As of Sunday, April 18, 2021, wearing masks in open spaces is no longer mandatory in Israel. For some time now, new cases have been dropping and hospitals are growing emptier as more patients leave for home and far fewer come in. The majority of the population is inoculated and it seems as though Israel has defeated COVID-19. I wish it were that easy, but I understand that this cannot be the case. We haven’t completed the process that instigated the arrival of the virus, so I am certain that if not COVID, something else, worse than COVID, will come along and pick up where COVID left off.
I’m not trying to scare people, but we need to be aware because awareness can help us prepare, and if we don’t prepare, it will hurt much worse. The current vaccines are like aspirin; they treat the symptoms but they don’t cure the disease. And since the disease keeps developing regardless of the symptoms, the next time it breaks out, its symptoms will be much worse. As long as we keep trying to suppress the symptoms, our solutions will be temporary and will end up with worse outbreaks of the illness once they stop working. If we want a real defeat over COVID, as opposed to the current, illusory one, we must uproot its cause.
The root cause of COVID, and of virtually all our problems, is emotional rather than physical. More specifically, it is social rather than individual. The sickness is not in each person individually but in the whole of society. However, in each person, the same sickness manifests in different ways. Just as COVID can manifest in many symptoms—sometimes so unrelated that physicians fail to detect that they are caused by the coronavirus—this root cause generates many illnesses that seem unrelated, yet stem from the same septic seed.
That cause is social alienation. Social alienation, which has worsened dramatically since the turn of the century, is depleting our emotional strength and physical resilience, draining our spirit from optimism and hope, and makes life seem purposeless.
Without hope, people have nothing to live for. They sink into depression, substance abuse, commit suicide, or seek refuge in violence, as the U.S. has seen over the past few months, with 147 mass shootings since January, according to CNN. We may not all feel pathological symptoms, but we should have no qualms about it; we are all affected. Our physical health deteriorates, our mental health declines, and our spirit becomes drained.
We’re making great efforts to legalize drugs in order to make life’s burdens easier to bear, but we’re not making any serious efforts to remove the burden altogether, even though we can. If we remove the burden of alienation, we won’t need to disconnect from reality into a dream world since reality will be great, positive, optimistic. Who wants to disconnect from life when there are great promises ahead and a clear path to achieving them?
If we start focusing on human connection, bonding, increasing mutual understanding, empathy, and mutual responsibility, we will dramatically improve every aspect of our lives. We will nearly eliminate depression-related disorders, all forms of violence will drop to near zero, people’s overall health and vitality will skyrocket, and crime will virtually disappear. Instead of feeling locked inside our homes, we will feel belonging. We will feel connected to our families, to our communities, towns, and to the country, and we will gladly share and contribute what we can to the overall well-being.
A society whose members feel responsible and accountable for one another truly cares for its townsfolk and countryfolk. Its members don’t need policing; their concern for one another guides them to behave not only in a civil manner toward others, but to actively seek the well-being of their community members. Think of where we are today compared to the kind of society we need to be in, and you will understand what harm we’re doing to ourselves through our mutual hostility.
Our hampered immune system, debilitated by endless attempts to protect ourselves from others’ ill will, is losing its ability to protect us physically. Thus, increasingly susceptible, we are becoming “sitting ducks” for viruses, which sicken us in droves. If we want to defeat COVID-19, and the viruses that will soon follow, we must focus on defeating alienation.
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