My friend Aru Arumugam was the first one to share this with me last afternoon and, after that, the floodgates opened. Several others shared the same link. It is a blog post on the website of the American Institute of Economic Research about how American parents, the American society and newspapers handled the 1968-69 Hong Kong flu (they all originate from a particular part of the world, don’t they?).
Some extracts from that blog post:
Nothing was closed by force. Schools mostly stayed open. Businesses did too. You could go to the movies. You could go to bars and restaurants. John Fund has a friend who reports having attended a Grateful Dead concert. In fact, people have no memory or awareness that the famous Woodstock concert of August 1969 – planned in January during the worse period of death – actually occurred during a deadly American flu pandemic that only peaked globally six months later. There was no thought given to the virus which, like ours today, was dangerous mainly for a non-concert-going demographic….
…. Stock markets didn’t crash because of the flu. Congress passed no legislation. The Federal Reserve did nothing. Not a single governor acted to enforce social distancing, curve flattening (even though hundreds of thousands of people were hospitalized), or banning of crowds. No mothers were arrested for taking their kids to other homes. No surfers were arrested. No daycares were shut even though there were more infant deaths with this virus than the one we are experiencing now. There were no suicides, no unemployment, no drug overdoses attributable to flu.
Media covered the pandemic but it never became a big issue.
As the author goes on to say later, we will be trying to figure this one out for decades. Many guesses are possible. I had shared my guess here. It is a combination of a sense of entitlement and paranoia. There is hubris too. Playing God: “I shall not permit a virus to kill me” just as central bankers vowed: “no business cycle recession on my watch.”
Jonathan Sumption wrote on April 5 (feels like centuries ago) that we were so afraid of death that no one bothered to ask if the cure was worse than the disease. Well, President Trump asked and he was shouted down. Paranoia added agendas as days progressed.
In a more recent piece, he calls it the greatest interference with personal liberty in our history. Some powerful sentences in his piece linked above (dt.: 2nd May 2020) are worth repeating:
They now find themselves trapped by their own decisions…
…Ending the lockdown is a political decision, not a scientific one….
… We went to war in 1939 because lives were worth losing for liberty. We allow cars on the roads because lives are worth losing for convenience. We travel by air although pollution kills. We tut-tut about it, but we willingly do it. ….There is more to life than the avoidance of death.
He is right that ending the lockdown is a political decision for evidence keeps accumulating that the new Covid-19 virus is as lethal (or slightly worse than) as a standard seasonal flu corona virus.
There is a reason why death occurs – not just for humans – but for all animate and inanimate things. Neil Howe and William Strauss explain it brilliantly:
Try to unlearn the obsessive fear of death (and the anxious quest for death avoidance) that pervades linear thinking in nearly every modern society. The ancients knew that, without periodic decay and death, nature cannot complete its full round of biological and social change. Without plant death, weeds would strangle the forest. Without human death, memories would never die, and unbroken habits and customs would strangle civilization. Social institutions require no less. Just as floods replenish soils and fires rejuvenate forests, a Fourth Turning clears out society’s exhausted elements and creates an opportunity for fresh growth.
Finally, unlearn the linear view that positive change always comes willingly, incrementally, and by human design.
A Fourth Turning lends people of all ages what is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to heal (or destroy) the very heart of the republic.
Source: William Strauss and Neil Howe: ‘The Fourth Turning: What the cycles of history tells us about America’s next rendezvous with destiny’ (1997).
The humanity awaits and is in need of its ‘Fourth Turning’