I’ve been thinking a lot about germs and dirt recently. Maybe it’s because every where I go there’s disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer available. Perhaps it’s because the H1N1 virus has been headline news for months. Maybe it’s because I have a two year old who touches EVERYTHING and a mobile seven month old who wants to taste everything he touches. Maybe it’s also because there are eight people living in one house and I get to thinking about how we are exposing each other to a myriad of germs from all the places each individual has been.
Kris gets pretty bad allergies each year. Though they are nothing like what he experienced in Oregon (reinforcing his theory that he’s allergic to rain) they are frustrating to him. He was recently reading up on why allergies are becoming so common place in 1st world countries. One interesting theory he read said that that our bodies are made to fight off germs and illnesses. However in our ultra clean environment there is less for our bodies to legitimately fight. So it goes looking for a fight and becomes ultra sensitive to silly things like pollen and grass. The article argued that allergies such as hay fever show up significantly less in second and third world countries, where there are real germs to fight. Interesting.
A couple months ago I made the mistake of letting one of those vacuum cleaner salespeople into my home. She said she would clean one of my carpets for free…which is how they get in the door. What she didn’t tell me, while standing on the door step, that she had a two hour presentation and a $2500 vacuum! Yikes! Anyway, her main sales tactic was to try and scare that $2500 out of my pocket by showing me all the dirt that’s in my house, even after I use my cheap vacuum cleaner. She would lay out these black squares of fabric with piles of icky dust and fiber on the coffee table for me to stare at while she demonstrated all the amazing elements of this vacuum. The worst part was when she vacuumed a mattress and showed us what was picked up…what we sleep on every night. ICK! And then came the punchline, “Your vacuum is not picking this dirt up. Isn’t your goal to have a clean house and have a vacuum cleaner that picks up all the dirt, not just some of it?” I didn’t say this, but in my mind I thought, no, not really. If I really was trying to get all the dirt off of everything in our house I would never stop cleaning because there is dirt and germs everywhere. We live with them and it really doesn’t bother me that much.
We do a lot of hiking and living out of doors when the weather allows. I am sure that on our hikes we inhale LOTS of dust and that when we stop to eat our lunch our hand are dirty and sweaty. If we drop some of our food on the ground we usually just pick it up and eat it. Yet I’ve never gotten sick after a day hiking. I think our cultural fear of dirt has been taken a little bit too far.
Have you ever noticed that the families who slather on the hand sanitizer, eat only food from the health food store and avoid places (like the library, zoo, and playground) because of the germs are the ones that seem to be always getting sick or getting over something? Hmmm.