Against the Machine–Miriam Sagan

I’ve had many adventures recently. I flew for the first time since the pandemic. Two minutes into the trip I fond myself sobbing as TSA patted me down–first once, then twice, in a private area. Well, I was an accident waiting to happen and by the time I was told I had “residue” on my constantly washed hands and that I’d set the machine off by wearing a dress, I was in nervous tears. “Everyone cries” the TSA lady said in a calming attempt.

She was obviously not a bad person, but what kind of system is this? Like most systems, hard on women in dresses–traditional, modest, or chosen. Like contemporary systems, promoting the machine, including cell phones, computers, and imaging devices, not as helpful tools for life but as technological gods we must placate and please.

I had an opposite experience waiting for my flu shot yesterday. A woman in her eighties, wearing a beautiful medallion of the Virgin, started chatting. Her hugely pro-vaccine stance reminded me of my Jewish mother, despite the obvious differences. “My mom had a cousin with polio,” I offered. “And she was ecstatic when the vaccine came out.”

“I had polio as a child,” the lady said quietly. “A mild case. My right leg doesn’t work well and my left is over developed but I’ve had a long and good life.”

“How can people not get the Covid vaccine?” she asked. We shook our heads. Here was a miracle of technology that works, and yet people reject it.

Acceptance isn’t the last refuge of failure, but it isn’t my go-to either. I’m treading a narrow path between my trust in critical thinking and my need to not judge humanity every minute of the day.

It’s nice here in New Mexico in autumn. Th oak tree my son-in-law planted by the mailbox is turning a gorgeous red.

I’m well aware that more than one thing is happening at once–and I hope that in your world many of those things are good.

It Is All Your Fault: Vaccines, The New Age, and Blame

Imagine a well loved voice in feminist spirituality, a writer who has inspired many. At the age of seventy she posts on her Facebook page the gratitude she feels for the covid vaccine.

What happens? Did you guess it? She is attacked and reviled. For not using herbs and supplements instead, for trusting medical science, and for generally having sold out.

When I saw this–it really happened–I was not surprised.

The so-called New Age can be horrendous around illness and death. This goes far beyond the vaccine. Try getting cancer and posting your medical treatment. You will soon be blamed, critiqued, told your bad thoughts make you sick, told alternatives work better than chemo, etc. etc. No one in this group of critics will offer love, caring, food, or company. Instead, you will be shamed. Try having a close friend, or partner, or family member die and get ready for MORE blame–they should have done this, that, etc. This distancing from death is not only cruel but insane.

But where does it come from? To be honest, the medical establishment itself ALSO denies death, offers painful and expensive (and useless) life extending treatments, and can be a fan of tests and protocols that do absolutely no good. However, as the alternative healing community presents itself as an antidote to that, the disappointment is great when it fails.

The society at large–both mainstream and counter culture–fears death and denies it in an unusual degree. Death is not seen as part of life, but as pathology. Separating the physical from the spiritual in an extreme way–thanks to thinkers from Plato to St. Paul–degrades the body and everything associated with it (sex, pleasure, child-bearing, hunger, suffering, death–perhaps even the treatment of animals) and often simply refuses to engage in these arenas.

In New Age thinking–this means that falling ill and dying are the FAULT of each person, a failure, rather than the our common biological lot.

Here is my checklist for thinking about this.

Is the view codependent? (i.e. do you care what other people put in their bodies, attempt to control their actions, feel there is only one way–yours?)

Is the suggested regime expensive? Is it covered by insurance? Is it limited in time? If not–be wary. (And you might note the vaccine is 1-2 shots, and free).

Is this magical thinking? Is it wishful, unlikely, anecdotal, and is its use based more on fear than efficacy?

I apply this to mainstream medical choices, too.

My advice to you, gentle reader: when someone you know is suffering do not blame them or advise them (unless asked). Help them. Be sensitive to what that person believes, rather than your beliefs. Offer food or a ride or a listening ear. You do not have to solve anything. Company, in the long run, is what most of us require.

PS. If anyone posts comments along the lines of “giant lizards disguised as people have taken over New Mexico” or “the vaccine is Bill Gates’s way of putting you in the Matrix” it is likely I will erase them!