Friday, April 16, 2021


From my wife's blog:

I try to post every week, but on Monday, I received my second Covid shot. Whew. I felt like I fell off a turnip truck, only to have it back over me. I was down and out for one and a half days. So, alas, my blog had to be put on hold.

I must say that if a measured, second dose (presumably I now had antibodies ready this time) made me feel this way, I cannot even imagine how an unmeasured, first time encounter with Covid would be like. I don't want to sound melodramatic, but I do understand why people die from this--it is utterly overwhelming--and I had a very mild encounter with it. But I am thankful for the vaccine.

While I was in bed, I read about small pox, the flu epidemic of 1918-19, and polio. Morbid? No, perspective: I realized that our fight against such overwhelming enemies has always been fraught with fear, suspicion, accusation and division. Sad how we humans don't really change when it comes to facing our mortality. Death is scary, yes, but not understanding how and why it comes is even scarier. Such uncertainty makes us turn on each other, God and those in medical and governmental authority. Why? Because suddenly the universe feels random.

Civilization is one vast push back against the vicissitudes of existence. Following the grazing herds is all fine and dandy, as long as they migrate in a discernible pattern and you can bring down enough to feed your people. But if you can't, starvation comes a-knocking. So, grow your own: control the food supply. But feast or famine are only a harvest away: Either you bring in abundance to your barns or you weep at the pathetic crop that now spells disaster.

Harness a water supply. Build along rivers, dig cisterns, pray for rain. Without water, life screeches to a halt and all your efforts at living become focused on surviving, if you don't die of thirst on the way.

Then, there are your enemies. You build a wall around your city, to protect your homes, gardens, markets, temples and peace of mind. Now you don't have to wait for the fury of your enemies to come and undo all your security. You need only to shut the gates. You wait. You fight back from a high vantage point and wait for your enemies to bugger off out of frustration. They go looking for easier pastures and you settle down once again, with hearth and home safe and secure. Dire outcomes from random attacks seems somewhat moderated.

Life has lost its hunter-gatherer unpredictability. Springtime, harvest, gathering in and waiting again for spring seem to secure the future. You were here this year, your family was fed, your city withstood attack and your barns are filled. You are secure in this ordered pattern--randomness, like the wild dogs that howl at your city gates, is kept at bay.

But invisible enemies stalk the land. No amount of abundant harvest, potable water, vanquished foes and secure gates seem to keep these enemies out. A cough, a sniffle, a rash, a fever, a loose stool, or utter fatigue means that randomness has just made its appearance. The afflicted will either recover or die. The invisible enemy will slip away.

1 comment:

  1. The American Plague; The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic that shaped America by Molly Caldwell Crosby is another excellent book. Yellow Fever was a plague with many eruptions, something like the Black Plague in Europe. The fact that the mosquito that spread Yellow Fever could live only so far north had dramatic influence on the sectionalism that plagued (sorry) American politics from the first colonists to 1900 when a vaccine was created.