Christina Engela's picture

Religion, Deadly Contagion And Other Afflictions

Imagine a pandemic which claims a death toll so high it staggers the mind. Millions upon millions dead, suffering and dying from a plague which knows no cure. Every single human being touched personally by the hand of death, suffering and tragedy. Everyone who survives, perhaps the last remaining member of a large and happy family, standing alone and wondering where to go from here? Far fetched?

Not really. It already happened once in recorded history. In Medieval times, bubonic plague took nearly half the population of Europe, some scholars postulate up to two thirds. And what could medicine do about it at the time? Nothing. They couldn't even ease the suffering of the victims. The contemporary art reflects the ever present um, presence - of death in the conscious and sub-conscious, particularly in portraits and other art of the day. The fabled Dans Macabre is just one example. At the time, the science of medicine was in its infancy. With hardly any contrast at all, the prognosis for such a massive and virulent outbreak of some new or resilient disease today is not much better.

A week or so ago I watched an interesting doccy about the Black Death. It was pretty relevant, considering that if anything similar were to happen today, the global medical capacity to handle such a crisis would be nil anyway. Hospitals would be swamped. Handling capacity would be overwhelmed. In recent weeks, medical testing to confirm such cases as "swine flu" or H1M1 blah, blah, blah take anything up to a week - and some cases were even misdiagnosed completely. The death toll today even in so-called advanced countries stands at a total in excess of 1000. Oddly enough, the spread of this disease seems to have affected modern countries more - where transportation is far more effective than in rural non-urbanized places.

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