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Spiritual Meditations (02 Apr 2020 NewAgeIslam.Com)

As the Killer Virus, Covid-19, Tightens Its Grip on Humankind, It Could Help to Recall How Such Calamities Were Faced in The Past

By Valson Thampu


01st April 2020


As the killer virus tightens its grip on humankind worldwide, the question presses itself upon us: What shall we do? How shall we respond to this peril? Respond, we have to. Even refusing to respond is also a response, the response of denial. On occasions like this, it could help to recall how such calamities were faced in the past. The Plague—or the Black Death—that ravaged the world in the 14th century offers an instructive case study. Giovani Boccaccio’s Decameron serves our purpose best. It was written a century after the Plague ended its death dance in Europe. Boccaccio outlines four different responses that the Plague —‘the late pestiferous mortality’—evoked from the people of Florence in 1348.

When faced with terrors of the magnitude of the corona pandemic, we face a compelling need to ‘interpret’, or to understand, them; for what is not understood cannot be managed. The people of Florence were divided in how they interpreted the ‘wandering disease’. One group saw it as resulting from the ‘operations of heavenly bodies’, a sort of bolt from the blue. The rest read its significance morally. It portended the wrath of God at human iniquity. The Plague was, thus, a scourge meant for their correction. Boccaccio does not bother to adjudicate between these views. He goes on to record what, to him, was more important: the fact that neither civic authorities nor priests were of any help to the afflicted.

Boccaccio notes that grand systems of support, to which we attach our pride and hope, prove brittle and irrelevant in the face of calamities. What caused the mainstays of support to collapse was the hyper-contagiousness of the infection. Not only did talking or coming into contact with the sick give the infection to the healthy, “. . . the mere touching of the clothes or of whatsoever other thing that had been touched or used by the sick appeared of itself to communicate the malady to the toucher”. To illustrate the point he cites an instance. “The rags of a poor man, who had died of the plague, being cast out into the public way, two hogs came up to them and having….took them in their mouths and tossed them about their jaws…. they both fell down dead upon the rags. ...”

How did the people of Florence respond to a calamity as dreadful as this? Boccaccio lists four response strategies: Some sought safety in living moderately, abstaining from excesses of every kind. They shut themselves in homes that remained uninfected. Tried to divert their attention from the grimness of the situation with ‘music and such other diversions as they had’. Significantly, they quarantined themselves not only from the infected but also from ‘any news from without of the death of sick folks’. As we would say, ‘they quarantined themselves from the media!’

In the second type of response, Florentines took the opposite path. They believed that ‘carousing, making merry and going about singing and frolicking’ was the best remedy. They ‘satisfied the appetite in every possible way’ and ‘scoffed at whatsoever was proposed as the remedy’. They sought to drown their fears in drunken debauchery, mostly, at the expense of others, who became suddenly generous as they were ‘to live no longer’. (Awareness of impending mortality delivers us from acquisitiveness. Irrespective of religion, we begin to believe in the doctrine of maya). Like those of the previous type, Florentines of this kind also ‘shunned the sick to the best of their power’.

The third type adopted a middle path between austerity and debauchery. They used ‘things in sufficiency’. They did not quarantine themselves, but went about, ‘flowers and herbs in hand’, inhaling their fragrance ‘to fortify the brain with such odours’. This made sense, given that the air was thick with the stench of the epidemic and the miasma of death. Nearly half the population of Florence—and a third of Europe—perished. Boccaccio does not raise this question, but today we can’t help asking: what is the connection between pollution and pandemic? Florentines who adopted the fourth strategy resorted to ‘fleeing from the pestilence’ as if they could outstrip its reach! Like the rest, they too thought only of themselves; except that they manifested it in a more dramatic fashion. They abandoned their kinsfolk, dear ones, and possessions. Retreated to the countryside as if there they could hide themselves from the wrath of God. What guided them was the assumption, prevalent even today, that cities are marked out for destruction because of their degradation and depravity—a notion rooted in the Bible, in particular, in the tragic fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.

With a touch of wry humour, Boccaccio notes that no strategy helped. The Plague spared none. He emphasises the outbreak of loneliness in the wake of the epidemic. People perished alone, abandoned. Boccaccio connects this large-scale human wretchedness to the culture that prevailed in the city prior to the outbreak. They died abandoned, he writes, “. . . having themselves, while they were when whole, set the example to those who abode in health.” That is to say, Florentines, while hale and hearty, lived only for themselves; so in peril they died by themselves, each individual abandoned to his plight. His words ring ominously relevant, “…No neighbour took thought unto other; no kinsfolk visited one another. Brother forsook brother; uncle, nephew; wife, husband; and, even, parents, their children.”

It is pertinent to note here that Pope Clement VI fled Avignon, which was the seat of the medieval Church, in order to save himself. In contrast, his physician, Gui de Chauliac—like thousands of our heroic men and women in the medical fraternity battling the epidemic today—stayed back and served the city in affliction until he perished. It is in testing times that we know who is genuine and who is fake. Tragedies, not enclosures of priest-craft, nurture the sublimity of the spirit that expresses itself as heroism in duty. The dark nights of our existence can be illumined only by the splendour of the spirit.

Valson Thampu Former principal of St Stephen’s College, New Delhi

Original Headline: How shall we respond to the pandemic? 

