Until we know what’s what…

On Current Affairs

Madhuri reflects on the health measures taken in the past – and at present.

football stadium in 1918
Football stadium in 1918

Gentlemen were very annoyed about having to give up the freedom to spit in corners and on walls… as well as in spittoons – when it was discovered that tuberculosis was spread through all that expectoration.

But when the ban took effect, the incidence of tuberculosis dropped incredibly – very quickly.

Tuberculosis. Polio. Cholera. Typhoid. Syphilis. Spanish flu. Smallpox. Plague. Yellow Fever. Puerperal fever.

So many lives – brilliant, or sad, or hard, or mundane-but-sacred, or gifted – have been cut off because of these interfacings between the invisible microbial world and our own; the complex interworkings of our whole breathing system – which isn’t really and ‘us’ and ‘them’ but a vast mysterious interconnection.

Most of us have no personal experience of any of these diseases.

Why? Because curious, passionate, intent people have worked very very hard, through miasmas of ignorance, relentless opposition, decades of struggle – and have even died – so that we could have that luxury. Sanitation – microbiology – epidemiology – have all had their pioneers and their heroes and heroines, often reviled and ridiculed in their own lifetimes.

And for a few generations, in only part of the world, we’ve not had to die of any of these things.

How lucky we are!

That luck stands on the shoulders of they who went before; who put their whole heart into the study… the results of which we now enjoy.

So when we sneer at ‘the official narrative’ and proclaim we won’t ‘live in fear’ – we betray our own ignorance; our hubris; and a casual dearth of heart. A few minutes googling any/all of the above diseases would suffice as a rudimentary education in what we have escaped.

Sure, it’s more fun to spit freely, cough on whomsoever we wish to; hug each other, have unprotected sex, and all the rest of it.

But let’s take a moment to look at our lucky world – toilets, sewers, flea-lessness, microscopes, etc etc – and bow to those who made things so much easier, and life so much longer, for so many.

They were all humans – and those who sickened and died were – and those who are dying now; old or young – and you, and I.

All of us clinging to the earth, reaching for the sky. Feeling. Sensitive.

Let’s respect how much we don’t know; and behave ourselves for a while, until we know a little better what’s what.

And salute those on the front lines who are trying to figure it out.


Madhuri is a healer, artist, poet and author of several books, Mistakes on the Path being her latest memoir. madhurijewel.com

Comments are closed.