate with much more freedom for individual decision-making and individual judgment calls that could save lives and sanity and keep people out of starvation.  It should not have relied on anxiety and depression-producing, potentially lethal mandates as the centerpiece.  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. comprehensive, detailed education about COVID-19 from a variety of scientific and social perspectives, that includes teaching which types of people are most vulnerable and must be most protected as well as specific details about ways people can voluntarily adopt to avoid spreading the virus and to strengthen their immune systems,
  2. cooperative dialogue, especially with those who might be affected by mandates and with those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, to gather a variety of perspectives on potential government, business, school, and individual actions to strengthen natural immunity and to protect the vulnerable.
  3. democratic decision-making within government, businesses, and schools, with time limits for actions so that the group process does not cause costly delays,
  4. the issue of government recommendations, rather than mandates in most cases, regarding schools, businesses, homes, travel, shopping, and recreation with regard to COVID-19, comprehensive health, and immune system strength,
  5. freedom, respect, and flexibility for individuals, families, schools, and businesses to make their own creative decisions and judgment calls to achieve optimal health and minimize risk for all from all types of threats to life,
  6. dynamic help to protect, comfort, and nurse the vulnerable, while carefully teaching steps to avoid spreading the virus to the vulnerable,
  7. federal funding to support the vulnerable parts of the population at this time, especially those who should stay home from work and cannot earn an income,
  8. great attention to improving the health of those with hypertension, diabetes, lung disease, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and other health conditions that create vulnerability to the virus, with medication, lifestyle changes, and societal changes to help create more balanced minds and balanced lives, a sense of meaning, love, inner peace, and joy within a caring, relaxed community of school, work, and neighborhood,
  9. recognition of the importance of acquiring natural immunity and studies of the benefits of natural immunity,
  10. use of those who’ve acquired immunity to carefully help the vulnerable,
  11. great attention to all the elements that help strengthen our immunity, including love, positive touch, joy, purpose, recreation, exercise, nutrition, hydration, cleanliness, sleep, nature, freedom, and peace of mind,
  12. increased federal funding for health and mental health research and improved systems for grants to promote society’s health, justice in awards, and optimal use of researchers’ time,
  13. increased funding for the mental health field to alleviate the shortage of talented, compassionate, and intelligent providers and to increase access of all members of the population to such providers, regardless of insurance,
  14. increased funding for hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities in ways that place a strong priority on the importance of caring, bedside manner, human relations, compassion, logical thinking, and training, and with care that funding is not used to support luxurious salaries of a few,
  15. critical steps to prevent global warming, to prevent war, and to prevent harm to animals and ecosystems.

NOTES:

[1] Aria Bendix, “Coronavirus patients over age 80 have a death rate of 15%.  Here’s the death rate for every age bracket,” February 27, 2020, www.businessinsider.com.

[2] Jessie Hellmann, “CDC:  80 percent of US coronavirus deaths are people 65 and older,” March 18, 2020, thehill.com.

[3] Roni Caryn Robin, “Nearly All Patients Hospitalized with Covid-19 Had Chronic Health Issues, Study Finds,” April 23, 2020, www.nytimes.com.

[4] Karina Zaiets and Ramon Padilla, “Coronavirus, diabetes, obesity, and other underlying conditions:  Which patents are most at risk?” April 15, 2020, usatoday.com.

[5] Zaiets and Padilla, op. cit.

[6] Ashley Montagu, Touching:  The Human Significance of the Skin, (2nd editionNew York, NY:  Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1978), p. 61 quote, pp. 77-79.

[7] Montagu, op. cit., pp. 12-14.

[8] Montagu, op. cit., pp. 19-20.

[9] Jack Elson and Hayley Richardson, “Bipolar man, 34, with diabetes killed himself after begin pushed over the edge due to loneliness when he was forced to self-isolate during coronavirus, family say,” DailyMail.co.uk

[10] Kacey McKinnon, Kusi News, April 20, 2020, kusi.com.

