Most of us weren’t around during the influenza epidemic of 1918 when the nursery rhyme in the header of this post was well known, though I hestitate to call it popular. We also weren’t here when the stock market crashed in 1929 or when the dustbowl ravaged the southern plains of the 1930s. The people of my generation often said our parents and others of their generation acted a certain way or had an indentifiable world view because they suffered through one of these upheavals.
In the future, people will look back on the western wildfires and, perhaps, speak of them in the way we refer to the dustbowl now. And perhaps analysts of the future will find parallels between our current pandamic and the dark times of 1918. People are already writing books and essays about their experiences that may form the foundation for how people in 75-100 years believe we’ve handled these crises.
In the middle of this dandemic, what I see is confusion, most often described as science vs. personal opinion. The arguments fill the days’ news. In some ways, the arguments boil down to an us-v-them clash, on hand that nobody should be able to force us to get vaccinated or take other precautions, and on the other hand, those who won’t get vaccinated are threatening the lives of everyone else.
As often happens, the Democrats are arguing with the Republicans about every thing from vaccines to masks to lockdowns to re-opening businesses and schools and travel. Why, I wonder, must politics even rear its ugly head in these discussions? The parties should be working together rather that fomenting a fragmentation of views and policies.
In the future, I suspect people will marvel at how quickly vaccines were developed and how people who grew up in a “vaccinated society” came to shun them. When we look back at the pandemic of 1918, we cannot really fault people for what science didn’t yet know. I think, though, that we will be faulted for what we do know and what we said it was our right to ignore.
So far, it looks like those whom the future will award the highest marks are the swamped first responders and the hospital workers. Next, perhaps, those who created vaccines in record time. Last will be the politicians and those who believe their personal “rights” supercede the needs of the nation and their neighborhood.
All of this frustrates me. How about you?