Saturday, November 9, 2019

#313 / Thoughts On A Door Handle

The photo to your right shows the doorway leading out from a men's restroom at UCSC. The second photo shows the condition of the floor. I can testify to these conditions. I was there!

In fact, I have used that doorway quite a bit, and the doorway condition pictured is not unusual. If a wad of slightly wet paper towels has not been left on the door handle, as pictured, it is likely that a similar wad of towels, wet or dry, will be found on the adjacent floor, where they have been discarded by whomever felt that germs on the door handle are an existential threat to good health. 

There is a significant debate about whether a strategy of maximum germ avoidance is, in fact, protective of good health, or whether that approach to disease prevention actually undermines the opportunity of a person's immune system to learn how to identify and destroy the germs that might otherwise cause an illness. The debate often centers on the protections needed for babies. Click that link to read all about it.

I want to assure those reading this blog post that I do wash my hands frequently. I practice basic cleanliness and good hygiene. However, I do not hesitate to touch doorknobs or door handles that others are also certain to have touched. I am, in other words, in the camp that suggests that we should trust our immune systems to protect us, and that human efforts to improve upon our natural systems of disease prevention (using those sanitary gels, for instance, now found almost everywhere) are not only likely to be futile, but may even be counterproductive. 

As I reflect upon this thought upon a door handle, I realize that it mirrors my general understanding of how human beings should relate to nature. We should assume that nature will take care of us - that there is something very real in that "Mother Nature" metaphor. 

When humans try to "improve upon nature" the result is generally not what we hope. 

This goes for a lot more than door handle avoidance. Most of modern society seems to be based on the same, dubious, premise - that we know better than Mother Nature. 

I beg to disagree!

Image Credits:
Gary Patton personal photos

1 comment:

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