A sandworm is a fictional creature that appears in the Dune novels written by Frank Herbert.
Sandworms are colossal worm-like creatures that live on the planet Arrakis, which is a hot and arid planet whose environment resembles the Sahara desert. The sandworms’ larvae produce a drug called “melange” (known colloquially as “the spice”), which is highly prized across the universe for its medicinal and mystical properties. Melange is created when excretions of the sandworms’ larvae react with water and sunlight. Melange deposits are found in the sand seas of Arrakis, where the sandworms live and hunt, and harvesting the melange from the sand is a dangerous activity because sandworms are aggressive and territorial. Harvesting vehicles must be airlifted in and out of the sand sea in order to evade sandworm attacks. The struggle over the production and supply of melange is a central theme of the Dune setting.
When he was asked about why the sandworms and melange, Herbert replied: The elements of any mythology must grow from something profoundly moving, something which threatens to overwhelm any consciousness which tries to confront the primal mystery. Yet, after the primal confrontation, the roots of this threat must appear as familiar and necessary as your own flesh. For this, I give you the sandworms of Dune … the extension of human lifespan cannot be an unmitigated blessing. Every such acquisition requires a new consciousness. And a new consciousness assumes that you will confront dangerous unknowns—you will go into the deeps.
In reading through this concept, I thought about how a lot of us are all filing in to get shot 1 and shot 2 of a Covid vaccine, all for the extension of the human lifespan, in this case against a virus that threatens to destroy vast groups of humanity. This lead me to contemplate how we are so at the mercy of modern society as to make us shelter in home for a year, to survive. And what the consequences are as we contemplate taking a vaccine vs. hoping we will stay alive without it.
The math of the vaccine approach requires a large population to have had access to the vaccinations and, as we are now rapidly approaching that chasm between too many people wanting it, but not enough places to get it, to the new concern, where a large population has taken it, but another large population is determined not to take it, we hit our next crisis. This requires mass education and while we have mass media, there is no telling that the audience you must reach to achieve this, will actually listen. So they are dispatching small teams to visit every town and rural community and offer as much free counseling and discussion as possible, to ensure that people may make an informed decision. It is both a moral and logistical problem.
So as Frank Herbert shared, this new consciousness assumes you will confront dangerous unknowns-you will go into the deeps. In this case, the unknowns are not sandworms, but rather a humanity that is continuing to live in two parallel worlds, depending upon whom they are listening to for information….thereby leaving the vaccine as an unquestionably mitigated blessing.
Or perhaps I just loved the graphic, because I have blue eyes. (Look up spice melange.)