The microorganisms that we host in our bodies do much of the work that we take credit for ourselves. They carry out and direct many of the essential processes that enable us to think, play, and work in daily life. Even the cells that we call our own are in fact microorganisms that have organized themselves to work together in a living system that we call “a human body.” You could call it a worker’s cooperative. Microorganisms in the soil also do important work that we are mostly unaware of, because - like the working class - their work is quiet and hidden from view. Yet these workers provide most of the essential goods and services we rely on for daily life.
Society teaches us to credit the “owners” and “managers” of companies with the products of a company’s labor - not the working-class people who sit in the factory and do the real work. Our relationship with microorganisms echoes this pattern, (and often for reasons of profit as well.)
When we don’t understand or acknowledge the intelligence, power and work of microorganisms, and try to take too much control over life’s processes, we make management decisions that tend to lead to poor functioning of the whole, often creating conditions in which those organisms cannot do their work or even survive.
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