(Light is Ahead)
I was in a local grocery store and heard one of the workers comment that the snow we had in the Upper Valley (as this area of New Hampshire and Vermont is called) in May is unprecedented. I'm pretty sure it's not. I'm pretty sure that there has been snow in May in Vermont at some point. A little research shows that, while unlikely, it has happened.
That made me start thinking about the use of the word unprecedented. It seems to be getting a lot of use lately, especially in relation to COVID-19, that the spread of COVID-19 is unprecedented in it's scope and effect. Well, maybe what's unprecedented is that something such as this hasn't happened recently. Maybe in a hundred years. It is, however, not unprecedented in the history of humans.
I am not saying that COVID-19 is not serious. It certainly is, but I don't think that the scope and impact is unprecedented. I recently read that the US deaths from the disease is a higher number than those of the US military during the Vietnam War. Now that's a really interesting statistic to use.It's comparing apples and oranges. So why not compare it to US causalities in other wars: World War II (419,400 deaths), World War 1 (117,466 deaths) or the granddaddy of all US wars, the Civil War (665,000 deaths including both sides of the war)? Maybe because using the Vietnam War statistic is scarier? Maybe because that way people might take this more seriously?
The 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic was a little over a hundred years ago. About 675,000 Americans died from that flu. Well, and then there was the Black Death which struck at least 3 times from Eurasia to England. The numbers are mind boggling. One estimate is that 50-60% of the European population died from the plague. The bubonic plague killed 10,000,000 people in India at the turn of the 20th century.
Again, I am not trying to down play the seriousness of the current situation. I am trying to say that calling this unprecedented doesn't help. It just makes it scarier that it is all by itself. The situation is scary for many people. I think it's important to remember that as broken as our health care system is, it is a hell of a lot better than what existed in the middle ages or even in 1918. I think that science understands disease much better than it did even 50 years ago. We just all need to do our part. It also helps to have a government that steps up and does it's part as well. Thank goodness a vast majority of US governors have stepped up to the plate.
I think that our ability to keep the deaths from COVID-19 from being astronomical is unprecedented. But, we can still do better. We can help people eat well, boost their immune systems, fix our broken health care system, work to end poverty, and treat our home, the Earth, better than we do.
We can and will get through this. We just need to do this:
****The first image is by Nathan Dumlao and was found on unsplash.com. The second is from my book, Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be. Please click here if you would like to know more about me, my services and the book.