In Praise of Dirt
All around me, people are rubbing their hands with a few drops of liquid that are said to kill germs. I hear government officials lecturing us on washing our hands. I read blog posts on how to cope with the menace of doorknobs. And Phized at schools is more and more sterile, designed to prevent the kids from getting dirty.
At the same time, the near panic over swine flu, and allergy pandemics. For a while there I thought there would be legislation to ban peanuts from American life, but that seems to have passed. Delta Airlines hands out peanuts without any obvious protest.
Meanwhile, I remember my mother dragging me around to the houses of kids with chicken pox and mumps, so that I could get infected. Why? So that I could build up my antibodies. Exposure to germs helps the immune system. From which it follows that all this cleanliness and sterilization has a downside: it makes us more vulnerable to infection.
And from THAT it follows that DIRT IS GOOD FOR US. N'est-ce pas?
Me, I don't use those little bottles. Every now and then I do wash my hands--typically before meals and on other occasions I won't describe here because this is a family blog--but I'm not going to get excited when I get dirty. I do get a flu shot most years, but that's more of the "infect yourself to get stronger" theme.
Has anybody checked to see if the compulsive clean hands people get sick more than us dirty folks?