Louis Pasteur discovered that bacteria and germs in our environment causes disease. This must have come as something of a shock to the denizens of Victorian-era drawing rooms, to discover that they were literally crawling with little bugs, but probably not as much of a shock to East Enders.
Following this shock to their system, our drawing-room club began a two hundred pitched battle against the invisible interlopers with the end result of little Billy being bathed anti-bacterial hand soap after playing with the neighbor’s dog.
However, we have now discovered that NOT having bacteria and germs in our environment causes disease. Sigh. So just what is a home-school mum supposed to do?
Okay, stop there. Actually, I am in no position to tell any home-school mum what to do. Props to all the mothers out there, you are what keeps society and the world together. That being said…
Did you know that you have at least three or four POUNDS of bugs in your stomach right now? These bugs are what help you digest food and keep healthy, and are you one part of an a diverse ecosystem that you carry around on and in your that keep you alive (including my favorite example to bring up at dinner parties, little worms that live in the follicles at the base of your eyelashes).
By scraping and preening and sanitizing ourselves, we are rapidly shedding this organic layer of little friends, and to our general detriment of health. Some bugs are bad, but most bugs, especially the ones that have evolved along with us in our homes, are good. See, you are not just you. You are a vast collection of things, and exactly how to tell where “you” ends and “not-you” begins is a tricky thing.
In evolutionary terms, yesterday’s groups are today’s individuals. We’ve all been indoctrinated by the ‘survival of the fittest’, while in truth, the majority of the story of evolution has been about the symbiotic synthesis of organisms into greater wholes than just a game of who-eats-who. You are made up of countless billions of single celled organisms that have decided that their long-term chances of survival are better living as Bob the Plumber than spread out across a forest floor.
Going further back, mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells, were obviously separate organisms at one point (in fact they carry their own DNA which is passed on maternally, the Judaic organelle). Almost all cell organelles probably started out as different organisms, that then got together to form cells, which cells got together to form you, and so on. Get the idea?
So when you’re scrubbing down your house in antiseptic cleaner this weekend, just keep in mind that you’re killing off a little bit of yourself in the process.