[11] Ann E. Weiss, Biofeedback:  Fact or Fad?, (New York, NY:  Franklin Watts, 1984), p. 42.

[12] Karsten Noko, “The problem with army enforced lockdowns in the time of COVID-19,” April 2, 2020, www.aljazeera.com.

[13] Akash Mehta, “Even in Pandemic, Andrew Cuomo Is Not Your Friend,” jacobinmag.com.

[14] Order from Governor Andrew Cuomo and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, March 25, 2020, Coronavirus.health.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/03/doh_covid19-_nhadmissionsreadmissions_-032520.pdf.

[15] Rory Butler, DailyMail.co, April 21, 2020, “Coronavirus patients are being readmitted to nursing homes in New York after testing positive despite risks of spreading infection – and Governor Cuomo didn’t know,” dailymail.co.uk.

[16] Jessie Hellmann, “CDC:  80 percent of US coronavirus deaths are people 65 and older,” March 18, 2020, thehill.com.

[17] Adrian Croft, “American companies laid off 22 million within the past month.  Europe chose a different path,” April 20, 2020, fortune.com.

[18] Lawrence Wittner, “A Boss is a Boss:  Nurses Battle for Their First Union Contract at Albany Medical Center,” December 10, 2019, www.laprogressive.com.

[19] Mehta, op. cit.

[20] Steven Cook, “Police ID man whose Albany Med ER death prompted investigation,” November 12, 2018, dailygazette.com.

[21] Joel Paris, “Suicidality in Borderline Personality Disorder,” Institute of Community and Family Psychiatry, McGill University, May 28, 2019, Montreal, Canada.

[22] Joel Paris, op. cit.

[23] National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All:  Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the US Economy, (Washington, DC:  National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1986), p. 75.

[24] Dr. Blaise Aguirre, Borderline Personality Disorder in Adolescents, 2nd edition, (Beverly, Massachusetts:  Fair Winds Press, 2014), pp. 15-16.

[25] Joel Paris, “Suicidality in Borderline Personality Disorder,” Institute of Community and Family Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Canada, May 28, 2019.

[26] Elaine N. Aron, The Highly Sensitive Child, (New York, NY:  Broadway Books, 2002).

[27] Joel Paris, op. cit.

[28] Aguirre, op. cit., p. 16.

[29] Missy Ryan, “Military plan to roll out covid-19 testing would prioritize nuclear forces and troops deployed in combat zones,” April 20, 2020, The Washington Post.

[30] Robert Burrowes, “Our Vanishing World:  Birds,” TRANSCEND Media Service, December 23, 2019

[31] Robert Burrowes, “Our Vanishing World:  Wildlife,” TRANSCEND Media Service, December 2, 2019

[32] Fawaz Gerges, The Rise and Fall of al-Qaeda, (New York, NY:  Oxford University Press, 2011).

[33] Hamid Mowlana, George Gerbner, and Herbert I. Schiller, Triumph of the Image:  The Media’s War in the Persian Gulf – A Global Perspective, (Boulder, CO:  Westview Press, 1992), Michael Morgan, Justin Lewis, and Suh Jhally, “More Viewing, Less Knowledge,” George Gerbner, “Persian Gulf War, the Movie.”

[34] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov.

[35] www.health.com.

[36] Wikipedia

[37] “Andrew Cuomo is the Control Freak We Need Right Now,” March 16, 2020, The New York Times, www.nytimes.com.

[38] Mehta, op. cit.

______________________________________

Kristin Young Christman has degrees in Russian, Slavic languages, and public administration from Dartmouth College, Brown University, and the University at Albany.  She is a contributing author to the forthcoming anthology, Bending the Arc:  Striving for Peace and Justice in an Age of Endless War (SUNY Press, June 2020).

This commentary was first posted at laprogressive.com on April 26, 2020.


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 4 May 2020.

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