“Old friends” is the term coined by Dr. Graham Rook to refer to the many, mostly microbial, life forms who live in and on our bodies. These creatures co-evolved in symbiotic relationships with humans and help perform vital functions such as efficient and painless digestion. In fact, we need these friends in our environment too. The human child’s exposure to microbes living in healthy soil and those living on and around animals actually teaches our immune system to regulate itself.
Unfortunately we in the affluent countries have destroyed a lot of these helpers with generations of abuse of antibiotics, as well as widespread use of microbicidal cleansers and pesticides. The recent rise in allergies, digestive troubles and auto-immune disorders plaguing so-called developed nations is attributed to the loss of our symbiotic partners. These health problems are not showing up in countries where antibiotics have not been commonly available, and people cannot afford so much “better living through chemistry.”
“Unloved Others: Death of the Disregarded in the Time of Extinction” is the title of an issue (50, 2011) edited by Deborah Bird Rose and Thom van Dooren.
The drawings refer to living forms in our biological and social ecosystems that are often ignored, feared, scorned or despised, the factors endangering them, and some of the consequences.