Pandemic divided us when we should have united

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, July 21, 2021

To the Editor:

King Oedipus is the subject of what is possibly the most renowned tragedy in literary history. This most beloved king of Athens reigns in peace and prosperity until a mysterious plague breaks out in his city. When the pestilence continues to grow more severe, threatening the very survival of their culture, the people go to the king demanding an explanation, asking of him, “What heinous crime have you committed against the gods to call down their wrath upon us?”

In ancient times when acts of nature caused great calamity and suffering among the people, the people would instinctually begin to question their leadership, asking what transgression against the balance of nature is responsible for the unexplainable disaster.

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The origin of COVID-19 is a controversial topic, with some saying it is an impenetrable mystery, others saying it is perfectly clear, though they may have widely divergent explanations as to exactly where it came from and why. One thing is for certain, it has led us all to question the judgment and moral worth of our leadership.

Scientists, statesmen, doctors, corporate executives like Bill Gates, even the leading epidemiologist in the nation, Dr. (Anthony) Fauci, have all seen a serious blow to their reputations and the authority of their opinions due to this malady of dubious origin.

The official explanation is that it came from the unsanitary conditions of wet markets in China, but many find other explanations more plausible. All throughout human history epidemic diseases have sprung from the same conditions. Overcrowding of humans and animals together in unsanitary conditions always gives rise to monster bacteria and viruses that can’t be checked. The Black Plague, for example, came from fleas that traveled from the backs of rats on ships to human skin, allowing a pathogen to jump from one species to another. This was made possible because the urban poor were crowded together like sardines in filth beleaguered by fleas and rats. In the Americas, millions died from diseases like smallpox which were relatively harmless to Europeans. Although the natives had large cities (like Teotihuacan and Chitzen Itza) they had virtually no domestic animals, and so lacked the immunities that Europeans had borne for centuries.

Scientists know exactly what conditions breed epidemics. They had predicted an outbreak like COVID for decades.

The inconvenient truth is that they also predicted similar outbreaks to originate in places similar to Chinese wet markets, like American industrialized pig and chicken farms (which are in warehouses and are really more like factories) and slaughterhouses. Places were people and animals are crowded together in filth.

So, what’s wrong with us?

The COVID question has American deeply divided when we should be standing in unity, coming to our leaders and demanding an explanation. How have we upset the balance of nature, how have we offended the gods? And how can we avoid doing it again, for the sake of future generations as well as our own?

Gene Cain