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As Australia belatedly learns to live with COVID-19 and opens her borders, there are lessons to be learned from the rest of the world.
This freedom we have been longing for comes with responsibilities. Responsibilities that we have always had, but which are now of far greater importance.
Back in July, I wrote an article about the Mix of Six: six pillars of health that constitute the anti-cancer way of life as documented by Dr. David Serban-Schreiber, Dr. Lorenzo Cohen, and his wife, Alison Jefferies. Although they reference cancer in their work, the reality is that they are suggesting a way of life that builds a body that is hostile to illness, whatever the form.
The six pillars are as follows:
>> Love and social support
>> Stress and resilience
>> Rest and recovery
They are all important, but the foundation, they suggest, is the first one. Attending to all the other aspects without the love and social support is akin to building one’s house upon sand.
This has been resoundingly brought home to me over the last few months as I have watched, from afar, a friend deal with the ravages of Covid. My friend—let’s call him Ted—was a robust, fit man in his late 50s. He was double vaccinated and conscientiously lived a Covid-safe life. Nevertheless he contracted a severe case and spent 12 weeks in the ICU, many of those weeks unconscious and on a ventilator.
This is where the love comes in.
His wife—I’ll call her Julia—decided to keep a daily Facebook diary, partly to keep his friends, dispersed throughout the world, up-to-date with his progress. More importantly, she was saving the daily minutiae and the incredible messages of love, support, and encouragement for Ted to read upon his return to consciousness.
Julia was remarkable in her strength, devotion, love, and belief. She gathered us all together, wherever we were, for distance healing sessions, guided visualisations, and general loving focus. I’m sure she had her times of fear and despair, but her belief in Ted’s love of life and will to recover remained steadfast throughout.
A miracle occurred.
Ted’s seemingly irreparably damaged lungs began to recover. He emerged from his sedation, initially with a certain amount of fear: unable to speak, walk, or even breathe as he used to, due to a tracheostomy. Life seemed scary, but he applied the six pillars—beginning to walk again, eating for the first time in two months, learning to talk, constantly building his resilience as he surmounted difficulties. And always, he had Julia by his side and hundreds of daily messages from his friends—willing him on, celebrating every small step with him, cheering from the sidelines.
Almost the first words Ted spoke (or rather, whispered) were to thank his friends for the support and encouragement, which had meant the world to him. Julia recorded a video of him, and tears were shed around the world.
The message in all of this? There are several.
First, the importance of building love and social support first. For most of us, it is the rock upon which our world is built. It drives our will to live and gives meaning to our days.
Second, the whole world has pinned so much of its hope upon the development and delivery of the vaccine. We are in danger of creating a two-tier social system: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. Our medical personnel and politicians are beginning to refer to Covid as “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
The vaccines, developed in record time, are marvelous. I truly believe that everyone should get the shot. But they cannot do everything.
Enter the responsibilities I spoke of earlier.
In this seemingly post-pandemic world, each of us needs to take some responsibility for our own continuing health and well-being. It is not the job of the government, or even medical professionals, to do it for us. We need to take control of our health, and the six pillars outlined by Servan-Schreiber, Cohen, and Jefferies provide a good starting point.
To complicate matters, our planet is also in crisis. It is surely no coincidence that the six pillars also offer our best chance of living in alignment with the needs of our environment.
We can think of both the pandemic and the climate crisis as disasters that have unfairly struck us out of the blue. Or we can regard them as the outcome of generations of living without thought for consequences. Generations of pursuing greed and growth at the expense of everything else. Generations of handing over our individual power and responsibility to others.
So we need to take a crash course in personal accountability. The famous Alcoholics Anonymous prayer asks for the serenity to accept the things that cannot be changed, the courage to change the things that can be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference. This, and the six pillars of health, could advantageously be adopted by every individual. If we are to create an environment that supports our continued survival, each of us has a part to play.
And our responsibility begins with love.