Bats, love and COVID-19.

Me in my bat t-shirt

There’s nothing more simple nor complex than love. Love is life-force manifest as relationship, the process of doing that makes life real and meaningful. I call this Fluminism.

Life is so strikingly complex; a dynamic weave we share no full comprehension, and perhaps never will. In our un-sapient attempt to shrink this world mentally and physically by rationalism, industry (including processed food), and trade, I do not think most could fully even imagine it.

We are evolved from the most exquisite resistance to, and acceptance of, physical, chemical, and biological forces. We have absorbed them, and them us, and the complexity is magnificent. Like hands around wet clay, they have shaped us down to the atoms within each beautiful cell.

But they have cost us dearly as we have evolved and adapted through generations, in the loss and grief of loved ones by mistakes, negligence, and more. And so it has been with viruses.

Since before we can fully imagine, viruses have existed as a shaping force. They emerged early, perhaps, as rogue genetic outliers, or even as replicating co-evolutionary beings, trying to come “home” to living organisms through time and space.

Unseen by our naked primate eyes, they invade, multiply, and spread. In doing so, they test us sometimes to destruction but strengthen our individual and collective immune systems through survival, adaptation, and diversity. They can even change cell proteins as speciation occurs.

Without viruses, there could be no us. They are as ancient as all life’s common ancestor. Viruses are critical to climate, and an intimacy; we are clearly symbiotic, but sometimes a profoundly painful commensal or mutualistic symbiosis.

Coronavirus forcing the disease now called COVID-19 is one of thousands to emerge from, bizarrely, the strong immunity of a fellow symling. In this case, and so frequently with various coronaviruses like SARS and MERS, bats. Coronavirus is a bat mutualistic symbiosis, largely beneficial to them by strengthening their immunity to other microbes. But now we have it,  and it’s killing those with compromised immunity.

Bats are exceptional mammals, high in metabolism for unique flight, long in age compared to other small mammals, surviving to forty years compared to less than a handful for most terrestrial rodents of the same size. They are beautifully adapted to nurturing one another in the same ancient roosts over millennia. Their sense of place and belonging is strong, and their ecological gift to the community is valuable in so many ways.

As in all sentient life, their distress causes the release of energy and cellular matter into the nagorasphere. This includes viruses.  We must now understand that bat-immunity is so powerful that it can hold strong against infections that would knock us down in an instant. Bats are distressed by us, with mass light disturbance, forestry logging, and ecological fragmentation via construction, so they shed virus, and the spread of infection multiplies. It’s inevitable this crosses into ecological communities in bat flolocas, including indigenous humans. When wildlife is trafficked for trade and consumption, the viruses follow, mutating and battling stronger to return ‘home’ to any suitable host. They find domestic animals too, especially the more intensely reared, before leaving shadows in our own biological matter,  hospitals, graveyards, and memories.

COVID-19 is not itself an expression of anything new. In fact, it is pure evolutionary force in our complex world. But its speed and reach in such a shocking short time, and the human curation and management of this spread is a huge mirror reflecting our own deficiencies and impiety towards indigenous and endemic lives, natural forces, and the biosphere. It reveals the shabby cracks of hostile competitiveness, the failures of fast international travel and markets, and false short-cuts away from inequity. But it also presents an opportunity for love, a crystalline perfection of compassion and hope. It may even spur a new era of Cherishism.

Helping one another is a healing thing. Vaccines will play a part in giving us the anti-bodies without suffering and death. They will help shape us without such huge pain and loss, even though our species will have evaded an evolutionary opportunity for genetic diversity. Epidemics seem inevitable in co-existence with all life in flolocas. But pandemics are there by way of destructive forces, globalised transmission, proliferated by the very same agents that cause Earth Crisis in climate volatility, human inequity, ecological shifts out of the norm for comfort or survival.

I will leave you with two critical documents that have helped me shape this post. I believe they are powerful, and if shared in common knowledge, empowering too.

First, a sobering and vital article by Jane Qiu posted at Scientific American on March 11, 2020. It unveils to us all the astonishing work of Wuhan-based virologist Shi Zhengli.

Remember her name.

Shi has been instrumental in physically tracking the source of coronaviruses, including COVID-19, to specific bat roosts, enclaves, caves, and flolocas. Her research and wisdom are necessary for discussing the ethical implications of intrinsic and extrinsic relationships with bats. Wildlife, livestock, and even nearby human life can find resistance over longer periods of time, but move or distress bats, wildlife, or domestic animals as reservoir hosts into novel populations, and the results are devastating. We need to learn about these complex flows, for-align them in daily life, and build them into our consciousness as we move away from the Anthropocene and into the Symbiocene.

Second is this critical appraisal from Berkeley Uni, California, of the astonishing superior immunity of bats compared to our own, which is pathetic by comparison. Bats can teach us so much on immunity, floloca, and in our own behaviours. Praximund must be shown towards them and for our own good too. And onwards into time.

As part of nature, we may respect the life of fellow symlings, the bats, and offer peace and protection for them. This will be difficult when habitats are valuable to expanding human populations. But it is a process we need to accelerate, to be ahead of any new curve of disease infection rate, instead of having to “flatten it.” We need to be ahead of any of the numerous other novel or bat-surviving viruses ever-patient in finding their moment to “come home”. Listen to Shi.

As in Earth Crisis itself, there’s a need to pull people towards this kind of love, rather than push, bully, and drive. An ethic of care towards food, water, energy, and shelter for all humans is important, and we must avoid abuse and trade going “underground”. True equity for all life will help solve this and in our responses to COVID-19. Offering structural love and Cherishism as New Measures is a good thing to come to all places, and soon.


Leave a Reply