At the end of February 2020 Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State issued Proclamation 20-05, which reported as of then there were over 85,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide, and 66 in the United States. As of today there are more than ten times that number worldwide and over 80,000 in the United States.
Seattle is on it’s 7th day of lockdown, a statewide decree for anyone not essential to the functioning of society was ordered by the Governor to remain at home under Proclamation 20-25 which sounds suspiciously familiar to Joseph Heller’s book, Catch 22.
And yet we cannot make light of the fact that as of Monday the death toll in the United States from the impact of the COVID-19 virus exceeded that of those who died in the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.
Death and Pestilence are only two of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the other two being famine and destruction. Judging by the line to get into Whole Foods, or the empty shelves at other supermarket it appears people have not forgotten these harbingers of chaos which have haunted humanity.
For the latest generation these horsemen are not part of living memory, nor for the baby boomers that I am part of really. Only my father, born in 1932 has known the want and fears we somehow believed we had abolished from the earth by the defeat of fascist Germany and Italy, expansionist Japan, and in general we wore down the false promise of communism.
History may have taken a vacation, but now it is back. And the butchers bill grows every day.
2 thoughts on “Pestilence and Death, Famine and Destruction”
As one who studied history in college and has always had a keen interest in history, I’m fascinated by the fact that I’m living through a couple of “moments” in time that will surely keep historians busy for decades. One is, of course, the coronavirus and worldwide pandemic. The other is the Trump era and its impacts on American democracy and culture. I look forward to reading various takes on these times, written by historians as distance provides sharper insights and perspectives. I’ll be able to say, “I lived through that” which will give me the ability and authority to weigh in with my own opinions, for whatever they’re worth.
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And we will say we were lucky to have lived through it.