Are we Smarter?

The common thought is that in the 20th and 21st centuries we have advanced as the human race. We are smarter and more civilised. However 2020 has had me questioning that. Are we really smarter?

Sure, we have created a vast amount of things in the two centuries and the 21st century is not done yet. We have had technological advances, learned a lot about space we did know before and made advances in medicine killing off diseases that were a death sentence in the past.

However with each advancement comes a new disease and a new hurdle to overcome. We may have made discoveries in science and in space but there is still a lot that we do not know. We haven’t even fully explored our oceans.

When corona first started popping up I thought to myself, we should be able to manage it. When it was still in China and Asia what I heard was we need to wash our hands thoroughly, like a surgeon, and have good public manners (don’t sneeze or cough on people) and if you’re sick stay home.

It was so simple so I thought we, the world, could handle that. Then it spread as you know and now we’re here.

Having watched the world descend into chaos it got me thinking about the black plague, the bubonic plague. It spread around the world in much the same way and killed so many people.

I remember studying the plague in history when I was in secondary school and my teacher would talk about how the nursery ‘ring of roses’ was from that time. Side note: why are nursery rhymes always creepy? They’re almost always based on something dark. He also would talk about how it didn’t help that in those times they did not have good hygiene practises and that when they realised if people were sick it was better to stay home and keep warm etc that less people died.

When I heard all that I was comforted because I thought, “We’re much cleaner than the people in the middle ages”. We know to stay away from people if we have something contagious and luckily no one will burn the house we occupy if we do get sick.

But now I realise I was wrong. We are not better off than the middle ages. We are cleaner but something as simple as washing our hands some people don’t want to do. Something as simple as wearing a mask people don’t want to do. When in the middle ages the doctors used to wear a whole plague mask that looked like a crow’s beak crossed with a world war two gas mask. Surely our masks are better than that. Surely ours are less burdensome. People are acting like the government is asking them to set themselves on fire to save others.

The scary thing is the plague lasted for like four years I think. I was watching a programme but it’s been a long time since I’ve studied this so fact check me. Anyway it lasted for a while, it wasn’t something that was easy to fix and this plague we’re having is on that level.

I know we want everything to go back to normal but to do that we’re going to have to sacrifice a lot for the sake of others. That means staying indoors, not travelling as much and having stellar hygiene practises. Oh and of course wearing a mask.

I think one of the biggest problems in the modern world is how individualistic we are, at least in the West. In East Asia and Africa society is community based and so you can ask people to do things for the sake of others and they will understand and do it. Whereas in the West society is individualistic and people don’t want to do anything unless it benefits them.

I remember back when we thought young adults couldn’t die from corona and so young adults travelled with abandon and I thought, “Sure, we can recover if we get sick but we could still carry the disease. What about grandparents? What about babies? What about those with asthma? Don’t you care about them?” It was horrifying to see that a lot of people really didn’t care.

So in a way I feel like we’re worse off than the middle ages. Sure, they didn’t bath much and the black plague wiped them out but at least they did everything they could to survive it. They did not willing go against medical advice because of selfishness. Or rather they feared it so much they did everything they could to fight it and made a nursery rhyme (still not over that).

It seems people only care about something when it directly affects them and that is sad.

However, something positive to focus on is that we exist today meaning that the world was not wiped out by the bubonic plague. They survived, they defeated it and it didn’t stay forever. If we work together we too can defeat corona virus and make the world a better place.

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