Source: The New Indian Express

URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/spiritual-meditations/valson-thampu/as-the-killer-virus,-covid-19,-tightens-its-grip-on-humankind,-it-could-help-to-recall-how-such-calamities-were-faced-in-the-past/d/121461


  • The Mathe-Magic of Chaiwala in COVID
    People ask,Y is India a backward nation,of heathens and menials ?
    Simple ! Tbey are duds ! There is no intellectus,and no IQ,and no creativity/inventiveness/ innovation.dindooohindoo
    Sample the IQ of the Indian 
    Sample 1 - The Dindooohindoo claim that the "doubling time" has increased !
    So in the USA, the 1st 5 death, took place in say,3 days and then the dead doubled to 10,in say 2 days.What does it prove.It is numerics.Beyond a size,the doubling time HAS TO INCREASE and below a certain size,the doubling time will REDUCE.It is beneath common sense.USA has 40000 dead and 700000.At the CURRENT STRIKE RATE, the next slab
    of 40000/700000, will take lesser time (than it took to reach here),as the strike rate is high,and the testing numbers,are also higher than before.That is also elementary.
    Indian data is dubious,as 80% of the infected are asymptomatic ! Which means that there could be 1.2 billion more - who are/have infected others,and will become symptomatic,in future ! THIS IS THE TICKING TIME BOMB ! On top of that, these asymp's are being put to RNA tests.
    US infected,are mostly symptomatic.
    But the US rates has been doubling in a SHORTER DURATION,in the past.However, that is because of an exponential rise in US tests,large number of aged people and a large number of pre-existing diseased humans.
    The Dindoo Hindoo does not classify pre-existing diseased humans,who are ALSO infected by COVID,under COVID.Those pathetic souls would rather die in their loos. USA has done 10 million tests on a population of 350 million.The Hindoos have done 300000 tests for 1.2 billion wimpets.
    What to do with these clowns ?
    Case 2 - Lowest death rate in the world
    The Dindoo says that of 17000 cases only 600 are dead at 3% - but the USA has a rate of 6%.This is also a bogus statistic,as it is skewed by age,and also,the fact,that the dead - who died,due to pre-existing conditions,but with COVUD infections - are not listed as COVID dead,by the Hindoos - although COVID,hastened their death.
    What is he dead ? It is the FIDO concept - "First in Dead out".The oldest patient,dies 1st.The death rate has to be computed,based on the infected cases,upto the date of the date of the last infected person,who died.The Hindoos,on the 20th of April,2020, had 1600 infections.To hit the first 1600,the Hindoos tool almost 20 days - and the 1st man to die,from the lot,on the 20th of April,2020 - might take - upto 30 days.Until then,the Death rate in 
    Hindoosthan, will be skewed - and the Hindoos are celebrating !
    Another bogus statistc
    Case 3 - That statistic of --- per 100,000 of population
    This is pure bull.It is not that Hindoos have a size of 1.3 billion.It is not that the tests are just 300000.
    The key is that 80$ of the victims,are asymptomatic.Which means that 1.2 billion could be,and are being infected, and so are the aged,and those with pre-existing conditions.
    The asymptomatic will become symptomatic,and will infect the vulnerable and others.They DO NOT come to test.They ARE SAMPLED for testing.23 states of India with 600 million people have NIL Cases in the last 10 days - RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT
    The Hindoos still do not get it !
    Case 4 - Infected cases,as a % of tests
    That the Hindoos test 30000,and get 1500 cases - which is at 5% - and that is mighty special. EU norm is 10& ! The Indians are testing asymp's,AND NOT the ones who have become symps, or the vulnerables.who are infected by the asymp's,or the self cured (when they discharge the virus)
    In the US and EU,the portion of aged,symptomatic and vulnerable, are much higher than in Hindoosthan
    Case 5 - Lockdown
    Infected on 20th of April,2020 is 1600 cases - which is more than the aggregate cases,in the 1st 20 days, in Hindoosthan.
    Proof that lockdown is doomed
    Y ? 80& of infected are asymp's - and who are turning symps, and who have,in turn,infected the aged and the vulnerable - and ON TOP OF THAT - the testing is STILL NOT 100,000 A DAY, and the dead and dying with pre-existing conditions - who are infected woth COVID - ARE NOT CLASSIFIED AS COVID (BY THE HINDOO).
    In this process,the above class of persons,would have infected millions !
    Within 7 days,the daily infections should be 2000 a day, and then the daily infected,should double every 20 days,at the maximum.In 12 months,there should be at least 10 million cases
    Proven - Indians are Duds
    QED !
    This is for those who want to shift the supply chain risk,from PRC to HINDOOOSTHAN

    By samir sardana - 4/20/2020 8:33:11 AM

  • Corona ka Ram Baan elaj milgaya:
    "9 Baje raat me Diya Tere haath me."

    By Arshad - 4/2/2020 11:02:47 PM

  • valson thampu forgot two more methods.
    we could distribute measeles and small pox contaminated blankets to all people as the noble protestants did to the red indians.
    or we could drive people into enclosures and let loose hungry hunting dogs as the noble catholics did in south america.
    thampu, just go home. to kerala.

    By hats off! - 4/2/2020 5:40:16 PM

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