Day 221: The Things We Think We Know

Likely outnumber the stars.

I’m tempted just to end the post there.  Sometimes these thoughts sound much more profound when left without explanation or context.

And it is a profound thought, or a profound truth, and one worth remembering.  We think we know so many things, but then something happens and we realize, even if only for a moment, that we have much to learn.

I could apply this principle to any number of things.  I thought I knew torts well, but right now it’s the only section where I’m consistently scoring below the practice question targets.  I thought I knew con law, but I bombed the first practice set I did.  I thought I would never do well on property on contracts, and my scores on both have been above target.  I thought I knew people, but they constantly surprise me, in wonderful and terrible ways, sometimes even at the same time.  Once upon a time I thought I knew I wanted to do with my life.  I thought I knew who I was, what I was made of, what I could or could not do.  I thought I knew Donald Trump would never be the Republican nominee.

To be clear, I am not a skeptic, and I have little patience with people who claim to be.  Having a conversation with a skeptic is the only thing more annoying that having a conversation with an atheist.

I do believe I know some things.  I just don’t believe I know all things about all things.

This thought did not originate in some existential crisis.  In fact, it dawned on me while reading a Facebook thread discussing the Zika virus.  Full disclosure:  it was a thread in a closed Facebook group, specifically limited to mothers who want to learn more about living a “crunchy” lifestyle.  No, they don’t know my political views, and yes, they would probably kick me out if they knew.  I almost went to a conservative meeting the other week, but was afraid they would kick me out if they smelled the Kombucha on my breath. Whatever, it works for me.  Most of the time.

A mother posted a question about whether the threat of Zika justifies the use of DEET, and other mothers responded.  There were several posts about alternative brand bug spray (California Baby, Cutter, essential oil alternatives, etc.), and a few posts trying to figure out what in the world is actually going on.

I read the news.  I rarely watch the news.  I watch the debates.  Sometimes I watch important addresses by important people.  I watched when Pope Benedict left the Vatican. Mostly I read about these things.  We don’t turn on the TV during the day, but I can easily read a quick article if the kids are sleeping, or we’re in the drop-off line, or there is some other break in the cycle of rapid fire activity.  So basically after they go to bed.

Over the weekend I read a lot of articles about Zika.  We live in Florida now, and there are a lot of bugs I find absolutely terrifying.  Now I find out there might be a disease carried by mosquitos that could result in my children one day having children with severe birth defects?  And it is likely to come to this country, specifically the state where I live?  And I didn’t even know something called chikungunya existed, let alone in my state.

Interestingly enough, we were in an area before this where when the whole insane Ebola thing was happening, it looked like that could be an issue.  Not sure what I’m supposed to do with that, but that’s a topic for another day.

So what is Zika?  They thought it was something that would cause a fever and some discomfort in something like one in five people (this article says only 20% of people develop symptoms, but that’s not what I’ve seen in others).  Now, it’s linked to 4,000 cases of microcephaly, although according to one source the number will likely be less than one-third of that (and one doctor reported that the number of cases she’s seeing is declining) and people are paying attention.

I am a worrier, descended from a long line or worriers, at least where it concerns my children.  Over the years, I have, with great effort, learned to be more measured.  This is why I did not pack up my children and flee to Iceland when I read the first article on Friday.

The more I read, the more the frenzy seems to grow.  At the same time, there are other voices out there, voices begging us to look at other possible causes.  Could it be the environment?  Pesticides?  The new vaccine pregnant women started receiving?  The GMO mosquitos released to fight the Zika mosquitos?  Some perfect storm of factors?

Good questions.

The WHO has declared a global emergency or something like that, and pharmaceutical companies are scrambling to create a vaccine.  There is some discussion of releasing GMO mosquitos in the Florida Keys.  I’m trying to figure out whether there is some way to attach a large mosquito net to the roof so that it can cover our entire yard.  Maybe some sort of netting that can attach to a hat and cover the rest of our bodies in a net bubble would be helpful too.

I am not a science person, I am not a conspiracy theorist, and I am notoriously naive, but I do wonder about these things. Zika has been around for fifty years.  Why has there never been an issue with microcephaly before?  Why is it so concentrated where it is?  Has anyone who traveled to Brazil while pregnant, also had Zika and had a baby with microcephaly?  Why are some people questioning whether there is a causal connection at all?  Why can’t a clear connection be established?  Why do scientists act like they are so certain about things when they get so many things wrong?

I don’t know.  I don’t know the answer.  To any of this.  And I can admit that.  In some ways, it can be helpful to admit we don’t know things, because we can keep our minds open to possible alternatives.

I’m going to use my open mind to say a prayer for the babies and mothers and families, that they all get the love and care they need.















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