Some of the jokes making the rounds on social media are about how people seem to have forgotten the corona/COVID-19 virus in the wake of recent protests against police violence.
The jokes are legitimate in a way. With everybody outraged over the killing of George Floyd by a policeman with hate filled eyes (look at his mugshot), it’s like the virus realized its time was up and exited stage left.
Only time will tell if the virus is receding, but if history has taught us anything, it’s that stuff, especially bad stuff, doesn’t go away without a fight.
I recently read a fascinating story about a 95-year-old gentleman recalling his years trying to find out what the Spanish Flu of 1918 was, why it suddenly disappeared and why it was so vicious.
In scientific terms, there isn’t really a lot known about the Spanish Flu. In 1918, the world was preoccupied with The Great Way (later to be called World War I), and there really wasn’t a scientific community as we now know it.
Oh, there were scientists, but people were terrified by the Spanish Flu. The reports from the times say people were dying in the streets, their lungs clogged with blood, unable to breathe. People were either buried in a hurry, their bodies burned or any other way they could think of to quickly dispose of an infected body.
No real study was done, on either dead victims or the few survivors, to find out what the virus was, so it disappeared slowly and then suddenly without anyone knowing what it was.
Many years later, but still many years ago, a man named Johan Hultin decided to dig up some dead bodies and see if he could find what the Flu had been and if there was a way to use that knowledge to fight off future flu-related pandemics.
But the only place bodies had been buried where they wouldn’t have rotted away, taking the Flu with them, was way up in Northern Alaska. He and his team went there in 1951, dug up six dozen bodies (!) and brought them back to Iowa, but couldn’t figure the Flu out.
Many years after that, in 1997, when he was still a very active and healthy 72, he went again and did the same thing. Still, nothing was figured out.
The story, which was in Sports Illustrated of all places, said the now 95 year old Hultin isn’t what he used to be, but he still warms up to the topic of lethal flus and, while the corona/COVID virus has been compared to the Spanish Flu, he doesn’t think this will be a version of what happened more than 100 years ago.
But he does think there is something out there that could wipe out the entire human race. The only question is if it will ever be released or just remain somewhere quietly until the sun explodes billions of years from now and takes all life we know with it.
If it does get released, probably by either a curious human or a human who does something he/she really shouldn’t do, it wouldn’t wipe out everybody. But if it wipes out 95-98% of us, what will rise in our place? What will humans turn into?
But let’s not worry about that. We have to deal with violence among ourselves, the hassle of having our daily lives interrupted, not being able to go to restaurants, sporting events, concerts or even just hanging out together.
The human race doesn’t really handle the big questions well. They either retreat into what they have believed for centuries or just flat out ignore anything that isn’t right in front of them or going to happen in a day or two.
And maybe we shouldn’t. We’re really only here for a very short time and the huge majority of us will leave no mark at all. We really should just concentrate on the lives we have and try to make them the best they can be. After all, we’re the ones living them.
So, just do the best you can, try to be a decent person and remember that a person who spent a big portion of his life studying such things thinks this pandemic won’t amount to much.
Let’s hope his 95 years of experience gives him a knowledge that makes him right.