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Dear Friend,

Like so many, I have been caught in a whirlwind of shocking news and difficult decisions. I am only just beginning to get the measure of what is happening to me personally and to the rest of the world collectively.

Relentless fires, massive storms, droughts and dying polar bears had failed to call us into action; millions of displaced people massing at borders, running away from oppression, wars and cruelty had failed to shame us into sharing. Instead, what is shaking the world and forcing unprecedented changes is FEAR! No matter the privileges or ideologies, clear, present and invisible danger is dwelling amongst us all. Nothing else could have forced the ultimate sacrifice of renouncing individualistic choices and accepting lock-down, despite the cost and consequences.

I am writing this newsletter from Paris. I arrived over a week ago as France was slowly coming to terms with its nationwide “confinement”. I responded to my mother’s plight and volunteered to become her full time carer while she is nursing a broken arm. She lives alone with irreparable grief and Parkinson’s disease. It’s tough to accompany her on her solitary journey.

I observed how the now locked-down French people were strangely mirroring my own struggles to accept the repudiation of my personal liberties together with the loss of reliable gratification for the sake of safety (and the illusion of stability).
Routine sends us to sleep.

“Beware of the settee!” exhorts Pope Francis.

If both predictability and comfort are the enemies of self-actualisation, enforced self-sacrifice is a quick way out of complacency. Resistance is futile!

Giving up My Life to care for my mother is challenging. Doing it without a timeline makes me question if I will ever be able to gather my old life back to safety. Day by day, I grieve a little less and forgive a little more. Along with the other 67 million people forcibly locked-down in France, I am pushed into the moment.

Competition is only really possible when the environment is not uniformly and immediately threatening. In the current ubiquitous health threat, it is a luxury we can’t afford to indulge in. The menace spares no-one. The virus might spare us but the possibility of imminent demise is made universal by the exponential death-toll our governments intone at the end of each day.

Whatever our views on the handling of the health crisis, it has precipitated a paradigm shift from individualistic behaviour to mutualistic strategies. For better or worse, we are forced to stay at home and give up our pleasures for the sake of others.

It took me days to understand that lock-down was an act of civic engagement; that I was not taking care of my-self by (loosely) following the rules but taking care of my community (including my mother) by sticking to the rules. Initially, frequent trips outside for fresh air seemed a good idea but by the time we entered the second week, measures became more drastic: cycling was proscribed, exercise reduced to 1 hour (or 1 kilometre) of jogging around the block. Supermarkets had to enforce queues outside to limit the number of customers at any one time, while shopping with someone else (even if you were locked down together) was forbidden. I was incensed at the infringement of my liberties. Hard-earned freedom was being quashed! The police were given permission to assign increasingly punishing measures for infringements. The pain drove deep; nonetheless, I had to relent: rebelling wasn’t revolutionary, it was plain selfish.

All this altruistic surrendering doesn’t come cheap; in just two weeks the social dance of civilised interactions has been shattered into a confused and silent hustle of masked beings battling it out at the supermarket while laboriously respecting the prescribed two metres distance!

France is now entering its third week of social suspicion and fear-driven exclusions. I feel sure the consequences on human relationships will take longer to heal than perfecting a vaccine against Covid-19.

Social distancing could well leave deep scars in our collective consciousness. Fear may be what has brought the world to its senses but it is our individual responsibility not to let fear be our guiding force as we rebuild our communities. I hope that lessons will have been learnt and that we can create a future based more on respect, friendship, kindness and the willingness to share than competition. I believe our survival actually depends on it.

I will update you when I have a better idea of my whereabouts.
Rest assured I am more than ever committed to serving and supporting my community: initially, by sharing useful and relevant information; later by offering remote consultations.

I hope to be able to re-open the Whole Health Centre and my colonic practice as soon as the government allows it. Until then I am preparing myself by keeping abreast of research and working on a strict sanitation protocol to enforce between treatments to ensure that we are all kept safe and well.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with your comments or questions.

With my best wishes,
Anne-Lise.

 

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