What will the virus teach us about life?

Van Mensvoort
April 4th 2020

We live in turbulent times. Thanks to science and technology, we are able to perceive our environment down to the atomic level. We can read DNA, manipulate cells, cut and paste viruses. Humanity is a powerful and dominant species on the planet. It is tempting to think that we are becoming gods: Homo Deus. But this is a mistake. Every now and then, a microscopic organism talks back. It tells us: Stop, slow down, reflect, here I am.

What is the first thing every living being knows? It is part of an environment. Every living being relates to other living beings. Not only next to you, but also above, below and within you. That is, wherever you are and whoever you are; you are in the middle. The Earth contains billions of people. Our body is made up of billions of cells. Life consists of life. And you are connected.

Do you love nature? Good. But can you also love a virus? Not a viral video that spreads on the internet, but a tiny piece of molecule that creeps into your cells with a desire to survive and spread itself. A piece of life that replicates and infects our human body.

What is a pandemic for us, is a victory for the virus. And it seeks nothing less than total world domination.

We don't have to love viruses and parasites. These are evolutionary phenomena that show no empathy and do not deserve it. Nature can be sublime and beautiful, but also cruel and amoral. A virus is the most primitive form of life. It does not recognize us as human beings. It only sees as a colony of cells it can spread itself within and conquer. Different perspective. What is a pandemic for us, is a victory for the virus. And it seeks nothing less than total world domination. 

Are you already infected? You may think you’re clear, but think again. Are you still shaking hands? Where an outstretched hand used to be a sign of openness and contact, it has now become an act of aggression or at least a clumsy insensitivity. Even if you are healthy yourself and do not belong to the risk group, you can infect another, who then may infect a vulnerable person, with fatal consequences.

The virus is an infectious information pattern that affects not only our human cells. It made the crossover from gene to meme long ago. It mutates social relationships, disrupts the economy and even infects our psychology. Similar to the rabies virus that makes an infected dog more aggressive so that it will bite and spread the virus further, viral fear may cause irrational human behaviour – like the massive stocking of toilet paper – that stresses infrastructure that wasn’t under direct attack by the virus. 

Our position as the dominant species on the planet is being challenged.

The virus teaches us a lesson in modesty. Our position as the dominant species on the planet is being challenged. Not by artificial intelligence or an attack from Mars, but by a microscopic entity. Certainly, we are not gods. We are as vulnerable as ever. Despite our dominant position on Earth, humanity is just one of many lifeforms on the planet, with one perspective: the human perspective.

The virus makes us aware of other lifeforms with other perspectives, desires and needs. It also teaches us that we are one humanity. These viral invaders don’t discriminate on the basis of nationality, race, income, social status, political or sexual preference. We are together and must work together to overcome. Stay safe.

Thoughts? Share your views on the virus below 👇public: 1

22 comments

Matthew Tucker
Posted 03/04/2020 – 21:40

"It made the crossover from gene to meme long ago. It mutates social relationships, disrupts the economy and even infects our psychology."

Brilliant observations, as always!

happyheart
Posted 23/03/2020 – 02:24

I live in Mount Shasta, California, USA. This is the most meaningful article I have read regarding the virus.

Here are my two most helpful quotes.

"Our position as the dominant species on the planet is being challenged."

"The virus is an infectious information pattern that affects not only our human cells. It made the crossover from gene to meme long ago. It mutates social relationships, disrupts the economy and even infects our psychology."

Matthew Levin
Posted 19/03/2020 – 17:18

I thoroughly enjoyed this article! I identify, to a personal and visionary level (as a designer), with it's intention. So quick can we be proud to present understanding and control over an entity (be it a subject matter in school, a scientific breakthrough, a video game or monetary value) however we are part of a larger system: Life! Nature! I truly believe if we forget that we are given all of these precious materials to create/innovate and do not remain humble...we'll face a tough time. Great read! Hoping the best for everyone.

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What is your view on the coronavirus?


Siri Beerends: I really embrace the idea that viruses can teach us a lesson in modesty. It is necessary that our position as the dominant species on the planet is being challenged. I also agree that it is a mistake to think that we are becoming Gods. But unfortunately, this is actually what is happening now. Corona doesn’t teach us to be modest, it teaches us how we can -as quickly as possible- go back to business as usual: saving our capitalistic economy.

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