What lies ahead?
Are we alone? Has the universe has spoken? Is it too late?
Maybe. Maybe not.
In isolation lies the answer.
Humanity is the sense of compassion, sympathy or generosity. Are we running too fast? Has humanity run out?
In the midst of a pandemic, people are scared, some are not. The air has somehow changed. The sky has changed its colours. Roads are empty. Everything has come to a standstill. In a rustling storm did you take a moment to introspect?
Is this a warning? Or a grace to pull all of us for change.
Is this planet asking us to change, so that our children have a future with clean air & a beautiful planet?
Let us look back and try to understand their anguishes and learn better.
- Plague of Justinian
Popularly known as Bubonic Plague, otherwise known for its 14th-century cousin, “The Black Death”.
Originating in China & northeast India, the plague (Yersinia pestis) was carried to the Great lakes region of Africa via overland and sea trade routes. The plague arrived in Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire in 541 CE.
The first recorded outbreak of the plague was the WAR. The added chill in the air affected crop harvests, leading in shortages of food which led to people mobility throughout the region. They brought with themselves flea-ridden rats.
Cold, tired, hungry people on the go, fused with a disease, stuck in the midst of warfare, as well as an increasing population of highly infectious rats, structured an epidemic.
The plague took 50 million lives.
2. The Black Death: Invention of Quarantine
The plague never really went away, when it reappeared in 800 years, it killed a reckless abandon.
The Black Death, which hit Europe in 1347, proclaimed an astonishing 200 million lives in just 4 years.
Then, people did not know how to stop the disease, had no scientific understanding of contagion, but knew it had something with proximity.
In Ragusa, forward-thinking officials in the Venetian-controlled port city decided to keep newly arrived soldiers in isolation until they could prove they weren’t sick.
At first, sailors were held on their ships for 30 days, which became known in Venetian Law as a Trentino.
As time went by, the Venetians increased the forced isolation to 40 days or a Quarantino- the origin of the word quarantine and the start of its practice in the Western World.
3. The Great Plague of London: Sealing Up the Sick
London never caught a break after the ‘Black Death’ of 1348. The plague resurfaced roughly 20 years from 1348 to 1665–40 outbreaks in 300 years. With every new plague epidemic, 20 % of children, women and men living in the British Capital were killed.
By 1500s, England finally started imposing the first laws to separate and isolate the sick. Isolated plague-stricken people homes were marked with a bale of hay hung strung to a pole outside.
If you had infected family members, you had to carry a white pole when you went out in public.
Cats and dogs were believed to carry the disease, so there was an extensive massacre of hundreds of thousands of animals.
The Great Plague of 1665 was the hindmost & wretchedest of the centuries-long outbreaks, killing 100,000 Londoners in a mere span of 7 months.
Red crosses were painted on their doors engraved with a plea for forgiveness: ‘Lord have mercy upon us.’
As cruel as it was to shut the sick into their homes, it was the only way to put an end to the Great Plague.
4. Smallpox- A new disease scars the New World
Smallpox was endemic to Europe, Asia and Arabia for centuries, an assiduous menace that killed 3 out of 10 people it infected and left the rest with blemished scars.
The indigenous peoples of modern-day Mexico and the United States had zero immunization from smallpox and the virus pierce the population by the tens of millions.
‘There hasn’t been a kill off in human history to match happened in the Americas-90 to 95 % of the indigenous population wiped out over a century.’
‘Mexico goes from 11 million people pre-conquest to one million.’
Revolutions later, smallpox became the first virus epidemic to be ended by a vaccine.
In the late 18th century, a British origin doctor named ‘EDWARD JENNER’ ascertained the cure and famously inoculated his gardener’s 9-year-old son with the cure and then exposed him to the smallpox virus with no ill effect.
It took nearly two more centuries but in 1980 the World Health Organization announced that smallpox had been completely eradicated from the face of the Earth.
5. Cholera: Flambées de choléra
In the early to mid 19th century, Cholera tore through England, killing tens of thousands. The prevailing scientific theory of the day was that the disease was spread by foul air known as Miasma.
Somehow, a British doctor suspected something different and went to the roots of it. It was a disease which killed its victims within days of first symptoms, lurked in London’s drinking water.
The doctor was John Snow, no not the game of thrones character, but resembled the same through their actions.
He investigated hospital records and morgue reports and pinpointed the explicit locations of deadly outbreaks.
He created a geographical chart of cholera deaths over a 10-day period and found a clump of 500 fatal infections surrounding the Broad Street Pump, a popular city well for drinking water.
Snow had to convince the local authorities to remove the pump handle on the Broad Street drinking well, rendering it unusable and just like someone used a spell, all the infection poofed away.
It didn’t cure Cholera overnight, but it did lead to a unified global front to better the urban sanitation scenario and protect the drinking water from contamination.
While cholera has been utterly eradicated from developed countries, it's still today a tenacious killer in third-world countries, which still lack adequate sewage treatment and access to clean drinking water.
6. Corona-virus Outbreak (COVID-19)
This outbreak has blisteringly hit cities, states and countries. It has put the world to a global lockdown.
People are rushing in to get a check-up, stocking up their homes to prepare for the worst. Nurses and doctors are working extensively round the clock. Global leaders are standing together in this cataclysmic pandemic.
There isn’t a clear path ahead, no cure, no vaccination.
There is somehow some safeguards and precautions we can follow to be safe.
Stay indoor, maintain social distancing, help the medical workers lessen their load and foremost take a step back.
Take a minute to think & look within and introspect. Think about your children, their children & then their children.
The planet is imparting us a hint to get better. To let her breathe. Let her be.
We, humans, are ample & innovative enough to face any challenges that befall us. Let’s be thankful for this time. For this belief that we can be better.
Create. Create something new, something innovative, never let it rest. Create a better tomorrow.