From Shit to Manure
Turning Bad News into Good News
Shih Tzu pronounced Shit-sue
No, this article is not about Shih Tzus. I just wanted to get your attention and make you laugh! For the past months I have been sending out serious and mostly negative news and thoughts about the Covid-19 virus and “my readers” have stopped reading anything I send that is not at least slightly positive. So, given that we are all clearly in “bad news overload”, I figured it’s time to be a bit like Pollyanna and start to see that
“Every dark cloud has a silver lining.”
However, using the title as our guiding metaphor, we must first purposively find ‘the shit’ out there because only it can provide us, if we are wise and patient, with ‘the manure’ that will allow us to grow and prosper. Here is a sample from today’s news:
The US unemployment rate has risen to 14.7%, with 20.5 million jobs lost in April
The US faces a major meat shortage due to virus infections at processing plants. It means millions of pigs could be put down without ever making it to table.
The Next Covid Crisis Could Be a Wave of Suicides: A new study predicts 75,000 “deaths of despair”
Enough about shit. Seeing what’s wrong out there is far too easy. Our challenge is, always, to be brave enough to see the bad news and not pretend that “it’s not so bad’ [it is], but then to see it as an opportunity to change. You can think of ‘bad news’ as shit, it’s a nutrient that if put in the right place and worked on a bit becomes ‘good news’ – because it forced us to change – and thus shit become manure – the essential life giving ingredient for the soil that is the foundation for the food we eat. Thus, shit is actually what we need to live. No shit, no change. No change and we stagnate and eventually die. So, hurrah for manure!
Here’s some good news from the manure pile.
Ontario faring better than projected in COVID-19 fight
Seniors’ Care was in Crisis before Covid-19, all the crisis has done is shine the spotlight on a problem we have long ignored
Trust is Essential for a Strong Economic Recovery: Lessons from South Korea and Singapore
You get the idea. We should see Covid as a push to improve how our society functions, to see it not as an enemy to be ‘defeated’ but as a nudge to help us change what we know we should have changed but never got around to [#1 obvious issue for us is the fact that 80% of CDN deaths are in long term care homes].
Thus, this is crisis is not primarily medical, or economic or about mental health – it is a social-cultural crisis. It is showing us our weaknesses.
When people are living on minimum wage with no benefits and so must go to work even if they are sick, as happens with those working in our meat packing plants, they become “hot spots”. Eventually, they shut down, after hundreds are infected and several workers die. The result? There is a shortage of meat for the rest of us who live protected lives and can work from home in the lap of luxury.
The virus is, literally, behaving at a societal level the way it works with individuals: those who have a strong immune system and no major health issues [diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, etc.] are barely affected by the virus. It is the same with societies. The problem is that most societies have an abused underclass and many people were already sick before the virus struck! Time for change! Perhaps this message is too ‘Pollyannaish’ [ie naive] or abstract for the cynics out there, but, what the heck, it’s a good time to look for the silver lining in the dark clouds all around us. More than that I would propose, given that fear, anxiety, depression and despair create a self-fulfilling cycle where we think it’s getting worse, and so it gets worse, and so on – it is imperative to be positive! All we need to do is turn all this shit into manure and life can actually get better after this crisis!
Now, given that I have learned that abstract ideas are only of use if they are grounded in reality, here is a real life example of this idea of turning shit into manure: using human shit as manure. The radical idea of Gene Logsdon, author of “Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind” is to not see human shit as an evil waste, but rather as a valuable resource. He tells us:
“It has taken us about one hundred years to reduce soil organic matter to dangerously low levels- from about 5 percent on average, to below 2 percent- and experts say it might take at least that long to build them back up again using organic methods on a large scale.”
Jesus may have turned water into wine, but we turn shit into food.
“The act of composting humanure is so radical and revolutionary that people who have spent their lives trying to dispose of the substance can’t quite come to grips with the idea that it can be recycled.” “Americans think of human excrement as “waste” teeming with pathogens. In fact, it is neither. Humanure is an organic resource teeming with beneficial microorganisms. That’s a fact.”
“The word “humanure” means human excrement beneficially recycled by feeding it to microbes. There is no waste involved. Because this idea is so radical in today’s world, especially in water toilet cultures, there was no word for such an organic resource. I had to create one. Humanure.”
You can download his entire book for free and then build your own humanure toilet at https://humanurehandbook.com/contents.html Good luck, and remember, bad news is shit that had not yet been composted into the manure we call good news!
written by Gordon Kubanek