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    Although a defense against COVID-19 surely will be developed, if human ingenuity has not already found one by the time you read these words, we should bear in mind that this “novel coronavirus” is merely one of many of Earth’s micro-weapons, an arsenal that includes Malaria; Lyme Disease, which is caused by a bacterium that is passed to us by a tick that in its most infectious life cycle stage is no larger than the head of a pin; Ebola; Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV; Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS; Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS; and Zika, West Nile, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a trio of viruses that infect us, as does Malaria, through the bite of an insect that, until recently, was considered, at least outside of the tropics, to be little more than an annoyance. I highlight these diseases to emphasize the point that the most significant threats to our health and well-being likely are not our fellow humans or any of the plants and animals that inhabit Planet Earth, nor are the most significant threats large and obvious, but rather are tiny -- so tiny that we do not even know that they are with us until we are under attack.

    Attacks from at least some of these microbes, particularly those that are mosquito-borne, likely will become more frequent as the planet warms and tropical conditions expand poleward, bringing with them the vectors that previously have found temperate latitudes too inhospitable to their liking. While remedies might exist for many of the diseases that these microbes cause, we can be sure that many unknown diseases, as COVID-19 was just months ago, will appear, and therein, I suspect, lies an important warning: that we humans are devastatingly ill-prepared for an assault from Planet Earth’s deadliest and most far-reaching weapons, tiny though they might be.

    To better prepare for future assaults from the tiniest, most far-reaching and deadliest of Planet Earth’s weapons, we would do well, I suspect, to spend a bit less of our energy and resources, both intellectual and monetary, on the means to vanquish our perceived human enemies and a bit more on the means to protect ourselves from such microscopic, yet potent, enemies as COVID-19. Rather than investing in walls to prevent people from passing between countries, we should invest in virtual, pharmaceutical walls to prevent pathogens from passing into our bodies. Instead of stockpiling warheads, perhaps we should be stockpiling face masks and protective clothing and gear so that our armies of health care professionals and first responders are adequately safeguarded as they battle future micro-enemies. Recognizing that diseases know no geographical boundaries, nor the differences between dark-skinned and light-skinned, between “nations of infidels”and “axes of evil,” between socialists and capitalists, or between democracies and autocracies, perhaps we humans should turn our focus away from mutual assured destruction and toward mutual assured survival. To that end, perhaps too we should tread more gently upon Mother Earth while investing in remedies for the various illnesses that we have caused her, for by so gently treading and striving to cure what ails Mother Earth, and by focusing on our mutual survival, perhaps the Earth can be saved, not by a deadly pathogen meant to repel an otherworldly invader, but by human ingenuity, by our determination to right past wrongs and to avoid those wrongs in the future, by our capacity for compassion, and by our ability to extend that compassion not only to one another, but also to the non-human residents of Planet Earth.

     Perhaps we humans can restore our home, Planet Earth, to something that more closely resembles the green and peaceful planet that it was before we began to step so heavily upon it. Perhaps then we also can avoid Mother Earth’s future wrath and finally be done with wars between worlds, however large or small those worlds might be. We owe it to the Earth and to those who will inherit it to at least try.

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... perhaps too we should tread more gently upon Mother Earth while investing in remedies for the various illnesses that we have caused her, for by so gently treading and striving to cure what ails Mother Earth ...

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